This college district bar where good vibes meet better views shakes things up


Mountaineering club, a bar where good vibes meet even better views above the Seattle Grad Hotel, recently welcomed new bar manager Ricky Agustin. The Kent native has just returned to PNW after a seven-year stay in New York City, and can’t wait to share his Filipino talents and culture with lucky guests at this oasis in the University District.

When he does the math, Agustin thinks he’s been a bartender for just over 29,000 hours. That’s 50 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, for 11 years.

“Learning a little more every day is my favorite part of the job,” he said.

He started the business while completing his undergraduate studies at UW, when he landed a position as a “gentle” dish washer at Jamie Boudreau. Cannon on 12th Avenue.

“Shortly after, a bartender position opened at Eric Banh’s. Ba bar; I mentioned that I was working down the street at Canon, and before I could tell him I was scraping plates and cleaning the toilets, he hired me to run a bar at the noodle shop a few days by. week. I can’t teach hustle and bustle, but work with Eric for a year, and you can work damn anywhere. “

In May 2013, he was recruited by Audrey Saunders to work at the Pegu Club of New York, where he spent seven years under the mentorship of “some of the best artistic, technical and operational minds in the world,” Augustin said. “It was truly a global hub for bartenders. I met some of my best friends there and extended the evenings until dawn with some of the best humans I’ve ever met.”

The arrival of COVID-19 has changed everything.

“It fell apart for a ton of people,” he said, “the world turned upside down. I had found the end of a marriage, our livelihoods were hanging on indefinitely and my father needed help. “helping to manage the symptoms of early onset Alzheimer’s. The pandemic really distilled what I needed to do and where my attention was really needed. I came home.

The benefits of being here are vast.

“Do you know how nice it is to see beyond the next block?” I work next to a body of water which is also an airport, and on a clear day I can see all the way from the Cascade mountain range to the Olympics. It’s great for social distancing. “

He adds that a change of scenery was so necessary for his own sanity.

“It was an option that a lot of people just didn’t have,” he said. “I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to come home during a global pandemic and take care of my loved ones in any way I can.”

When it comes to Agustin’s connection to his Filipino heritage, that’s constantly evolving.

“I am what a lot of Filipinos call ‘Bad Filipinos’,” he said. “I don’t speak Ilocano (my mother is from Santa Maria, Ilocos Sur), I don’t speak Tagalog (my grandmother is from Manila), and I grew up in a white suburb. Filipino and I will probably never stop. In my case, I learned typical Filipino values ​​and identity from my parents and grandparents. “

He says it’s all too easy to summarize the culture by saying that Filipinos have large families, that they value food, and that everyone is your “aunt” or “uncle.”

“Being raised here, I was taught that surviving meant assimilating and focusing on individualistic traits, like going it alone, self-determination, that sort of thing,” he said. “But as I get older and the world changes, I find myself relying on the most Filipino collectivist values ​​I was raised in, but learned to avoid, such as working together to support the family. enlarged, to go to great lengths to bring comfort to our elderly and to find joy in the face of uncertainty. “

The favorite parts of Agustin in his culture? “Just after ‘Take off your shoes’, Filipino hospitality is defined in four words:’ Have you ever eaten? “”

The ways in which he honors his education in cocktail creations are “rather devious”. It sneaked into the galangal – a tangy, spicier cousin of ginger – in the Evergreen Buck. The Meany Ski Hut is a version of Phil’s (Ward, Death & Co) Cooper Union, using American malt whiskey and Coconut Water-Rock Sugar syrup. There is a single drop of jasmine essence that scents the wildflowers plucked atop Washington’s Palm Springs.

“The ingredients on this menu that mean something to me are integrated into the modern classic structure in a way that is, in any case, bittersweet,” he said.

“Did you know that some of the best bartenders in the world are Filipinos? Said Augustine. “You would never know, as very few records were kept of the mostly Filipino bar teams on which famous tiki bars like Trader Vic’s were built. The proprietary blends, infusions, execution were all done by groups of Filipinos who were viewed as migrant workers.

He says if you take a close look at almost any Filipino dish, it’s made up of items with so many different preparations that you would easily use any pots and pans in your home.

“You have to use a million different techniques to achieve the variety of flavors and textures that characterizes Filipino cuisine,” he said. “So we don’t hesitate to do a two-week maceration for a scented laurel tincture, because we are patient. the dense and tangy syrup makes people. It’s just a normal Tuesday. “

For the cocktail creations, for which they more than doubled the size of the menu, Agustin admits to being “a sucker for the Show with a capital” S. “I have so much fun at the Cherry Bomb [a smokeless sparkler-adorned gem], and watching people’s faces light up, ”he said.“ It’s stupid fun. I can’t get enough of it. “

Another popular order is Whidbey Island iced tea.

“We make a giant Long Island iced tea, put all the alcohol in a keg, carbonate it and serve it on draft. “I don’t know why more people don’t know this, but it’s the highest rated spirit ever produced in North America. And no one is talking about it! It’s made in our backyard! So since we We’re at the end of the Little Pacific Blackberry Season, our forager Matt Nevitt [yes we have a forager] literally go to the mountains and bring back some wild berries from Salal to garnish Whidbey Island. He also picks wild flowers for us. “

A section of the menu called “Avalanches” features drizzled frozen mojitos and fruity frozen brambles served on the rooftop all night. Luckily, Jenna Rosenbloom, who just moved from New Orleans, just happens to be an expert on slush machines.

The favorite part of Agustin about this workplace? “Well the view from the office doesn’t get old,” he said. “But for me, it’s the amount of support devoted to the creative and performative artists on my team. If you really believe in a concept and we believe it is physically possible on a large scale, the skills and experience of everyone is put to use. Everyone on my team is an expert on something. “

“I guess my favorite part of it all is that in many cases there have been times in the past where I could have said to my team, ‘I think this recipe is fire, but we can’t. not put this drink on the menu because the production process takes too long ”, or“ I am in love with this cocktail, but we cannot serve this drink because the preparation is too complicated ”- and that every time step, they found ways to prove me wrong. “

Mountaineering Club recently launched its brunch menu inspired by the campsite, served every Sunday. Don’t forget to bring your sunscreen and your camera; you’ll want to capture these incomparable views!

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