CPBA Bartender of the Month: Andrew Schneider

CPBA Bartender of the Month: Andrew Schneider
November 1, 2016 Amber Bruce

Twitter time – describe your job in under 140 characters:

Tour guide through the confusing world of spirits, wine and beer. Ambassador for having a good time. Darth 3-PO, drink-dispensing Sith Droid.

How did you get into bartending? What was the inspiration for your career route?

It was a lucky act of necessity, actually. I was the wine director at a restaurant in Kelowna and I had no intention of ever bartending. It looked really stressful. Then the bar manager quit and I was strongly encouraged to take over. I had never made a drink or been behind a bar in my life. I instantly fell in love. That was just over a year and a half ago. Now I live in Vancouver and work with Jay Jones at Vij’s and it is awesome. The best part of my job as a wine guy was when I made a recommendation that made people happy. As a bartender I get to create entire experiences that make people happy. It was a no brainer.

Is it barrels, carbonation or cocktails on tap? What’s the latest trend you see in bartending?

I would say on the whole I’m seeing a rise in cocktails on tap, but I don’t really understand the value in it. The best trend happening in bartending right now is a large and growing consensus that hospitality is the key to a great experience. We’re all friends and we’re all there to have a good time. There is no space for rude bartenders any longer; there are too many other places to get a proper drink.

What’s the best part of what you do? And what’s the most challenging part?

I think they’re one and the same, and that is making people happy. Sometimes people are already happy and I just have to keep that going. Other times they must be convinced to have a good time. But when someone takes the time to tell me they had a great time, because of the drink I made them or the service that was provided, that makes my night.

What is your favorite spirit to work with behind the bar?

I like almost all things with alcohol in them, so I don’t know that I have a good answer. I like to surprise people so if there is a spirit they haven’t had before or if they had a bad experience with it at some point I’ll use that. I like intensely flavoured things as a category.

Do you have a definitive cocktail style?

Whenever I create a drink my goal is to make something that didn’t exist before. Sometimes that’s a minor variation on an existing cocktail but my favourites are large departures. I like to take ingredients that shouldn’t work together and make them work. I like intense flavours and textures. I like drinks that are unabashedly delicious. I’ve always struggled to make elegant and delicate drinks.

What’s the most memorable moment you’ve ever had working behind a bar?

Such a hard question. I remember when I finally “got” how to stir a drink properly, back when I started to tend bar. That was a huge moment for me. I felt like a real bartender, and I’ll always carry that memory with me. These days, every time someone orders the same drink twice I’m really happy. Making a drink for Simon Difford and David Wondrich was cool, too.

What’s the next step for you when it comes to tending bar?

Keep improving every day. I have so many more books to read and techniques to hone. I’m going to keep competing because I enjoy it and it pushes me out of my comfort zone. I like the limitations they impose on the creative process. The end result is so different than if I had just been given free reign.

What’s your go to drink to drink?

While the Daiquiri is probably my favourite classic cocktail, I find myself drinking Smokey and the Bandit from Keefer Bar when I’m at home. It is simple, smoky, bitter and sweet: a few of my favourite things.

What’s your go to drink to mix?

If it’s dealer’s choice I often go with a Bennett if I’m thinking gin. It’s a Gimlet with angostura bitters, and it is quality. It always surprises people. La Louisiane if someone usually drinks an Old Fashioned or a Manhattan.

Fernet, Mezcal or Chartreuse?

Mezcal. The other two are delicious but not as versatile. And if we’re just doing shots I’m still picking Mezcal.


Brought to you each month by our friends at: