CPBA Bartender of the Month: Micky Valens

CPBA Bartender of the Month: Micky Valens
May 28, 2015 Amber Bruce

(brought to you by Forty Creek Canadian Whisky)

Twitter time – describe your job in under 140 characters:

I do my best to provide my guests utmost quality in the following: Cocktails, Company, and Camarderie.

How did you start in this business? What was the inspiration for your career route?

I started as a bus boy at a very successful brewpub. I was always intrigued by restaurants/bars that had a great atmosphere. I would always choose where to eat or drink based on the visual appeal and general feel of a room over anything else.

My opportunity to bartend came unexpectedly. I was a server at the Yaletown Distillery at the time and I started taking shifts behind the bar, so the first thing I learned to do was shake up a French 75. Being exposed to craft cocktails caused me to fall in love with the art of making them, and drinking them. Cocktail bartending sparked my creative side and my charismatic side in harmony.

 What’s the latest trend or next big trend you see in bartending? 

I’ve seen some amazing creativity in terms of ingredients in cocktails the past couple of years. Everyone is leaping outside the box and exploring ideas that are new and innovative. However, I would definitely like to see some more creativity in the field of creating a unique, memorable atmosphere.

     The way you talk, present yourself, and carry your presence around the bar speaks volumes to your guests. It’s easy not to pay attention to these things. It’s just as important as the quality of your cocktails to me and I think that bartenders in Vancouver are slowly but surely starting to tap into that aspect of tending bar.

What’s the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? And what’s the most challenging?

The best part is easily creating memorable moments at the bar with my guests. Whether I am educating people on the craft of drink or just shooting the shit – there is an art to leaving your guest with something to talk about to their circle.

The most challenging part would be maintaining the enthusiasm to do so on a day-to-day basis. We all have problems or challenges that may or may not be work-related, but keeping it together and being the life of the party going on behind the wood is something I am still trying to master. You’ve gotta be an entertainer!

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

Other than a few after parties I am forbidden to speak of – I once taught a player from the Buffalo Sabres how to make a Penicillin. It was at a private party for the team and I had him step behind the bar.

A moment I’ll also never forget is making my first drink at my first shift behind the stick at the Diamond. I totally shattered a cocktail glass while making a Manhattan for my boss. Not the best first impression but apparently the Manhattan tasted great and I’m still here.

Do you have a definitive cocktail style?

When it comes to cocktails I enjoy making the most, I tend to stray towards refreshing cocktails that still stimulate the palate with complexity. A Mezcal Margarita is typically the flavor profile I go for in a drink – bright and thirst quenching with a touch of earthiness. Fresh fruit and herbs are definitely a vice.  I’m always aiming to minimize quantity of ingredients and maximize quality of flavor, and fresh ingredients are a sure fire way to achieve that.

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

The next step is definitely running my own beverage program. A great drink menu should be balanced, exciting, and efficient among other things. Developing a successful drink list and a killer team capable of executing said drink list is a crucial aspect to a successful business in this industry. That’s where I will be aiming my focus on in due time.


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