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Montreal Bartenders Demand Less Arrogance and Government Interference

Also, flair antics are ok sometimes.

Inside Baldwin Barmacie
Inside Baldwin Barmacie
Baldwin Barmacie
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In a bid to take the pulse of the cocktail scene in Montreal, we recently invited bar professionals - some of whom work at the 12 essential Montreal cocktail bars - to answer a range of questions.

Today in part two of the survey results we reveal answers to:

1. The Montreal cocktail scene needs more:
2. The Montreal cocktail scene needs less:
3. What is the most underrated cocktail bar in Montreal?
4. Flair bartending: like, dislike or indifferent?

Peruse the responses and it seems clear that a lot of bartenders in the city want to be able to make bitters, infuse alcohols, barrel-age cocktails, and the like. Current laws prohibit all of that. Also, several survey-takers would like to see less self-importance in the profession. And more female bartenders as well.

Additionally, it looks like B1 and Jockey are two of the most underrated cocktails bars in Montreal.

Here, in no particular order, are the responses.

Graham Warner (Le Mal Nécessaire)
1. Attention to the clients. Bartenders take themselves too seriously. Smart bars know the last important thing they serve isn't cocktails. It isn't wine, it isn't beer it isn't food. It's their guests.
2. Vodka and soda drinkers.
3. I'd like to think we are. We've done lots. But we've got so much more coming!
4. Hate it in bars. And many don't know this, but I was consistently amongst the top 10-15 in the world in my early 20s. I HATE seeing it in bars. Make the damn drink. On exhibition however it can be entertaining.

Kate Boushel (Freelance consultant)
1. Bartenders who strive to teach the public and patrons about the art of cocktails without being highbrow about it and who help develop the community. Montreal needs more people like Sam Dalcourt, Mélanie Aumais, Gabrielle Pannaccio, Tony Galdes, Alexis Green. Montreal also definitely needs more female bartenders. The whole Prohibition trend significantly reduced the number of women out there.
2. Bartenders who act like know-it-alls and dismiss fellow bartenders. We all love what we do and have varying levels of knowledge and different tastes.
3. 132 Bar Vintage.
4. I find it overrated but it can add style to a pour.

Sam Dalcourt (Co-founder of La Ligue des Coqueteliens du Québec, industry veteran)
1. More open-minded laws about infusions and cocktail batching.
2. Egos.
3. Jockey
4. Like it.

Samuel Trudeau (Mile Public House)
1. Competition improviser de style pop-up. Food and cocktail pairing.
2. Mixologist haha. I just want a drink!
3. Mile Public House
4. Working flair.

Geneviève Beaulieu (Wunderbar)
1. Visibilité.
2. (no answer)
3. Dominion Square Tavern
4. Like it.

Raphaël Brière (University Club of Montreal)
1. Customers! Freedom from RACJ regulations. Products to work with from SAQ. Better policies for private imports. Openness to newcomers.
2. Know-it-alls and improvised gurus. Owners cheating their clientele. Snobbism. Morality police not knowing their bitters from their illegal hooch. Difford’s--dependence.
3. Whisky Café
4. So long as my cocktail comes in as fast and as good.

Gabrielle Panaccio (Lab, Incorruptibles, Proxibar)
1. De barman qui sont actuellement barman et non qui se disent être barman.
2. Bloody Caesars.
3. Le Mal Nécessaire, really really nice bar.
4. Like it.

Jonathan Homier (B1 Cocktail Club)
1. Bartender sans prétention.
2. Mixologue prétentieux.
3. Kabinet
4. Indifferent.

Alexis Green (Foodlab at the Société des Arts Technologiques)
1. Reasonably priced cocktail bars.
2. Giant egos and greedy pricing.
3. Barocco
4. Like it.

Léa Messier François (Quebec Scope)
1. Short drinks.
2. Less sugar syrups.
3. Les Incorruptibles
4. Indifferent.

Alexandre Valois (SuWu)
1. Permission comme les autres pays sur la modification des produits. Infusions, bitters, etc.
2. Flavoured Mojitos. Flavoured Smirnoff vodka. Nightclubs.
3. B1
4. Dislike it.

Maxime Coubes (Spirit House Montreal)
1. Mentors and time, tasting and events.
2. Montréal a besoin de moins d'ouvertures de bars mal réfléchies basées sur le même concept.
3. B1
4. Dislike it.

Nicolas Villalon (Brugal National Brand Ambassador)
1. Tiki culture, rums and gins, bar/hospitality shops, cocktails/spirits tradeshows.
2. Egos. Bar/restaurant conglomerates.
3. 132 Bar Vintage
4. Like it.

Jeremy Bourgeois (L'atelier d'Argentine)
1. De femmes.
2. D’hommes.
3. Barroco
4. Indifferent.

Tony Galdes (B1 Cocktail Club)
1. Cocktails oriented on flavours and products rather than marketing purposes (Mason jars, Caesars with 3 lbs of garnishes, anything made with candy).
2. See previous answer.
3. Taverne Midway
4. Badly represented by bad bartenders.

Andrew Whibley (Mme Lee, consultant)
1. Exposure to the rest of the world. We are years behind London, New York or Paris. People need to get out and see what the actual trends are and quit just being influenced by what everyone else in Montreal is doing.
2. Young bartenders who have done a bartending course and think they're all world mixologists. Be patient, focus on your craft but it takes time. Also focus more on serving your guests than trying a Japanese hard shake.
3. B1
4. Dislike it.

Thierry Valiquette (Le Bremner)
1. Ambiance.
2. Overly loaded cocktail lists with 20 ingredients per drink.
3. Kabinet
4. Indifferent.

Jean Vasquez (La Belle et la Boeuf)
1. Needs more professionalism behind the bar. Also it needs more open and fair competitions.
2. The Montreal cocktail scene needs less beers!
3. Carlos & Pepe's
4. When it’s well done, the best!

Alexandre Lefebvre (Huis Clos, Laurea)
1. Passionate bartenders who believe that hospitality is an artform.
2. Pretentious hipsters who care more about the process of their homemade syrups than the experience they offer their guests.
3. B1
4. Like it.

Guillaume Maillé (Baron Samedi)
1. De barmaid de carrière. Plus d'importation avec un accès plus facile.
2. Flair.
3. Jockey
4. Dislike it.

Jean-Maxime Giguère (132 Bar Vintage)
1. All bartenders need to join forces to put the spotlight on our scene. We need to spread our knowledge.
2. Molecular and flairing!
3. Jockey
4. Dislike it.

Jay Lawson (N sur Mackay)
1. Recognition.
2. Pretentious people.
3. N sur Mackay
4. Like it.

You can review part one of the survey results here. Tune in later in the week as the panel shares some of the most difficult aspects of the job and general thoughts on the contemporary cocktail scene in Montreal.