EVERETT — There’s nothing Nigel Lindsey hates more than attending a great concert with crappy drinks.
Lindsey sees himself as an artist with cocktails as his canvas. So it bothers him whenever event organizers cut corners with their mixed drinks.
“We work so hard for everything else,” Lindsey said. “Why the heck would you just serve a rum and coke? That’s not fair.”
Quality drinks at an affordable price is the guiding principle at Revolution by the Barrel, a bar catering service Lindsey, 30, of Everett, launched in 2016. Lindsey and eight other contract bartenders cater for weddings, private parties and corporate events hosted by clients such as Amazon, Meta, Microsoft, Funko and more.
With his drinks, Lindsey tries to use fresh fruit and herbs while limiting high-fructose corn syrup. Cocktails have “unlimited potential,” he said, as they leave a lot of room for experimentation and allow people to “be as creative as you want.”
A decade ago, the only drinks Lindsey mixed were at frat parties. Now he’s leading workshops, consulting on restaurant menus and selling cocktail to-go kits online so people can make his drinks from home. For his efforts, Live in Everett called Lindsey a “wunderkind mixologist” and Seattle NorthCountry described him as a “mixologist extraordinaire.”
As a kid, Lindsey imagined running his own business, although he never envisioned exactly what kind. That dream had to wait as he received scholarship to run for Everett Community College in 2012.
Back then Lindsey pictured himself as the guy running in the Nike commercials. Life had other plans. He pulled a hamstring during a track meet and never returned to peak performance. He left the sport soon after.
“I was ultimately just disappointed because when you have this dream and that just goes away, you feel lost for a moment,” Lindsey said. But he soon stumbled upon a new career path.
A few days after turning 21, Lindsey was hired as a bartender at a wedding venue in Everett. At the time it was just a gig to pay the bills, but it turned out to be the first step in Lindsey’s mixology journey.
Lindsey moved on to other bartending jobs, but the craft didn’t come naturally to him. Starting out, Lindsey said he “was horribly bad, and didn’t understand good cocktails from anything.” That started to change after a chance encounter.
In 2013, Lindsey was bartending at Craving Cajun Grill in Everett when John Lundin, the owner of Everett’s Bluewater Organic Distilling, walked in. The two started talking.
Lundin told The Herald he doesn’t remember who initiated the conversation, but said he enjoys sharing what he knows about spirits with anyone willing to listen. He recalls watching Lindsey making “funny tropical drinks” and wanted to do his part in indoctrinating the young man in the art of craft bartending. Lindsey was receptive.
“He was getting going with bartending, and he was so curious and eager and interested,” Lundin said. After chatting, Lundin invited Lindsey to visit his distillery to sample spirits.
“I was a little skeptical,” Lindsey said, as he had never sipped gin straight before. But he accepted. What followed was an informal introductory course on drink making.
“We introduced him to spirits, and he was so wide eyed at that point, ready to learn, and very eager,” Lundin said. “It’s like big light bulbs went off for him in those early days.”
The encounter inspired Lindsey to explore cocktails
“He gave me the education portion of it, and from there, I took off running,” Lindsey said. He then sought out tutorials on YouTube and learned through trial and error.
Years later Lindsey decided to launch his bar catering service. He felt that he had the necessary skills to build a successful enterprise and wanted a more flexible schedule so he could be more involved in his first daughter’s upbringing.
Originally, Lindsey called the business Mobile Mixology, but said he changed it because “it wasn’t true to my character as far as being a creative.” The name Revolution by the Barrel is both a statement on the kind of impact Lindsey strives for and a nod to his family’s activism with the Seattle Chapter of the Black Panther Party.
Regardless of where life takes him, Lindsey doesn’t want to sit still. He’s on a mission to grow and evolve as a drink maker.
“I just don’t want to be beholden to just mobile bartending or just running a bar,” Lindsey said. “This company could be more than that.”
To that end, Lindsey is working toward opening a speakeasy in Everett. He envisions a fake storefront with a concealed door leading to a cocktail lounge. The venue would have menu items and decor changing monthly and would highlight the area’s creativity with local art and poetry nights. It’s the kind of place Lindsey said the area lacks.
“I know of a lot of new things that are coming to Everett, but a speakeasy isn’t one of them,” Lindsey said. “So I’ll have the first one out here, hopefully.”
For more info, visit revolutionbythebarrel.com.
Here’s a cocktail from mixologist Nigel Lindsey.
1½ ounces Mezcal
½ ounce Cynar
½ ounce Averna Amaro
¾ ounce lime juice
¾ ounce pineapple juice
¾ ounce agave syrup
Pour ingredients into shaker with ice. Shake for 15-20 seconds. Strain over ice into rocks glass. Garnish with rosemary sprig. Makes one drink.