Seattle’s Sexiest Bartender and UW Alumni Amber Davis prepares a drink at Finn MacCool’s. Davis has been working at the bar for five years and started during her fourth year in college.
Finn MacCool’s bartender Amber Davis entertains her patrons on a slow Sunday night. Davis was recently dubbed as the “Seattle’s Sexiest Bartender” by The Stranger.
Imagine it’s your 21st birthday. Per tradition, your friends take you out for a drink. The first stop is Finn MacCool’s on the Ave. The doorman checks your ID, and, for the first time in your life, you walk up to the counter and ask the bartender for a drink.
The female bartender stares at you, fluttering her long eyelashes. Long black hair cascades past her uncovered shoulders, while tan cheeks blushed with subtle dashes of makeup and lips lined with black lipstick form a smile. You hand her your driver’s license.
“Well, look at you, Sunshine,” she says. “Happy birthday.”
You blush. She tells you she’s going to make what she calls a “blowjob shot.” Now you’re really blushing. After pouring Kahlúa, Baileys Irish Cream and few drops of Bacardi 151 into your drink, she inserts a blue straw into the glass and covers the top of the drink with whipped cream. It is supposed to resemble male genitalia. She then leans over the bar toward you, her low-cut shirt nestling the base of the glass.
“I want you to suck the entire thing down,” she says, seductively. “I don’t want there to be a drop left. You have six seconds to swallow it all.”
This is the world of Finn MacCool’s manager Amber Davis, 25, named Seattle’s sexiest bartender by The Stranger in February. To the unsuspecting birthday victim or occasional bachelor-party groom, she might embody over-the-counter intercourse. But to Davis, it’s all part of the job.
“People come in here just to see what will come out of our mouths,” Davis said. “We’re all crude here. But that’s part of the fun. There’s a level of crassness and sexuality you have to show. I try to make everyone who shows up here have a good time.”
So how does a reporter interview Seattle’s sexiest bartender? Some safety hawks would suggest using protection — as in sobriety — to ward off the allure. Davis had already been made famous for being able to do her job successfully, so to do my job, I would have to make sure that the only penis-shaped shots I took would be directed into a urinal.
I hand her my driver’s license.
“Sweetie, what’s with the military haircut?” she asks, showing other bartenders the nearly expired ID.
I mumble something about being 16 and playing on the high school golf team when the photo was taken.
“Oh, cool, I was on cheer in high school,” she says, catching me off guard. “And I was a sorority girl at UW, a College Republican and on the crew team.”
It turns out Seattle’s sexiest bartender is as normal — notoriety not withstanding — as just about anyone. Davis grew up in Enumclaw, Wash., where she aspired to be a lawyer. But after graduating from the University of Washington with a degree in political science and a minor in business management, her goals changed.
“I started working at Finn’s when I was 21,” she said. “It’s my family now. And it’s easy when you’ve hired all your friends to work with you ...
“I get to throw my own party every night. I’m the momma bear or the boss lady, as they say, but we switch roles all the time. When you work with your friends, it doesn’t feel like work.”
Her “family members” at the bar include Maxine Winn, 25, a longtime friend whom Davis recently hired to be a bartender at Finn MacCool’s.
“If she wasn’t our friend, she wouldn’t be the good boss she is,” Winn said. “We were friends before I started working here, and nothing has really changed since. She’s still funny, still surly and still like, ‘Let’s go pick on somebody together.’
“Though, of course, it goes further than Finn’s. We go out and have fun on the nights we don’t work. It’s always a good girls’ night out. Then, at the end of the night, we’re sitting on [Davis’] couch at 4 a.m., drinking a bottle of wine and laughing. It’s totally a family.”
Other bartenders agree. Both Roni Campbell, 26, and Sarah Eberenz, 25, have worked with Davis for more than two years. They say that Davis is the main reason they work at Finn’s.
“It’s always fun,” Campbell said. “We whip each other’s butts with towels all the time. We put on a show, and I have the bruises to prove it. It sells drinks.”
Eberenz calls it a performance, and Davis, she said, is the best at that show.
It’s not hard to see why Davis’ friends submitted her photos to The Stranger’s contest. Davis flirts, smiles, and has star tattoos on her shoulders. To the mixed crowd that frequents Finn’s, she takes the “tender” out of bartender and replaces it with tough-skinned sexuality.
“You have to be a bit tougher working at a bar,” she said.
That didn’t stop her from being embarrassed when she got the call from The Stranger.
“When they called I was making meatballs,” she said. “I thought someone was messing with me. When they finally convinced me, I was like, ‘Can I wash the meat off my hands first?’ And then I’m blushing for the first time since I was five. I felt ridiculous.
“They told me to bring props and dress however I wanted for the photo shoot. So I brought a fifth of Jameson [whiskey] and we all took shots after the shoot. It was fun.”
After The Stranger story ran Feb. 13, Davis became somewhat of a celebrity around town.
“Sometimes I’ll go out and people will ask me if I’m the girl from The Stranger,” she said. “If I say no, they say, ‘You’re a liar.’ One guy had a picture of me in his wallet. Another guy made me sign an autograph. My friends are like, ‘God, you’re such a geek.’”
As for the honor, Davis says she’s really not that concerned.
“There’s lots of attractive bartenders around,” she said. “But that alone doesn’t sell drinks. It’s also the atmosphere.”
At Finn MacCool’s, however, her co-workers say that the title of Seattle’s sexiest bartender somewhat fits Davis.
“My best friend Shay has a colossal crush on her,” Winn said. “He has never spoken to her. He’s never said, ‘Hi’ or ‘Hello’ or anything. But he compares every girl he dates to her.
“She gets hit on all the time. … They leave her love notes and their phone numbers next to credit card bills,” Winn said.
I have a shot and we drink. So much for using protection against the wiles of Seattle’s sexiest bartender. We swap stories about alcohol, and then swap phone numbers for interviewing purposes. We drink more, and my notes start to get blurry. Then I drop the $64,000 question, the “to be, or not to be” of bar queries:
“So, is Seattle’s sexiest bartender single?”
“At the moment, yes,” she says, laughing.
Just don’t count on her to mix business with pleasure — unless it comes in a shot glass.
[Reach reporter Clark J. Fredricksen at firstname.lastname@example.org.]
Finn MacCool’s is located on University Way Northeast, between Northeast 42nd Street and Northeast 43rd Street.
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