Murray Stenson, a true cocktail icon who recently passed away, is mourned throughout Seattle, Washington. Beyond his contributions to the industry, Murray has left behind a lasting legacy that includes mentorship, friendship, and a significant impact on the cocktail revolution. While the rebirth of the Last Word cocktail, his most well-known invention, cemented his position in history, Murray’s influence on the industry extended beyond mixology and impacted the lives of numerous bartenders and enthusiasts.
The cocktail world responded to the news of Murray’s demise with poignant condolences, including thank-you messages from well-known names like CocktailWonk and The Admiralty Lounge. These heartfelt messages not only acknowledge his pivotal role in the cocktail revival but also highlight the indelible mark he left on those fortunate enough to have known him.
CocktailWonk, a respected voice in the world of mixology, remembered Murray Stenson with deep admiration. They recalled the pleasure of sitting across the bar from him at some of Seattle’s finest craft cocktail establishments, particularly Zig Zag. Zig Zag, where Murray plied his trade for many years, was a place where enthusiasts and novices alike could appreciate his expertise.
In the midst of his bustling bartending career, Murray found moments to share his wisdom with those eager to learn. He was always willing to engage in conversations about the intricacies of vermouths, amaros, and other exotic ingredients, generously imparting his knowledge.
A turning point in the history of rum enthusiasts occurred in 2011 while Murray was employed by Canon. A young CocktailWonk came up to him asking for a rum-based, bitter, stirred cocktail. CocktailWonk had never heard of Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva rum before Murray grabbed for a bottle of it. He offered a tiny sample, and with only one mouthful, a flame of passion was kindled.
Murray’s introduction to Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva served as the impetus for CocktailWonk’s exploration of the world of rum, leading to his eventual status as a prominent authority. The straightforward act of imparting a fresh spirit typified Murray’s capacity to motivate and influence those with whom he came into contact. It was one of several inflection points in CocktailWonk’s life, leading to a passion that would become a defining aspect of his career.
The impact of Murray Stenson’s mentorship and influence extended far beyond CocktailWonk. The Admiralty Lounge, reflecting on his profound influence, emphasized his role as a mentor, friend, and example to an entire generation of bartenders. His contributions to the revitalization of cocktails in the United States, particularly in the Pacific Northwest, are immeasurable.
Many of the bartenders who trained under Murray went on to open their own bars, further perpetuating his legacy. The Admiralty Lounge, among those inspired by Murray, expressed their privilege in being counted among his mentees while recognizing the debt they could never fully repay but could only pass forward.
The Admiralty Lounge requested that everyone who enjoyed a good cocktail raise a glass in Murray Stenson’s memory and in appreciation for all that he had accomplished. His demise signals the end of an era, and his influence on the industry will be felt for many years to come.
Those who knew Murray Stenson and the countless others who have experienced its lovely mix of flavours have a particular place in their hearts for his most well-known creation, The Last Word cocktail. Raising a Last Word in Murray’s honour is an appropriate tribute to the man who helped promote this traditional drink to the world, as CocktailWonk noted.
Murray’s journey through the world of cocktails was marked by resilience, creativity, and an unwavering commitment to his craft. He weathered the ups and downs of the industry, always striving to create memorable experiences for his patrons. His skill at the bar was matched by his ability to connect with people, making everyone who sat before him feel welcomed and valued.
Murray Stenson’s legacy goes beyond the drinks he mixed; it encompasses the lives he touched and the inspiration he provided. His shift may be over, 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, if Murray were to encounter St. Peter in the afterlife, one can imagine they’d share a drink and swap stories about the legendary bartender from Seattle who forever changed the world of cocktails.
In Seattle and beyond, Murray Stenson will be remembered not only for his contributions to mixology but also for the indomitable spirit that endeared him to all who had the privilege of knowing him. As we raise our glasses to 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 every bartender inspired by his passion and expertise.