CPBA Bartender of the Month: Kristi Leigh Akister

CPBA Bartender of the Month: Kristi Leigh Akister
October 1, 2016 Amber Bruce

Twitter time – describe your job in under 140 characters:

Two parts Momma boss, one part booze nerd with a couple healthy dashes of sassy repartee.

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

I got into the industry basically straight out of high school. I started out as a server, and after a couple months of hustling one of the bartenders at the pub I was working at called in sick. My boss looked at me and said, “hey Blondie, you think you got what it takes? Prove it”. I had no idea what I was doing, but I ran circles around those boys. That was 15 years ago, and I’m still hauling ass.

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

The remarkable thing about this industry is the constant evolution of the art of the craft. There’s always something new and exciting just around the corner, but the most important trend I see these days in this demanding field is the attention to personal health and well being bartenders are really starting to consider. When we spend our days putting everyone else first, it’s integral to bring reflection inward and focus on maintaining balance and wellness within ourselves.

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

The best part of the job is easily the connections I get to make with people. Whether it’s their first time in, or a devoted regular, I get to cultivate an experience every day for every single person that sits down at my bar. Over the years I have had the pleasure of sharing so many beautiful, loving and occasionally heartbreaking moments with my guests and I always feel truly honored that they look forward to sharing those moments with me.

The most challenging part of my job? Saying no to that first whiskey. Or the second one for that matter.

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

I love working with local distilleries, and helping showcase how unique and special the BC craft spirit community is. I couldn’t pick just one favorite, but I’m currently mildly obsessed with The Woods Spirit co. Amaro. On the rocks, stirred up in a delicious cocktail or straight out of the bottle, it’s a beautiful spirit that just nails it.

Do you have a definitive cocktail style?

The only thing stylish about me is my hair and even that I can’t take credit for.

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

There have been so many extraordinary moments, but the one that stands out the clearest was just recently when I brought a enthusiastic and eager back of house employee who had never measured an ounce onto the bar team as a bar back. That kid worked harder than I ever thought possible and today he is one of the most intuitive, talented and genuine bartenders I have ever had the pleasure of working with. He even teaches this old salty dog a thing or two every now and then.

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

It’s been a whirlwind year, and I think the next step forward is taking a step back and appreciating everything and everyone that has helped me get to where I am today. After that, the sky’s the limit.

What’s your go to drink to drink?

Tequila. In any and all forms.

What’s your go to drink to mix?

I tend to catch a little cheek for it, but a Mezcal last word with yellow Chartreuse and lemon. What can I say? I like ’em bright.

Fernet, Mezcal or Chartreuse?

All of the above. Don’t make a lady choose.


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