Matt Seiter Lets It All Hang Out, At Sanctuaria and in His New Book, “The Dive Bar of Cocktail Bars”
BY JENNY AGNEW (ON TWITTER: @JENNY_AGNEW)
An otherwise “A” student, Matt Seiter earned in “F” in an Eighth Grade Religion class for writing that he’d like to serve Kool-Aid to thirsty African children after being prompted to reflect on a charitable act. While Seiter concocts drinks much stronger than Kool-Aid at Sanctuaria, where he’s the Bar Manager and creator of its Cocktail Club—the inspiration for the recently released book, The Dive Bar of Cocktail Bars—his propensity for quenching others’ thirsts apparently began early.
Before the Cocktail Club’s introduction, Seiter was already thinking about writing a book based on its 150 drinks. Between March and September of 2011, Seiter drafted The Dive Bar, leaving plenty of time for edits before turning it over to the publisher. Everyone involved with the book is local—something that Seiter is the “most proud” of. Anne Milford, AKA “The Book Nurse,” for example, edited the book, and Jacqui Krawczyk Segura, a club member, took most of the drinks’ pictures.
Also included in the tome are a history of the club, tips on making juices, liqueurs, syrups, and tinctures at home, and a glossary of spirits offered at the bar, none of which are mass-marketed brands, and a cross-listing of drinks using them. Throughout the introductory material and in the individual drink recipes, Seiter infuses the text with asides, questions, quotes, and tricks.
If you’ve spent any time at Sanctuaria’s bar, you probably know Seiter (right) for his signature mohawk, but you’ll remember him for his ability to make anyone feel comfortable . . . even as he’s disagreeing with you. “I’m not known for holding shit back,” Seiter admitted, noting that others are more receptive to those, like himself, who are honest.
That honest voice comes out strong and clear in The Dive Bar. Milford initially attempted to “clean up” Seiter’s writing, but the result “sounded like a professor in front of a classroom,” according to the author. When you read the book, it’s obvious that Seiter won that “creative difference,” as the voice is all his: conversational, accessible, irreverent, and informative—what you get when you’re parked in front of him at the bar.
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