A.J. Rathbun, Amazon.com's resident Kitchen Store editor, is also quite the cocktail expert and author, and a party animal of the first order.
A.J. Rathbun sits across from me at TASTE Restaurant sipping a Neo Cubist cocktail and delving into a cheese plate while I try to decipher the dark-eyed, fast-talking, slightly rakish 39-year-old whose skull-and-crossbones bracelet, he says, glows in the dark and was a gift from his dog, Sookie.
By day, Arthur John Rathbun III (“A.J.” since birth) works in the high-pressure, high-tech world of Amazon.com as senior editor in the Kitchen Store.
But by night, the Ballard resident researches and writes cocktail books with witty titles such as “Luscious Liqueurs,” “Party Snacks!,” “Wine Cocktails” and “Dark Spirits,” all recently published or soon-to-be-released by The Harvard Common Press.
Rathbun’s award-winning “Good Spirits: Recipes, Revelations, Refreshments, and Romance, Shaken and Served with a Twist” is an engaging collection of 450 classic and contemporary cocktail recipes with quirky names (Headshrinker, Flaming Dr. Pepper, Obituary Cocktail) and gorgeous photos by the aptly named Melissa Punch.
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Q: What is your favorite cocktail and why?
A: I really have no favorite because I’m always testing new cocktails, and I never want the one I’m testing to get jealous. I can tell you what I had to drink last night . . . my standby drink — the Wonder Woman of drinks — the Negroni. It’s equal parts gin, campari and sweet vermouth and is perfectly balanced.
Q: What are a couple of your favorite bars in Seattle?
A: Seattle is lucky right now because there are so many good new bars, it’s hard to keep up! But I like Vessel and Oliver’s, for a nice balance of new and old.
Q: Do you have a favorite hangover cure?
A: I hate to say it, but I almost never get hangovers. I always drink lots of water — one glass of water to each drink — and if I really feel draggy the next morning, my wife, Natalie, and I take Sookie for a l-o-o-ng walk. If friends are really dragging, I suggest a packet of Emer-Gen-C or a Stomach Reviver cocktail.
Q: You hold an MFA in creative writing and your collection of poetry, “Want,” has been characterized as “playful, witty and subversively literary.” Do you view yourself the same way?
A: Yes, if by “subversively literary” you mean that I subtly influence people to love better drinks.