Sexy Food: Artusi Bar’s Superhero Drinkslingers

Veronika Groth and Adam Fortuna join forces to bring you libations like none other.

Artusi Bar, Jason Stratton’s second successful venture on Capitol Hill, is home to a dream team so epic you’ll drop your panties just walking in the door.  Surely they’re fashioning a troupe of ‘tenders the likes of whom the world hasn’t seen since the X-Men because they’re plotting world domination one Cocchi Americano at a time?

No matter the reason, here’s the scoop: Veronika Groth, of Poppy fame and most recently of Chino, is joining veteran Artusians Adam Fortuna and Jonathan Hudak behind the subway-tiled bar. I caught up with Veronika and Adam this week to get their autographs learn the inside scoop:

Sexy Food: What’s your brief history of bartending?

Veronika: I have worked in bars off and on for 15+ years, though my real focus came by way of Oliver’s Twist. The chef/owner there encouraged me to use culinary ingredients in cocktails. Later, Poppy’s kitchen and garden really helped me take off with my own style. To have Jerry Traunfeld’s palate testing your creations and then getting the okay from him is amazing! I wanted to gain a better understanding of management so I left to open Chino’s. After establishing their bar program I decided to focus more on bartending NOT managing. I am excited to have the creative energy  of Artusi around me again and to be working with some fabulous bartenders.

Adam: I’ve lived in Seattle for a little over two years now, and Artusi is my second gig in the city.  I started at Sazerac, downtown, and worked there for about 15 months.  It taught me a lot about volume and efficiency, but I am more suited to a craft-cocktail environment.  Throughout college, I served and bartended at a chef-owned bistro in Michigan. They had a small, but nice liquor selection, including Amari, which is rare in Michigan.

Sexy Food: Tell me about your signature drink.

Veronika: One my many signature drinks from Poppy is the Artifizz. Regulars who have followed me have asked for it at Chino’s and even now during my first week at Artusi! It contains Cynar, an Italian artichoke-based liqueur. Trust me, it’s good. I’ve converted many a non bitter drinker with this one.

Adam:  The Dead Glamour is a creation of mine that’s on the current Artusi menu.  It comes from my love of Campari, particularly, Negroni.  I’m surprised how many people are embracing this cocktail wholeheartedly, as it’s a pretty in-your-face drink.

Sexy Food: How do changing seasons affect cocktails?

Veronika: Seasons create distinctive moods, and I love bringing that through in cocktails! I have always wanted to use fresh rhubarb in a drink, and this is the time to start developing that one. I have been toying with hydrosols at home and hope to perfect them to begin using in cocktails at the bar. A hydrosol is basically ‘flower water’, though i want to use herbs, not just flowers. They lend scent to cocktails more than flavor.

Adam: Right now, we’re using a pickled sunchoke brine with blanco tequila and dry vermouth as a play on a dirty martini– I’m loving that.

I tend to focus on more spirit-foward drinks– simplicity is always best.  Seasonal ingredients are wonderful, but are not as important to me.  I think a bartender’s technique and use of quality product is equally as important as using trend-driven produce.  Drinking vinegars and sherry cocktails are going to be big this year.

Sexy Food: What are you looking forward to most about Artusi?

Veronika: Artusi has such an amazing team, it really is about everyone who works there. I’m also eager to work with the various Amari as they add such complexity, depth and unexpected reactions. As I am the ‘newbie’, i’ll have to wait my turn until Chef Stratton okays my cocktails and puts them on the next round of menu’s, but you can ask me and I’ll make you something I’m working on!

Sexy Food: What do you love about Artusi?

Adam: I’ve never been happier in 15 years in the industry; literally every single person I work with is a gem. The opportunity to work with, and befriend, Jason Stratton has been wonderful.  I also enjoy working alongside fellow barman Jonathan Hudak–who might be the most underrated bartender in town. Oh, and I can’t forget the music.

You heard it here first, kids. Now get thee to Artusi so you can drink bitter libations with the cool kids LIKE A BOSS.