Twitter time – describe your job in under 140 characters:
To provide our guests with a memorable experiences, introducing them to new spirits & cocktails. An escape from their world outside your bar.
How did you get into bartending? What was the inspiration for your career route?
My first mixed drinks experience would have been when I was 8 or so. I loved making Virgin Caesar’s and Bloody Mary’s, playing with the condiments and pickled goods in our fridge. However I first got paid to make drinks when I was 20, working at a family restaurant with all you can eat soup, salad and bread.
I was really inspired to follow this career path after Tales ’13. I was already bartending 5 years but always to pay for school. After experiencing the amount of passion and seeing the growth bartending has gone through I knew this was a ride I wanted to be part of. One year later I moved from Saskatoon to work in Vancouver and grow as a professional bartender.
Is it barrels, carbonation or cocktails on tap? What’s the latest trend you see in bartending?
On tap cocktails are great, they can be delivered fast, consistent, and require minimal clean up. All of which are attractive when working in a high volume cocktail room.
Behind the stick I feel education is huge. Our guests are extremely educated and enthusiastic about what we do. Being able to answer questions such as what botanicals are in X gin and whats the history of Y cocktail. It’s all part of that special experience where the guest gets to feel more connected to what they’re drinking.
The biggest trend outside of the glass is bartenders health. Looking at our diets and exercise outside of work hours. A healthy amount of stretching and rest, as well the amount of ‘Market Research’ that goes on. We are now looking at this being a 30+ year career and sustaining ourselves for this marathon as opposed to being rockstars in a 100m dash is very important.
What’s the best part of what you do? And what’s the most challenging part?
The best part is getting to work around new and lively people every day. I also love working with my hands and crafting something unique. Having the opportunity to meet new people and create something specifically for them is something really special.
The most challenging part is balancing life outside the bar, especially when most of your friends are bartenders. Staying active and keeping hobbies that are not necessarily bar related. It can also be difficult working most holidays and family events, keeping family and work balance is important.
What is your favorite spirit to work with behind the bar?
We pour a lot of whisky and gin at The Diamond. Gin is fun because the variety and dimensions each bottle possesses, it lends itself to such variety when looking at the simplest (and usually most delicious) cocktails such as a Martini or Negroni.
Spring and Summer has seemed to have me pouring more Aqave and Pisco. The bright grassy, melon and pepper notes really scream hot weather and beautiful green scenery.
Do you have a definitive cocktail style?
I don’t know if I have a definitive style, I definitely love reading the old books and learning original recipes. However realizing that todays palates are different than a hundred years ago and we also have so many new products and produce that weren’t available back then. I feel that nothing is written in stone and you should honour the traditions and past but embrace the current time and era. This is the ‘Platinum Age’ of bartending and nothing is off limits.
What’s the most memorable moment you’ve ever had working behind a bar?
Easily having Gordie Howe at my bar in Saskatoon. He was in to drop the puck during World Jr.’s and was staying in the hotel I worked for. The night before he and his son-in-law came down and had a couple domestic beer. It happened that my girlfriend was sitting at the bar during this time too. She had a chance to try on his Stanley Cup ring and after gave him a hug, to which he followed with a joke about having to take a cold shower after. He was very charming, quick witted and kind hearted; An absolute honour to have served such a Canadian Legend.
What’s the next step for you when it comes to tending bar?
To keep learning and growing. There is so much out there to explore, whether it’s diving deeper into the history of a spirit and the culture which it comes from. Moving to wine and beer education with so many wineries in our Province and working near ‘Yeast Van’. Our city also has an amazing coffee culture with tons of local roasters, some within blocks of The Diamond. The great thing about this job is there will never be a lack of stimulation for you to discover.
What’s your go to drink to drink?
Anything Vermouth or Sherry based. At home I usually pour Vermouth Cocktails, I have a decent amount of bitters at home that keep me entertained with slight accents and variations. When I am out I’ll go for 50:50 Martini’s or Manhattan’s, they have enough body and abv to keep me drinking them through the evening without getting too overwhelmed. I also have a guilty pleasure for a double Rye Whisky and Ginger-Ale with at least 5 dashes of Ango…..and a lime.
What’s your go to drink to mix?
I love making guests a classic that they haven’t had before. Say making a De La Louisiane, Fourth Regiment, or Martinez instead of a Manhattan. It’s a chance to tell the guest a story and expose them to something new that they wouldn’t make at home. We get to show our guests the variety and spectrum of ingredients that can be used to create something new for them out of something they are familiar with. Hopefully encouraging them to drink better and more exciting cocktails at home.
Fernet, Mezcal or Chartreuse?
Fernet=Shots, Mezcal=Neat, Chartreuse=On Ice
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