Jason Castro is a history nut — for booze, that is.
The 28-year-old bartender has worked at Fred’s Rivertown Alehouse in Snohomish since 2016. Before that, he worked in fine-dining restaurants and cocktail lounges in Florida.
Here, Castro shares his knowledge of cocktails, why he doesn’t do bar tricks anymore, and which celebrity he’d like to serve.
What drew you to bartending?
I’ve worked in restaurants ever since I was 15. Bartending has always been the most glamorized role in the business, so, once I had the right people training me, I knew it’s what I wanted to do.
What brought you to Fred’s?
I moved to Washington for a gal, but that didn’t work out. I started working at Fred’s almost immediately after moving here. I stopped in for a bite and a drink while job hunting and liked the feel of the restaurant, and the town especially, so I decided to drop off a resume. Either they liked my personality or my experience. More likely my experience.
What kind of bartender are you?
I would probably describe myself as more of a craft cocktail expert than a bartender. I love to describe a cocktail to patrons as I’m making it. Making conversation is definitely one of my strong suits — especially when I’m explaining the origins and history of certain spirits or drinks.
Do you have any bar tricks up your sleeve, like blowing fire?
I used to light an ice cube on fire to present my Liquid Cocaine shots, but after another bartender had a mishap, I haven’t done it since. I do my best to stay away from the fancy fare and just focus on the cocktail crafting now.
Tap or bottle beer?
Tap by a long shot — and we have 34 of them. Something about taking that first big sip from the edge of a cold glass makes a beer ever so tasteful.
Which spirit is the biggest hidden gem at Fred’s?
We have a bottle of Avion 44 hidden away that is absolutely to die for. I’m not a tequila guy by any means, but this tequila tastes like a smooth, malty, sweet bourbon that just happened to be barreled with mezcal chips. Worth every single penny. But for all those whisky/scotch folks, there’s about 200 different bottles for every palate and price.
Tell me about your favorite cocktail.
Brooklyn Sours are my absolute favorite cocktail to make and drink. People are always in awe when you throw egg whites into a cocktail and even more so when you have a layered beverage. Layering it correctly and getting just the right amount of froth on top is what really sets apart and defines a craft cocktail.
How do you go about recommending a drink?
That’s actually fairly complicated. Reading someone’s personality, demeanor and mannerisms, all contribute in how a skilled bartender approaches a guest. Strong personality types and light ones all kind of vary on their drink of choice, but more typically, an individual’s personality reflects their preferred beverage.
If you could have only one drink for the rest of your life, what it would be?
A proper whiskey sour will set me straight always. Maybe a little boozier than typical.
If you could serve a celebrity, who would it be and what would you make them?
I would make Dave Chappelle a Long Island iced tea. I met him once in Florida. He seemed so existential in his casual conversations, as well as just being a funny guy.
If you could choose a theme song for your shift, what would it be?
Oh, jeez, that’s the hardest question so far. “Neon Moon” by Brooks and Dunn. I could sing that song in a good or bad mood and it just gets me going. We’ve all been an emotional drunk alone at a bar reciting that song, am I right? Right?
What’s one thing you tell others about bartending?
Do it for a good time, not a long time. There’s nothing wrong with being a career bartender, but, boy, does it take a toll on you mentally after a while. And — for those non-industry folks — be nice.
What’s the bar culture like on First Street?
There’s something for just about everyone here: dancing, live music, young and old crowds, places for regulars and places for visitors. We’ve got what you need.
How does Fred’s standout?
Definitely in the diversity of beverages we serve: craft cocktails, craft beers, local spirits, small batch and the largest single-malt scotch selection in Washington. There’s just so much, which is partially why I love working here.
Evan Thompson: 425-339-3427, firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @ByEvanThompson.
If you go
Fred’s Rivertown Alehouse, 1114 First St., Snohomish, is open from 11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
Call 360-568-5820 or go to www.fredsrivertownalehouse.com for more information.