Belle of the Bar
In terms of the Seattle bar scene, Anu Elford’s been around the block. A former bartender at such local hotspots as Vessel, BOKA, and Minnie’s, Elford now owns Rob Roy, a sexy Belltown cocktail lounge that serves as a perfect afterwork happy hour venue. With her husband Chris Elford, she recently also opened seafood / beer bar No Anchor and tiki bar Navy Strength in the same neighborhood. Elford discusses how she’s seen Belltown change and gives us some drink recommendations.
How have you seen the culinary scene change in Belltown since taking over Rob Roy in 2010?
The culinary scene is growing in Belltown. In 2009 when I bought Rob Roy it was largely a neighborhood to go clubbing although there were hidden gems like Lampreia. Places are starting to focus on food and beverage while also bringing great things to the night life scene.
You opened a new beer bar last fall. How did this experience differ from your work with Rob Roy?
Opening up No Anchor was a wonderful experience. I had the pleasure of working with Max Sayer, Chef Jeffrey Vance, and of course my husband, Chris Elford, to create something truly magical. While Chris and Max head the beverage program and FOH management my role has been largely behind the scenes working on financials, and procedures. Basically, after the design and build-out were complete the beer experts take the reigns completely. They’ve taken that place to great heights.
You previously worked behind bars yourself before taking the helm. What’s the most important thing you learned as a bartender?
Surprising to me this is a hard question! I’ve learned so much from how to move my entire body in different ways much like a choreographed dance to make drinks to how to deflect and resolve the conflict between staff and even guests.
What’s your best cocktail or beer (and why) for the following situations:
—an overly warm summer day happy hour
—a rainy evening
First date: Depends on the impression you want to make! I’d say a Martini but get it 50/50. Half gin, half vermouth—and only have one! If you are not a drinker have a low ABV cocktail like an Aperol Spritz.
Overly warm summer day happy hour: Is there such a thing as overly warm?! Margaritas!
A rainy evening: an Old-Fashioned for sure.