Niles Peacock’s introduction to bartending was unusual, to say the least. On his first night at a New York City bar, a gunfight broke out. Since then, the 48-year-old Seattle native lived in a number of cities before returning to the Northwest in 2009. He has worked at 190 Sunset in Edmonds since its opening three years ago. He now is preparing to open his own bar and restaurant in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood.
How did you become a bartender?
I was a nightclub promoter in New York City while studying fashion design at Parsons School of Design. Someone I knew owned a bar called Lead Bar… I lied, I said I could bartend. The first shift, there was a gunfight and bullets flying. Nobody got hurt. That was my intro to bartending.
So how did you learn to bartend?
I learned through training with chefs. I bartended in New York City, Miami Beach and Aspen, and I hadn’t had any real training yet. I was entering my first cocktails competition. I started spending time in the kitchen asking questions. By 2003, I didn’t know this whole craft cocktail thing was happening. So I started developing this skill set to make craft cocktails before this trend started happening.
What happened next?
I was recruited by Charlie Trotter’s in Las Vegas. That was just incredible. I never thought I’d have an opportunity like that. Shortly after moving back to Seattle in 2009, I was voted Best Bartender in Western Washington on KING 5.
What drew you to 190 Sunset?
I was looking for a place I thought would be a fit for me creatively. If I don’t have enough creative license, then I won’t enjoy it for a long-term position. I’ve been bartending since we opened on Sept. 8, 2016. I’m the director of operations of 190 Sunset. And I’m opening my own bar and restaurant in Seattle.
So when your bar opens, you’ll leave 190 Sunset?
I will. One thing that caused me a lot of anxiety is who do I find to replace me, to care for the people that you’ve spent time cultivating relationships with over the last three years.
Who will replace you?
Gabe Koller. I’ve known Gabe Koller and trust him and he’s also a local guy. He knows and has relationships with most of the guests who come to the restaurant. That bond of trust is already there. That’s a big deal.
When do you expect to leave 190 Sunset?
I’m looking at mid-November right now. My bar, Niles Peacock Kitchen and Bar, is brand-new construction at street level with 59 residences above it at 4025 Stone Way N. I grew up in Wallingford. It’s kind of like going home.
How long did you consider opening your own restaurant and bar?
For years. This is the third property I’ve been offered. The developers have been courting me. The third place was perfect. We hope to open by Thanksgiving.
Could you describe the place?
A cocktail-centric restaurant with oysters, salads, smoked trout dip, bone marrow with crostini and a number of cheese boards. And I love flatbread pizza. A four-deck pizza oven is there also.
Where do you live now?
I currently live in Edmonds, and will remain in Edmonds for some commitments I have. I’ve (volunteered) at Edmonds’ food bank for over two years. A Tuesday commitment. And I joined the board of the Edmonds Center for the Arts.
Did you have reservations about starting your own business?
Not at all. I’d say the only reservation I had was what to call it. I didn’t want to call it Niles Peacock.
What changed your mind?
After six months of making suggestions on what to call it, it was my staff. They kept saying you need to call it Niles Peacock. If you use your name, you’ll start with something that’s familiar to people.
If you could serve a famous person living or dead, who would it be and what would you serve them?
Abraham Lincoln because he’s the only U.S. president who held a bartending position. He was a former barman before he became president. The drink I would serve is called Old Hickory, named after Andrew Jackson. It’s made with 1½ ounces Carpano Antica formula sweet vermouth, 1½ ounces Carpano dry vermouth, 3 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters, 3 dashes Angostura orange bitters, and a swath of yellow citrus served on one large ice cube.
Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or email@example.com.