When it comes to choosing where to go for a drink, you might head to your nearest watering hole, or to a locale offering the best happy hour deals. But for some, they might solely head somewhere based on whose behind the bar, shaking up their favourite cocktail. Luckily, Canada is home to some of the best mixologists in the world. With creative, innovative, and skilled men and women located from coast to coast, creating delicious drinks that are prepared with care and passion. And while bars and restaurants might still be closed in most parts of the country amid the pandemic’s third wave, we invite you to get familiar with some of Canada’s most influential mixologists. So sit back, relax, and maybe have a cocktail on hand — here are 10 Canadian mixologists that have shaken up the country’s bar scene that you should have on your radar for the next time you’re allowed to head out for a drink.
Originally from Melbourne, James Grant is currently a bartender at Little Hong Kong in Edmonton. Most recently, James was crowned Diageo World Class Canada Bartender of the Year 2021 — which is essentially the Olympics of bartending competition. Following his triumphant win, James will head to Madrid, Spain where he will take part in the international version of the World Class Canada Finals.
Based in Toronto, Chantelle is a prominent figure in the city’s cocktail scene. With over a decade of experience in many facets of the hospitality industry, the award-winning bartender has worked as a bartender and mixologist at Parts & Labour — a west-end locale (now closed) with cocktails that were ranked as some of Toronto’s best. Today, you’ll find her working as a brand ambassador, beverage manager, and chair of the board of directors for the Dandelion Initiative, a not-for-profit organization that serves survivors of gender-based violence and organizations.
As the head bartender at Botanist in Vancouver, Jeff Savage is a household name in the mixologist world. Not only has he won the Diageo World Class Canada final (amongst other esteemed titles), he was also crowned as Canada’s bartender of the year in 2020. Throughout his career, he has opened and operated several bars, culminating with his present role at Botanist — one of Vancouver’s leading establishments in the west coast city’s exciting cocktail scene.
Mixologist, sommelier, and the co-founder of Bittered Sling Bitters, Vancouver-based Lauren Mote continues to be a leader in an industry that’s often male-dominated. Not only was she awarded Bartender of the Year in 2015 by Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards, but she was also the first woman to win the Diageo World Class Canada competition.
Born and raised in Melbourne, Grant began bartending at the age of 18 before making his way to Vancouver. Now, he oversees the cocktail program for the Fairmont Pacific Rim and can be found shakin’ cocktails behind the bar at the award-winning Lobby Lounge, and Vancouver’s Botanist restaurant.
Another Vancouverite, Kaitlyn was the former bar manager at the city’s farm-to-table restaurant Royal Dinette and the 2017 winner of the Diageo World Class competition, earning the coveted title of world’s best bartender. Most recently, she helped open he doors to a new venue, Capo and the Spritz, located in the boutique hotel Opus.
Based in Montreal, Aidan has been working in the hospitality industry since he was 15 years old. He worked as the head bartender at Coldroom, which made a name for itself by serving up some of Montreal’s most innovative cocktails. When he’s not working behind the wood, you can find him representing Angel’s Envy, a Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey finished in port wine barrels, handcrafted in Louisville, Kentucky.
Bartender Katherine Boushel of Montreal’s Atwater Cocktail Club and Milky Way Cocktail Bar, has an impressive resume that includes competing on a global and national scale for industry competitions such as Marie Brizard Masters, Diageo World Class, Bombay’s Most Imaginative Bartender, and Speed Rack.
Founder of Little Bones Beverage and partner of Bar Raval, Prettyugly, and Harry’s Charbroiled, Robin has been a staple in Toronto’s bar scene for well over a decade. While Prettyugly and Harry’s have shuttered their doors (Harry’s now slings burgers from a food truck), Bar Raval is still one of the top restaurants in the city, where you can find small plates to share and a variety of cocktails, beer, wine, and fortifieds.
Shane is a Halifax-based bartender who represents Canada at many international competitions and events. As a bartender with 10 years of experience, Shane now works as a brand ambassador for Nova Scotia Spirit Co. While bars, pubs, and restaurants were closed amid the pandemic, instead of shaking cocktails on Agricola or Barrington Street, Shane mixed drinks from home, over the internet, in support of a good cause: Feed Nova Scotia.