In Memoriam: The Great Rocky Yeh

Rocky Yeh, Jim Romdall [Rocky Yeh, Flickr]
Rocky Yeh and Jim Romdall [Rocky Yeh, Flickr]
Rocky Yeh []
The great Rocky Yeh. []
There was a collective heartbreak this week as news spread of the loss of the great Rocky Yeh. Friends from every corner of the world gathered online to share stories of Yeh’s love and laughter; remembering moments that made Rocky such an extraordinary force in so many lives.

This past Sunday, he died in his home as the result of a known heart condition. Rocky was 42 years old.

Though he had extensive classical music training and a previous career in technology, Rocky was best known for his work in the cocktail world; most recently as the “Gardien des Chais” [Keeper of the Cellar] at Maison Ferrand. A frequent world traveler, Rocky was, both at home and in heart, a Seattle man. As a graduate of the University of Washington, Husky sports were top priority, and Seahawks games were never missed. He held season tickets to the Seattle Symphony many seasons over, and was actively involved in the Seattle chapter of the United States Bartenders’ Guild.

Rocky’s reach went far beyond Seattle city limits, however. In addition to cocktail and rum conventions across the country, he was also a regular at international stops of the Tales of the Cocktail “Tales on Tour” gatherings, helping to educate bartenders and spirits professionals around the world. He was a staple at Portland Cocktail Week and a fearless leader at Camp Runamok. He committed much of his time to further the aims of spirits-related causes, like the Tales of the Cocktail Foundation and Speed Rack

In 2009, he became a friend of Daily Blender. Active in eGullet culinary forums, and on the verge of launching his own blog, NW Vivant, Rocky was in attendance at a Seattle luncheon held in honor of chef David Chang’s visit to the Emerald City. While most guests were clad in sweaters and jeans, Rocky stood out from the crowd, arriving in a proper three-piece suit. He was a constant in the spirits coverage on Daily Blender from that point forward, both as a confidant and as a connector and contributor.

Over the decade, a dear friendship was formed over food and drink adventures, from dive bars and football brunches to full-menu dinners and late-night cocktails. Whether Portland or Seattle or Edinburgh, Scotland, Rocky’s jubilant bear hugs made it seem as if time had never passed. He was not only a consummate professional and a bon vivant with the best bar and restaurant recommendations for any city, he was a loyal friend. Humble and selfless despite his rockstar status, exuding joy even when weary from his travels. Young or old, newbie or cocktail veteran, all were welcome at his table.

He was a king…and the world won’t be the same without him.

A toast to the great Rocky Yeh.

**A memorial celebration for Rocky Yeh will take place at Seattle’s WithinSodo event space on Monday, January 13, 2020, from 6:00 pm to midnight. In great Rocky tradition, all are welcome.**

Rocky Yeh, Jennifer Matthewson []
Rocky Yeh and Jennifer Matthewson []
~Jennifer Matthewson

Photo credit: Jennifer Matthewson / Daily Blender, unless otherwise noted.

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