From Tan Vinh, The Seattle Times
: Murray Stenson of Zig Zag Café in Seattle was named "Best Bartender
in America" by his peers Saturday night at the Tales of the Cocktail
festival, one of the highest honors in the industry.
Tales is arguably the world's largest festival focusing on spirits
and the history and craft of cocktails. The event in New Orleans drew
many of the top mixologists and drink historians from around the world.
While cocktails have seen a resurgence in recent years, Stenson has crafted sophisticated and classic cocktails for decades.
Stenson has been credited with inspiring hundreds of bartenders over
the years. Some have come from as far as San Francisco and New York City
to Zig Zag to sit at the bar and watch Stenson work.
Stenson, who was not at the festival, said of the honor, "too many
more deserving bartenders out there. Better palates, more efficient,
more likable personalities and easier to work with. I'd like to think it
was a vote for just showing up to work day in, day out for weeks, years
and decades. Or maybe the whole thing is a beauty contest?"
"To see his talents get recognized in this way is just further proof
of his unique skill and personality," said Robert Hess, of Lake Forest
Park, a cocktail historian and a judge for the contest. "Seattle is
lucky to have such a treasure behind the bar. ... Not only is he the
embodiment of true hospitality and service, but he dazzles us all with
great drinks as well."
Another of the judges, David Wondrich, a leading cocktail historian
and drink writer for Esquire magazine, said Stenson is mostly
responsible for the emerging Northwest craft cocktail.
"It's long overdue," Wondrich said. "He should be knighted, but this will have to do."