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Interview with Wildcraft Bar Chef Alex

April 14, 2016

Interview with Wildcraft Bar Chef Alex

Alex, the Bar Chef at Wildcraft, has been working diligently with the team to craft a selection of delicious summer cocktails for the W Bar! We are thrilled to have been a part of the process, giving you an exclusive interview with Alex and photographing his final tasting with the management team. The menu launched April 12th, 2016 and it can be seen here: wildcraft.ca/drinks

How did you come up with the cocktail recipes? Was there an inspiration or reoccurring theme for what has been created?

For me, creating cocktails is a long process. It starts months in advance, beginning with a little research and inspiration. My drink recipes can be inspired by anything: from the people I meet, to music I listen to, to the mood I'm in or things I see. I will make notes of all these inspirations and then organize them into seasonal flavours. I’ll then save them until it’s time to create a new menu. There are no reoccurring themes in what I craft, I believe new inspirations and creativity keeps everything fresh.

Can you explain the process of creating the new menu?

When it comes time to create a new menu, everything starts with a good brainstorm session. I first approach the people I work with as they know our guests and what they like. In doing this, I want to ensure we are providing the best menu possible for them! Afterwards, I get together with Andres and Kevin, the other bartenders at the W Bar, and begin to experiment with what we think would make the best menu for the season. Since this menu is made for the summer, we wanted to use a lot of fresh, bright and fun flavours that would be attractive and exciting for our guests!

After every step, we get feedback from all the team members, managers and chefs. At Wildcraft, we craft everything with head, heart & hand, and I believe that having them constantly taste and give their own feedback allows our menu to be the best it can be. Following a few rounds of editing, a smaller list is created and ready for a formal tasting with the management team. After the final approval, we send it off to the printers and order in everything we need.

FALL OF THE FIZZ (Acai Vodka, Soho Liqueur, Blueberry Vodka, lime juice, strawberry + cucumber, simple syrup, soda, frozen berries, candy rim)

Where do you go to research the cocktails?

I’ve been very lucky to expand my personal knowledge through classes about wine and spirits. Books have also always been a big part of my research . I spend a large portion of my downtime reading books on bartending, wine and spirits. Everything I do, I do to inspire a new recipe or drink concept–it’s what I love.

BITTER SWEET SYMPHONY (Amaretto, lemon juice, lemon + coriander, simple syrup, Cabernet Merlot, lemon zest)

What fresh ingredients have you used in crafting the cocktails?

As far as fresh ingredients go, I'm very excited. The cocktail list will showcase a lot of fresh fruit! One flavour I'm thrilled to have on the menu is the blood orange. I feel it gives a nice sharp flavour of orange and adds a great colour to any drink it’s added to.

BLOOD ORANGE MARGARITA (Tequila, Triple Sec, blood orange, lime juice, agave syrup, slice of blood orange)

What was your favourite drink to create?

My personal favourites have to be the Classics. I believe they have helped pave the way for the recent cocktail renaissance happening in popular culture and shouldn't be overlooked. That being said, I wanted to pay homage to them on the new menu, we couldn’t help but get a little wild and crafty by adding our own twists!

Which drink was made to impress?

The new cocktails that I think are going impress people are Patricia’s Tonic and When in Rome. These two not only taste awesome but look incredibly beautiful.

Patrica’s Tonic was inspired by one of our guests. One night a really sweet lady came in and couldn't decide on what drink to order. Kevin, being the charmer he is, saw the opportunity to do something special for her. After making this great cocktail that she loved, they decided to name it after her and we put it on the list. So, when you take a sip be sure to thank her and Kevin of course!

PATRICIA’S TONIC (Beefeater Gin, Elderflower Liqueur, lime juice, cucumber slices, basil leaves, tonic, cucumber ribbon)

Do you see any trends happening in the cocktail scene?

We have a lot of passionate people at Wildcraft and a big focus for us has been keeping a curated selection of spirits in-house. Whiskey’s and gins have been getting a lot of hype lately, but the next big thing I see coming down the pipeline is Italian bitter spirits. We strive to be at the forefront of the cocktail scene and are crazy about cocktail crafting, which makes us one of the leaders in the area to help push that culture in our community forward.

What is "God's gift" to cocktails?

I feel God's gift to cocktails is expression. I always love to see how people show who they are through a drink.

(This cocktail did not make the final cut but it's still a beauty)

THE PERFECT STORM (Kraken Rum, lime juice, lime bitters, cucumber, ginger beer, lime wheel)


Contributors: Alex Zizzo, Evin Lachance, Julie Glasgow & Cindy Perri

Photographer: Evin Lachance

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