Traci McFarlane, owner of Bits in Mukilteo, not only mixes drinks but cooks all the dishes on the place’s small-plates menu. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Traci McFarlane, owner of Bits in Mukilteo, not only mixes drinks but cooks all the dishes on the place’s small-plates menu. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

This Mukilteo bartender practices the art of the cocktail

Traci McFarlane, owner of Bits, is passionate about mixing drinks the right way.

Traci McFarlane, owner of Bits in Mukilteo, calls herself a passionate bartender who considers a correctly made cocktail to be a work of art. She worked in restaurants and wineries before opening Bits, where she also does all the cooking.

When did Bits open and is this your first business?

In August and no, it’s not. I owned what is now called the Red Cork Bistro. I owned it as Piazza’s wine bar and bistro. I had it for almost 12 years. I left it and went into the wine business for eight years before opening Bits.

Where did the name come from?

Well, a couple of things. The most flavor is in the little crispy bits in the pan. The other thing is, everything here is a la carte. I wanted people to experience different foods. So it’s more small plates. We’re encouraging people to experiment with the food. Not big meals. Bits of this and bits of that.

What’s the menu style?

Different styles of cuisine. Everything is homemade. We do everything from scratch and I do all the cooking. I would say it’s more Mediterranean cuisine.

Did you start out your career in bartending?

I started out in cooking. I’ve done pretty much everything in the restaurant business. Now I’m a bartender and a cook.

What sort of training do you have?

I learned on the fly. I used to run a restaurant in Edmonds in the early ’90s, Cafe Pinceau (French for paintbrush) which was French creole food. That’s where I learned how to bartend.

How long have you been bartending?

Well, I was out of it for a while running wineries. But bartending since the late ’80s early ’90s.

What kind of bartender are you?

I would say I’m a passionate bartender. I say that because as much as I like cooking, I love the art of being able to mix things and make them very complex or very, very simple, but when done right it is an art. From shaken or stirred to the quality of your ingredients. Even our well liquor is very good, high-end liquor. Consistency is another huge thing. I’m detailed and passionate about it.

When did you become a bartender?

I started it after I had my second child, but I feel like it goes so far back. I loved to entertain at home. I was always reading about not just recipes but also entertaining at home. Once my kids were born, I went into it professionally.

What’s the craziest thing that’s happened while you were bartending?

You see a lot. One thing I can recall is back in the ’90s I had a gentleman come in when we opened at 11 a.m. and order a couple shots. We were getting ready for the opening of the restaurant and I came out and thought he had left. He hadn’t paid. I knew him. I walked around the restaurant and there he was, sound asleep underneath the bar.

Did you wake him up?

The owner woke him up. Someone from the restaurant drove him home and put him to bed.

What’s your favorite drink to mix?

I would say the paper plane, my favorite cocktail. I love to make it for a couple of reasons. It’s easy to remember. Equal parts of all ingredients. But even if you don’t like bourbon, I’ve never had someone not come back for more. It’s one of the cocktails everybody loves. The ingredients are bourbon, lemon juice, Amaro and Aperol (an aperitif)

What’s your drink of choice when you’re not working?

Just a classic gin martini, stirred, not shaken.

If you could serve a famous person living or dead, who would it be and what would you serve them?

It would be Prince. I would serve him my new cocktail we’re working on called Purple Rain. It is gin-based.

So why Prince?

I just admire his craft. If he came into my restaurant you would see why. I have a music theme. It’s a huge part of me and what I do. For anyone who has not been to Bits, the important thing I’m about is giving someone an experience — visually, the food, the craft cocktails, the thoughtful wine list and we have great music. Everyone wants my playlist. I spent so much time working on it. I want Bits to be the place where people feel good. It’s a compilation of all those things. Anything, whether food or cocktails, when you’re passionate, you do it well.

If you go

Bits, 11601 Harbour Pointe Blvd., Mukilteo, is open 3 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and 5 to 11 p.m. Friday. Call 425-595-6914 or go to facebook.com/craftcocktailsandeatery.

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