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Happy Hour Hug: Tanya Chapman of Engine House No. 9

Bandito Betty back to serving booze after baby

Tanya Chapman was named Best Sidekick in the Weekly Volcano's 2010 Best of Tacoma 3D issue. Photo credit: Patrick Snapp

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Tanya Chapman is a fixture in the Tacoma bartending scene. I met Chapman at a Tacoma Beer Club gathering at the now defunct Stadium Bistro. She was pulling duty as TBC founder Steph DeRosa's sidekick, a position she held for years as documented in DeRosa's previous columns for this rag. Known throughout the land as Bandito Betty (ask her), Chapman has found a home with X Group Restaurants, specifically the Engine House No. 9. Recently back behind the bar after giving birth to a beautiful girl, I caught up with Bandito for a little Q&A.

WEEKLY VOLCANO: Tell us a bit about how you got into the bartending business.

TANYA CHAPMAN: I got into bartending because I was a door girl at a Chicago nightclub called Crobar. One night a bartender didn't show up and they asked me to fill in. I was thrown to the wolves, but loved every minute of it. Fifteen years later here I am.

VOLCANO: That first experience had to be scary.

CHAPMAN: It was a little scary. It was loud in the club making it hard to hear what people were ordering. I only knew recipes of drinks that I had drunk myself.  I had to ask the other bartenders how to make drinks. It felt like being on stage naked with a million people staring and yelling at me trying to place orders. I had to learn real quickly and lose my fear or I was never going to survive the night. Luckily, after an hour or two, I realized most people would order the same drinks repeatedly so I was able to remember how to make them.

VOLCANO: What drink do you wish you had invented?

CHAPMAN: I wish I invented beer. There are endless possibilities for tastes and styles.

VOLCANO: Beer or Wine?

CHAPMAN: Beer is more my speed. If I'm drinking wine, it's cheap and not super fancy. I wouldn't have had much success in the wine field.

VOLCANO: Who - dead or alive - would you most like to meet and pour a drink for?

CHAPMAN: I would love to meet and pour a drink for Tom Hanks. I imagine he'd be fascinating and hilarious. I love that guy.

VOLCANO: When you hear the following words what do you think of?

Bandito Betty: "Best cap gun gang I was ever a part of."

Tacoma: "Of all the places I've lived I can see staying here forever - perfectly diverse, with a little city and a little suburb. I'm definitely home."

X Group Restaurants: "Best company I've ever worked for. It very much feels like family. Offering something for everyone with each different style at its four locations. Of course, there's also the bonus that I met the love of my life there."

Motherhood: "A gift every day that I never thought I would have. She makes me feel happier than I've ever been, but dang it's hard work. Hats off to all the moms out there!"

VOLCANO: What are your favorite places for a drink in the South Sound?

CHAPMAN: Of course my first choice for drinks is E9. Other than X Group locations, I really like DOA, Hanks, the West End - anywhere that has a cool relaxed vibe where you always run into people from the neighborhood. I used to go to Malarkeys by my old apartment. I really miss that place. There was always someone or something crazy going on to keep the eyes entertained. Most bars frown upon me trying to bring the baby in though.

HAPPY HOUR: 3-6 p.m. Monday-Friday, $2.53 off all bar snacks (appetizers), $2.99-$3.99 pizza by the slice, $3.50 E9 flagship pints, 50 cents off wines and wells

ENGINE HOUSE NO. 9, opens 11 a.m. Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, 611 N. Pine St., Tacoma, 253.272.3435

LINK: South Sound Happy Hour App

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Q&A with Brotherhood Lounge bartender Elizabeth Lord

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