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Bako’s Guy Lafitte Finds Solace in the Classics

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Welcome to another edition of The TasteMakers, where we search the city to highlight Seattle’s innovative bakers, bartenders, and cooks. Behind the bar today, we’ve got Las Vegas transplant Guy Lafitte, who’s now settled at Capitol Hill’s newish Cantonese restaurant Bako, on the topic of—what else—food and drink.

[F. Kim]

Most overrated/underrated drink?
Up here in Seattle, I guess that’s a Cosmo. And anything with Jägermeister. That’s one thing you’re not going to see here at Bako. As far as underrated, I like a lot of the classically crafted cocktails. A lot of people try to improve on them without realizing they’re classics for a reason. I try to stick as close as possible to the classical recipes. No frills.

Do you judge people based on their drinks?
No. Not unless they order a Long Island Iced Tea or a Cosmopolitan. Or anything with Jäger in it. We take our time to talk to people. What do you like? What do you want? If I judge people as a bartender, then I’m not taking the time to find out what they want or where they’re coming from. I know I was a little flippant with the Cosmo/ Jäger line, but I want to find out what people like.

Favorite Seattle watering holes?
Top on my list is Liberty. I know the owner—Andrew [Friedman]—and he puts together a good drink. It’s a nice quiet place. After that, I like Knee High Stocking Co.

How about to eat?
I’ve explored some of the restaurants in Seattle, not as many as I like. But, you know, when you get off work, you’ve got a limited amount of restaurants that are open. Before work, I’ve got to say, the most consistent place I’ve gone to is Japonessa.

When you go to a bar, what do you like to order?
With everything, my baseline is a Manhattan. I like to see how they make it. There are certain things I notice things that turn me on or off, which determines if I’ll be back. If I see them put a Manhattan in a shaker and start shaking it, that’s it. I’m gone. That’s my litmus test for everywhere I go.

Rudest diner you’ve had?
When someone throws up on you, is that rude or just dumb drunk?

Have you noticed any differences between Vegas and Seattle customers?
They’re more sober up here. The other difference is that I haven’t made one frozen drink since I’ve been here. Vegas has gotten to the point of where you’re making a lot of frozen drinks in yards [those obnoxiously large, plastic cups shaped in guitars, vuvuzelas, etc.]. So no more big, plastic containers full of frozen stuff.

Because of what Vegas is, there’s not so much of a discriminating palate. Here you’re able to make—more often than not—quality cocktails. Cocktails people will actually sit and enjoy as opposed to “let me see how many drinks I can have before I fall down”.

How do you spend your time outside of the restaurant?

Interview by Florence Kim, Eater Contributor

· All Bako Coverage on Eater Seattle [-ESEA-]
· All Tastemaker Coverage on Eater Seattle [-ESEA-]