CPBA Bartender of the Month: Tristan Ley

CPBA Bartender of the Month: Tristan Ley
February 1, 2018 Amber Bruce

OG Twitter time – who are you and what do you do (in under 140 characters):

My name is Tristan Ley, and I’ve been bartending for four years. I recently took a new position at Tableau Bar and Bistro in Coal Harbour.

How did you get into bartending? 

Good timing. I wasn’t happy with the direction of my previous career and was looking for a change. I knew the bar manager at the Vancouver Club at the time and he invited me to spend a night behind the bar to see how I liked it. I’ve been in love with bartending and hospitality ever since.

Do you have a definitive cocktail style?

As much as I’d like to say yes, not really. I enjoy constructing big, spirit forward cocktails as much as I do light and refreshing ones. As long as there’s balance.

Where do you look for inspiration when designing new drinks?

Books. We’re so fortunate in that there are endless resources at our fingertips now – bar manuals, cocktail publications, instagram posts, blogs…you name it, it’s out there and available. Plus we have a boon of cocktail talent in Vancouver which makes it easy to be inspired.

Any local products you are particularly excited about?

I’m a big fan of Ms. Better’s Bitters. Their range is fantastic and their chocolate is the deepest and most robust I’ve tried. And as an avid akvavit drinker I’m partial to whatever Long Table puts out in that spectrum.

Worst drink you’ve ever created?

I’m not sure if this counts as it’s pre-bartending. My best friend’s father described to us what a pisco sour was when we were 18 or 19, and handed us a bottle of Chilean pisco. Long story short, an unmeasured amount of pisco, lime juice, powdered sugar and a quarter carton of egg whites whisked with a fork was pretty gross.

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

As cliché as this sounds, guest satisfaction. Whether it’s a classic with some history behind it, a proprietary with an unique ingredient, or the perfect glass of…whatever. Having a guest genuinely pleased with what you’ve put in front of them is tough to beat.

As with any creatively driven occupation, there are ‘writers block’ type moments. They range from designing a program to a single cocktail to curating a list. They’re inevitable.

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

Probably mezcal at the moment. It’s a great base or modifier, and can stand up to big citrusy notes or be the backbone of a stirred down bruiser.

Do you have any notable “teachable moments” from behind the bar?

Something I learned in my first year tending bar is the beautiful simplicity of the Daiquiri: “If you can’t make rum, lime juice and sugar taste good, you’ve got a serious problem.” That was Sean McGuigan during a guest shift at the Vancouver Club and I’ll never forget it – simplicity is key.

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

During my time at the Vancouver Club with Alex Black, we hosted a group of delegates from private clubs all over the world. Alex and I created a greeting cocktail which had a garnish of essential oils suspended in helium balloons above the bar. We popped the balloons simultaneously with flammable magicians string and filled the room with the scent. The audible bang, the visual of the flaming string and the scent (along with a great drink) was pretty memorable.

What’s your go to drink to mix for someone who doesn’t typically drink cocktails?

A Clover Club or a Hotel Georgia. Frothy, citrusy goodness – what’s not to like? The Vancouver connection is always a bonus for the HG as well.

Favorite local bar? Favorite bar abroad?

The Alibi Room for local – my favourite wings in town and unbeatable tap list. Abroad would be Ruby in Copenhagen. Unparalleled hospitality, unreal cocktails. And you’d walk by it 50 times not knowing it’s one of the best bars in the world.

On a night off, what are you doing?

I’m a bit of a homebody, so either cooking or watching a movie with a bottle of Spanish wine.

Your dream boilermaker? (Can be anything you like!)

This took some thought. Best I could come up with is Siete Misterios Pechuga and Four Winds Brewing Pomona Red Wine Barrel Aged Sour.