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The Epic Montreal Bartender Survey: Mentors, Mixology and Later Last Calls

The panel of experts weighs in a final time on a host of topics.

Bartenders tell all
Bartenders tell all
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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 we present part three of the survey results:

1. Should Montreal bars be allowed to stay open past 3:00 a.m.?
2. What is the best part of your job?
3. What is the most difficult part of your job?
4. How do you feel about the term "mixology"?
5. What are your general thoughts on the current Montreal cocktail scene?
6. Who is your most important cocktail mentor?

Here, in no particular order, the responses.

Romain Cavelier (Henri Saint-Henri)
1. No
2. Le contact avec le monde.
3. Porter un barril.
4. Indifferent
5. En grosse expansion!
6. Manuel Perrier.

Graham Warner (Le Mal Nécessaire)
1. No
2. The people.
3. The people.
4. Like flair bartenders, most mixologists learn to be mixologists before they actually learn to BARTEND.
5. It's blossoming!
6. Angus Winchester, Sean Finter, Franz Swinton.

Kate Boushel (Freelance consultant)
1. Yes! But it should be similar to London - different types of establishments have different closing times (pubs close earlier, bars around 3 and clubs close later).
2. Making sure everyone has a great time!
3. The long-term effects of the late-night schedule.
4. Like it
5. The scene is developing at a fast rate. In the past two years alone, we've seen at least 20 proper cocktail bars and restaurants open. Local bartenders competing in industry competitions, such as the Diageo World Class, Made With Love and Bols Around The World, is growing, knowledge is increasingly being shared across establishments and the public has now taken an interest, which forces us to keep up. We finally have our own cocktail week (Invasion Cocktail), which holds a lot of promise heading into year two. We may not yet be at the same level as London, New York or San Francisco, but our community is strong and filled with professionals who want to make sure we get there. And as always, Montreal finds ways to do it on its own terms.
6. Overall, probably Jim Meehan. In Montreal, Sam Dalcourt.

Sam Dalcourt (Co-founder of La Ligue des Coqueteliens du Québec, industry veteran)
1. Hell no.
2. Being close to the bartending community.
3. None
4. Like it
5. Montreal has a unique cocktail scene that has been booming since at least 5 years.
6. Dale DeGroff

Samuel Trudeau (Mile Public House)
1. If we can serve booze.
2. Doing what I love to do: craft cocktails.
3. Consistency
4. Overrated
5. Great and surprising and it gets bigger every year. Time to push it up to a bigger audience, ex. tv shows and educate the world.
6. Manny Vides

Geneviève Beaulieu (Wunderbar)
1. No
2. Faire des classique à la perfection, créer des nouveaux cocktails et partager avec des gens de partout.
3. Devoir travailler et rester motivé lors des soirées tranquilles.
4. Like it
5. Prends de plus en plus d'ampleur, la job devient de plus en plus respectée et appréciée.
6. Dale Degroff

Raphaël Brière (University Club of Montreal)
1. At their own discretion (London style).
2. Sharing my passion with customers, making sure every moment is an event in and of itself and they'll remember and cherish it.
3. Working for, and with, people who don't take their job as seriously as I do because the hospitality industry is an ''in-between'' thing. People not considering that for me, bartending, sommellerie and managing are a career choice.
4. Dislike it
5. Finally getting accepted and developing! It would be nice if the core cocktail scene was a bit more open to people from the outside though. It's good to see that cocktails aren't only a hipster thing too, we are in newspapers and online mass media now, rock on!
6. Gaz Regan, Jeffrey Morgenthaler and my grandfather

Gabrielle Panaccio (Lab, Incorruptibles, Proxibar)
1. Yes
2. Le service client.
3. Le service client ;).
4. Like it
5. Qu'elle se développe très rapidement, que nous avons beaucoup de ressources mais les restrictions de la SAQ nous bloque beaucoup. Nous avons de beaux bars, des bons barmans et une belle communauté.
6. Fabien Maillard

Jonathan Homier (B1)
1. No
2. Le service à la clientèle de A à Z.
3. Les mixologues.
4. Dislike it
5. Belle explosion de la scène, mais trop contrôlée par quelques gros joueurs pleins de moyens.
6. Gregory Almeida

Alexis Green (Foodlab at the Société des Arts Technologiques)
1. No
2. Creating cocktails and meeting new people.
3. Being asked what the cheapest thing on our menu is :P.
4. Like it
5. It's great, we are so spoiled (in a good way) here in Montreal. Tons of options with so many talented mixologists.
6. Don't really have one.

Léa Messier François (Quebec Scope)
1. No
2. Being able to make somebody smile with the first sip of a cocktail I just made.
3. Watching others mutilate a drink and giving it to a client.
4. I dislike it more than I like it for "show-off" reasons.
5. Love where it is heading!
6. Jeffrey Morgenthaler, Simon Caporale.

Alexandre Valois (SuWu)
1. Yes
2. Talking with clients and getting to know new people.
3. Counting the cash at the end of the shift completely drunk.
4. Dislike it.
5. There’s a boom right now in the cocktail industry. The bar is set very high. Lots of creativity and its very nice to have a cocktail community!
6. Taoufike Zrafi

Maxime Coubes (Spirit House Montreal)
1. No
2. Dealing with the people, practicing my passion everyday. Hosting customers and educating them. Discovering new products and new combos, discovering new techniques and new flavors.
3. Not seeing my wife often.
4. Dislike it.
5. Je pense que la scène générale à Montréal est sur le point d'exploser, il y a énormément de talents et de plus en plus de moyens, la nouvelle génération de bartenders formés par l'ancienne génération forme à son tour de nouveaux talents, les moyens sont là, l'innovation aussi. Cependant je pense que certains excellents bartenders ne sont plus assez attachés à la place dans laquelle ils travaillent, ils sont plus concentrés sur leur propre palmarès et les compétitions auxquelles ils participent, on y perd l'essence même du métier : construire une clientèle dans le temps, les ouvertures et fermetures rapides à Montréal ne favorisent pas ce côté éphémère, du coup les bartenders de compétition favorisent le jugement des experts de l'industrie plutôt que le jugement des clients ce qui à mes yeux est complètement absurde, on perd ici la base même du métier : servir les gens, leur faire passer un agréable moment, je préfère passer un moment tranquille à boire une bière avec un bartender agréable plutot que d'assister à un spectacle de flair ou de "mixologie", aujourd'hui à Montréal, on parle de faire vivre aux gens "une expérience", pour ma part au contraire j'aime boire une bière tranquille avec mes amis en toute simplicité et plaisanter avec le bartender, je trouve que cette idée se perd.
6. Sam Dalcourt.

Nicolas Villalon (Brugal National Brand Ambassador)
1. Yes
2. Interacting with the customers/guests/patrons.
3. Late night events and early morning meetings.
4. Like it.
5. Healthy, thriving, growing, maturing.
6. Matt Jones and Sam Dalcourt.

Jeremy Bourgeois (L'atelier d'Argentine)
1. No
2. Le sourire des clients apres avoir passé un belle soirée!
3. La constance.
4. Indifferent
5. La scène montréalaise est retarder par la SAQ et la police des alcools.

Tony Galdes (B1)
1. No
2. Being able to help clients discover new products, flavours and democratize the cocktail culture in general.
3. The low standards that clients have in Montreal. Service almost always has to be downgraded to satisfy clients. Also, the liquor laws which are incredibly stiff and dated.
4. Okay to identify the creative art but not when it's used as if it were a science.
5. Enormous growth in the last few years and a huge potential to make a name for ourselves on the international level, assuming that the government changes a few policies. Big challenge to break the "drink for the effect rather than the taste" ideology that most patrons still have.
6. Local: Sam Dalcourt, Fabien Maillard. International: Marian Beke, Luca Cinalli, Laurent Greco, Simon Caporale, Simon Difford, Julien Escot

Andrew Whibley (Mme Lee, consultant)
1. No
2. Being able to travel around the world for free and meet people from everywhere and learn from them and their experiences.
3. Dealing with shitty drunk people at 2:30 a.m.
4. Dislike it.
5. There's a lot of potential.
6. Manny Vides Jr.: he's the reason I started bartending, I owe him my life. Worldwide, Grant Achatz, his thought process alone towards flavours and senses is truly remarkable.

Thierry Valiquette (Le Bremner)
1. Depends on the days and times of year.
2. Service.
3. Managing the prep, making cocktails for the dining room, making cocktails for my bar and serving it alone all at the same time!
4. Very soft and overrated.
5. Le vibe est weird, pour ma part je ne travail pas dans un bar a cocktail et pour etre franc je ne les cotois que rarement!
6. Would be Vito my partner and Dan Lima at Rosewood.

Jean Vasquez (La Belle et La Boeuf)
1. No
2. Interaction with the people. Every day of work is different! The challenge and satisfaction of conquering new people with new flavours and tastes!
3. Nothing is difficult when you love what you do, its only challenging!
4. Dislike it.
5. Est en plein development, mais il manqué des prestations, competitions ouvertes et plus officiels, pour donner plus de credibilité a la profession!
6. From Peru, Walter Dávalos Cárdenas.

Alexandre Lefebvre (Huis Clos, Laurea)
1. Depends on the establishment.
2. Catering to people, and making their night special.
3. Maintaining the highest possible standard of service, while juggling two kids, a killer cold, and my writing career.
4. It predates the term "bartender", but is being used as an excuse to put other people down.
5. Effervescent, bursting with: originality, community, and a passion for service.
6. Jeff Beachbum Berry

Guillaume Maillé (Baron Samedi)
1. No
2. Un client satisfait.
3. Clients trop saouls.
4. Indifferent
5. Belle évolution.
6. Pierre Gadouas

Jean-Maxime Giguère (132 Bar Vintage)
1. No
2. Creating cocktails, making people smile and being behind the wood!
3. Long hours.
4. Dislike it.
5. We are getting there. We just need to have the RACJ off of our backs so we can create amazing things!
6. In Montreal: Chris Natale. In New York: Dushan Zaric from E.O.

Jay Lawson (N sur Mackay)
1. No
2. Engaging with customers and making a drink catering to what they want based on a couple questions.
3. At times dealing with intoxicated customers.
4. Indifferent
5. It's getting there
6. Jonathan Homier

You can review part one and two of the survey results here and here.

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