In a liquid version of “Fanning the Flames”, we have a chat with the Coast’s own Bar Star Violette Alaouze, owner and creative force behind Wild Spirits Bartending. You’ll be thirsty after this.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Vancouver and moved to Gibsons in 2007.
Wild Spirits was established in?
Currently behind the wood at?
I’m the Head Bartender at El Segundo in Sechelt.
What lead you to want to become a professional mixologist? Was it a drink you tasted that gave you one of those “A-haaaa” moments?
After many years of being a server and also being a barista I found the best of both worlds behind the bar. I loved the way I could express my creativity and was thankfully given the opportunity to explore that by my employers. 7 years ago I worked at a place that didn’t have a cocktail menu but had a full bar with tons of liquor. I saw the need for a cocktail menu and the owner said “go for it!”. I had never created my own cocktail before but we collaborated and it ended up being super successful. I didn’t decide then that I wanted to be a “mixologist” but that was the beginning of my cocktail experience and I’ve just continued on that momentum ever since.
Have you had any professional training in bartending or did you learn as you went along?
A bit of both! After serving and bartending for 15 years, a couple years ago I decided to take a commercial bartending course just to learn all the classics and proper techniques as no one had really ever shown me how to bartend before. Well, I got 99% in that course and realized I absolutely loved bartending and learning about spirits, beer and wine. Since then I have taken many courses, seminars and read a lot of books! My most recent accreditation is with the globally recognized Wine and Spirit Education Trust where I have just received my Level 2 award in Spirits.
Tell me what’s in your drinks cabinet at home?
A large, growing collection of bitters including some rare ones that are very special to me. Lots of locally made and imported craft spirits & liqueurs, my collection of tiki mugs, vintage glassware and bar tools.
If you could spend a couple of hours at any iconic bartender’s station, who’s it going to be and what would you hope to talk about?
That’s a tough question to answer as there are so many bartenders that I look up to and am so inspired by! I am truly an amateur when I compare myself to award winning, globally recognized bartenders like Kaitlyn Stewart, Jeff Savage and Lauren Mote. Not to mention the original masters Dale DeGroff, Jerry Thomas and Gary Regan…If I had the opportunity to sit at their bars (which I kind of do, Kaitlyn and Jeff currently bartend in Vancouver) I would ask them who inspires them? What sparks their creativity and what do they love the most about what they do? And, of course, what is their favourite drink? Or, even better—if you could be a cocktail, which one would you be? (I would be a spicy, smoky margarita).
What is the one drink every bartender worth their salt should know how to make?
If you don’t know how to make a well-balanced old fashioned or margarita…I will have little faith that any other drink you make will be good.
What’s your go-to drink for yourself at the end of service?
I love a good sour. Preferably with bourbon! Or a spirit forward drink like the El Segroni we make at El Segundo. It’s like a Negroni but instead of gin we use mezcal and aged tequila.
When I was younger (quite a bit), a “Pousse Cafe” was an obnoxious drink to order that would earn you daggers from the bartenders. What would you say is the drink you most despise getting requests for?
I honestly love making drinks so I really don’t despise any request. But if I had to choose my least favourite request…and I’m sure most bartenders would agree with me…it would probably be the Mojito. Alternately, I love making drinks that I’ve never made before! I had a couple sitting at the bar recently who spent the evening looking up and ordering various classic drinks and it was super fun.
I know you’re a fan of vinyl and music in general. Pair 3 of your drinks with accompanying tracks.
- Bergamot Old Fashioned- Kind Hearted Woman by Robert Johnson
- Watermelon Vanilla Mezcal Margarita- Attitude by Bad Brains
- Bourbon Spritz- Me and Bobby McGee by Janis Joplin
You’re going out on the town. What’s it gonna be?
-A typical “local”
It depends on my mood and what I feel like drinking…but most likely I would choose a cocktail lounge. But I do love a good dive bar. Especially if there’s pool or karaoke involved.
Do you hope to have your own drinking establishment at some point? What’s it going to look like?
Honestly, I don’t think so! I think ownership would distract me too much from what I truly love to do which is making drinks and connecting with customers face to face at the bar. But if I did it would definitely be like a speakeasy.
Last item; your logo is cool. Not a question, just a statement.
Topshelf Creative can take all the credit for that!
Wild Spirits Bartending
Gibsons, BC V0N 1V9 Canada