Murray Stenson, a revered figure in the world of cocktails who recently passed away, is being mourned by the entire Seattle, Washington community. While his impact on the industry is unquestionable, Murray has left a profound legacy encompassing mentorship, friendship, and a significant influence on the cocktail renaissance. While his creation of the renowned Last Word cocktail solidified his place in history, Murray’s influence transcended mixology, leaving an enduring impression on numerous bartenders and enthusiasts.
The news of Murray’s passing prompted an outpouring of heartfelt condolences from the cocktail world, with prominent figures such as CocktailWonk and The Admiralty Lounge expressing their gratitude. These touching messages not only recognize his pivotal role in the cocktail renaissance but also underline the lasting impact he had on those fortunate enough to cross paths with him.
CocktailWonk, a respected voice in mixology, fondly remembered Murray Stenson. They reminisced about the pleasure of sitting across the bar from him at some of Seattle’s most prestigious craft cocktail establishments, notably Zig Zag. Zig Zag, where Murray honed his craft for many years, served as a sanctuary where both enthusiasts and novices could appreciate his expertise.
Despite the demands of his bustling bartending career, Murray always found moments to share his wisdom with eager learners. He was ever-willing to engage in discussions about the nuances of vermouths, amaros, and other exotic ingredients, generously imparting his knowledge.
A pivotal moment in the world of rum enthusiasts occurred in 2011 during Murray’s tenure at Canon. A young CocktailWonk approached him seeking a rum-based, bitter, stirred cocktail. Murray introduced him to Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva rum, offering a tiny sample that ignited a passionate interest with a single sip.
Murray’s introduction to Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva became the catalyst for CocktailWonk’s deep dive into the world of rum, eventually establishing him as a respected authority. This simple act of introducing a new spirit exemplified Murray’s capacity to motivate and inspire those he encountered. It was one of many turning points in CocktailWonk’s life, leading to a passion that would define his career.
Murray Stenson’s mentorship and influence extended well beyond CocktailWonk. The Admiralty Lounge, reflecting on his profound impact, emphasized his role as a mentor, friend, and role model for an entire generation of bartenders. His contributions to the cocktail revival in the United States, especially in the Pacific Northwest, are immeasurable.
Many bartenders who trained under Murray went on to open their own establishments, further perpetuating his legacy. The Admiralty Lounge, one of those inspired by Murray, acknowledged their privilege in being counted among his mentees while recognizing that the debt they owed him could never be fully repaid but could only be passed forward.
The Admiralty Lounge encouraged everyone who savored a well-crafted cocktail to raise a glass in memory of Murray Stenson, expressing appreciation for all he achieved. His passing marks the end of an era, but his impact on the industry will resonate for years to come.
For those who knew Murray Stenson and countless others who tasted his delightful concoctions, a special place in their hearts is reserved for his most famous creation, The Last Word cocktail. Raising a Last Word in honor of Murray is a fitting tribute to the man who introduced this classic drink to the world, as noted by CocktailWonk.
Murray’s journey through the cocktail world was characterized by resilience, creativity, and an unwavering dedication to his craft. He navigated the highs and lows of the industry, always striving to create memorable experiences for his patrons. His bartending skills were matched only by his ability to connect with people, making everyone who sat before him feel welcomed and valued.
Murray Stenson’s legacy transcends the drinks he crafted; it encompasses the lives he touched and the inspiration he provided. His shift may have come to an end, but the impact he had on the world of bartending will continue to shape the industry for years to come. As The Admiralty Lounge so eloquently put it, one can imagine that if Murray were to meet St. Peter in the afterlife, they’d share a drink and swap stories about the legendary Seattle bartender who forever transformed the world of cocktails.
In Seattle and beyond, Murray Stenson will be remembered not only for his contributions to mixology but also for the unwavering spirit that endeared him to all who had the privilege of knowing him. As we raise our glasses in his memory, we celebrate the man, the mentor, and the legend who left an indelible mark on the world of cocktails and the lives he touched along the way. Murray Stenson’s legacy lives on in every well-crafted drink and in every bartender inspired by his passion and expertise.