Bartender Confessions: We Asked, They Answered

Summer drinking trends, cocktails everyone in the industry should know how to make, and more from Vancouver's top bartenders.  

July 5, 2017

By Vancouver Magazine / Photo: Aaron Aubrey

What are you most looking forward to drinking this summer?

“Long drinks are due for some love: cool, refreshing and effervescent cocktails that offer understated or absent spirit intensity (Tom Collins, Long Island Iced Tea, Dark ’n’ Stormy) are a challenge to make expressive but are so satisfyingly mellow and zesty when done right.”—Jay Jones, beverage and media manager, Vij’s Group

“Drinks with low ABV ingredients* (e.g. Cobbler, Americano)—simple yet refreshing and designed for the long game.”—Stephen Whiteside, beverage director, Aburi Restaurants

“Low proof cocktails that use fortified products like port, sherry and vermouth. We’ve seen this trend developing slowly over the last few years and it seems like this year will be the year it really catches on.”—David Wolowydnik, Fairmont Pacific Rim

“Incorporating beers and ciders in cocktails is always tasty, but they do go down quite easy which makes them almost dangerous.”—Jasmine Radu, lead bartender, UVA Wine and Cocktail Bar

*6 of 15 bartenders predict we’ll be seeing low-proof cocktails on menus this summer.

(Photo: Aaron Aubrey.)

What cocktail trend are you tired of?

“I’m not into cocktails smoked to order. I love the smoky flavours in scotch and mezcal, but I find smoking guns to be messy and inconsistent.”—Amber Bruce, bar manager, the Keefer Bar

“Beer cocktails. I’ve just never understood them.”—Kevin Brownlee, bar manager, AnnaLena

“Gin and tonic. I think it’s time for whisky and soda to take over!”—Hugo Finan, head bartender, Kissa Tanto

“Sweet cocktails and artificial flavours have both been around for a long time and I think they should be axed. Bars now have the resources to access fresh and sustainable ingredients with more natural and complex flavours.”—Grant Sceney, Fairmont Pacific Rim

“Anything with more than five ingredients that are doctored or homemade—and priced at more than $20. Simplicity is key, efficiency is key, quality is key; don’t overcomplicated everything you touch.—Lauren Mote, co-proprietor, Bittered Sling Bitters

“The Caesar is one cocktail where the garnish has become more important than the drink itself and, because everyone adds their own special twist at home, making them has become a fool’s errand.”—Cooper Tardivel, Head Bartender, Hawksworth

(Photo: Joann Pai.)

What drink do you order to test a bartender’s skills?

“I would have to say a classic daiquiri.* Although it’s a very simple cocktail—made with only rum, lime and sugar—it’s surprisingly hard to make. But when the perfect balance is achieved, it truly sings.”—Robyn Gray, head bartender, Prohibition

“If anyone makes me a nice martini with a twist of lemon peel, nice and cold with high-quality gin, they’ve won me over!”—Max Borrowman, bar manager, Juniper Kitchen and Bar

“For me, the margarita is a great way to learn the merit of a bartender. Simple to make with many variations, I’m looking for confidence and technique.”—Adam Domet, The Diamond

“A daiquiri is such a sensitive cocktail. You need to know what your product is and what kind of rum you’re working with. If you’re not careful, it’s very easy to serve a daiquiri that’s far too tart or far too  sweet.”—Sabrine Dhaliwal, bar manager, UVA Wine and Cocktail Bar

“An Old Fashioned. It’s easy to screw up if people are trying to cut corners.”—James Welk, bar manager, Maenam

*7 of 15 bartenders said everyone in the biz should know how to make a classic daiquiri (and no…they don’t mean the frozen slushy kind).

For more on the city’s best cocktails, subscribe to the Vancouver Insider!

 

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