CPBA Bartender of the Month: Kelsey Ramage

CPBA Bartender of the Month: Kelsey Ramage
November 1, 2015 Amber Bruce
Twitter time – describe your job in under 140 characters.
Bartender at Dandelyan, London.
How did you get into bartending? What was the inspiration for your career route?
I fell into it while trying to pay my way through school, taking cover charge in a supperclub at 18… I ended up being with the company for 5ish years and learned a lot about the business doing everything from coat check to management and eventually the bar. The day I quit for a “real job” my boss told me I was an idiot, and I came back 1 month later asking for a few bar shifts because I missed it so much. I realised it could rewarding and creative than I thought.  I left Toronto to travel and work in Ireland, then came to Vancouver. I recently decided I wanted to step away from management and go learn from the best in the industry, which naturally led me to London.


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

Everyone seems to be going back to basics, yeah there’s cool things like airs and foams and fuck knows what but there are guys are taking obscure classics and making a point of bringing them back really well. Or tweaking some flavour or playing with some ingredient that can be done better given the techniques we have access to today. Like using an immersion blender instead of a dry shake, that’s probably the simplest ‘why has no one done this yet’ moments I’ve had. Although there have been a few of those.

What’s the best part of what you do? And what’s the most challenging part?
Working a busy night is so fun, brings the team together especially when everyone is on their game. Staying inspired is always swinging back and forth. You may know weeks in advance that a comp deadline is coming up, have no ideas, then you’re on a bus on the way home from work at 4am and suddenly think of something.
What is your favorite spirit to work with behind the bar?
Dang, rum is fun… There are also so many liqueurs and spirits over here that we just haven’t gotten into Canada yet. Every shift I’m like hey, can I try that? It’s amazing.
Do you have a definitive cocktail style?
Definitely not. I’m all over the map, I have an addictive personality, I’ll eat PB and J for like, a month in the same way I’ll be obsessed with a rum Manhattan one week and clarifying a pina colada the next.
What’s the most memorable moment you’ve ever had working behind a bar?
I think a major turning point was after a competition last year. One of the judges offered to come into my bar before set up (after the competition) and provide feedback on their own time. The things they taught me were details I had never thought about while I was on the bar. It really changed the way I thought about some things, and made me want to learn more.
What’s the next step for you when it comes to tending bar?
I’ll be at Dandelyan for the foreseeable future. It’s only been a few shifts and I’ve learned so much from these guys, it’s incredible. Eventually my work visa will run out and by then I hope to be ready to open my own spot back home.
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