— Jenny Neill

House Cocktails: The Last Word

Wine was always my drink of choice until a few years ago. That’s when I started doing double duty as sommelier and service bartender at Ray’s Boathouse on slow nights. It’s also when I began to associate the onset of the rainy season with trying new (to me) cocktails. As I developed my palate for booze, I struggled with gin. The strong flavor that juniper imbues to this base alcohol was usually too much for me. That is, until I put myself in the hands of Murray Stenson.

Murray Stenson

Photo courtesy of Scott Heimendinger. All rights reserved.

This is a new blog feature for me. And this is an unusual post for it. More often than not, I’ll write about why I like a drink or tell you a bit about its history. Maybe I’ll focus on the history of one of the key ingredients. But this one? This one’s for Murray. Murray needs our help.

I don’t know Murray as well as many in the Seattle bar and restaurant scene do. In fact, I wouldn’t go so far as to claim more than a passing acquaintance with him. I do, however, count myself among the many who have been inspired by him. Murray is the bartender who introduced me to the first gin cocktail I actually liked, The Last Word. This prohibition-era libation was all but forgotten until he revived it at Zig Zag Café.

If you haven’t met Murray, take two minutes to watch this 2010 interview.

Video courtesy of Eric Jenson KOMO

This humble, consummate bartender has a serious heart issue and no health insurance. That he has dedicated his life to the art and craft of bartending, that he is so knowledgeable, and that he is always so affable is why efforts to come to his aid have gone viral on a global scale.

Batch 206 is hosting Blur Ball this Sunday to raise funds for Murray’s medical bills. Seattlites, tickets are still available and you can buy them online. For those of you not in Seattle, visit Murray Aid to learn about other ways you can donate or to find a fundraiser near you.

Wherever you are, try The Last Word and think of Murray.