27 Feb Bartender: Kevin Brownlee
Here’s our recent interview with the inimitable – Kevin Brownlee. Brownlee is the award-winning bartender behind Vancouver’s AnnaLena cocktail program. We had a nice chat about all things bitters, whisky, travel and random allergies. Check it out:
BS – How long have you been Bartending?
KB – Ten casual years during my time working in public education; and now, full time, for three years professionally.
BS – Where are you currently working?
KB – AnnaLena
BS – When did you have alcohol for the first time?
KB – Labatt’s 50 in the back yard, when I was five, while my father was working in the yard.
BS – On a desert island, what are your must-have spirited ingredients? Pick only 3.
KB – Sons of Vancouver Amaretto. Nikka 21 yo Taketsuru Pure Malt. Cocchi Barolo Chinato
BS – You’re walking the Green Mile – what’s your final meal and beverage pairing?
KB – A whole roast chicken and a pan scallop potatoes, with 2 L’s of a Taketsuru 21 Brainstorm.
BS – What is the most important rule you enforce in your bar?
KB – Ask for support when you need it.
BS – Favourite bar (anywhere) for a drink? Who’s making it?
KB – Little Red Door, in Paris. Keila Calignon.
BS – What movie best describes your dream bar?
KB – Spirited Away by Hayao Miyazaki
BS – One place in the world you would love to visit?
KB – Tokyo
BS – One non-cocktail book you’re in love with?
KB – Marvel’s Infinite Gauntlet
BS – How do you describe your bartending style in 3 words?
KB – Clean. Quick. Precise.
BS – Most unusual drink request?
KB – An oyster Manhattan.
BS – If you could be any Star Trek or Star Wars character, who would it be and why?
KB – The so very quick-witted and resourceful smuggler, Han Solo. I pay far too much duty at customs.
BS – What was your dream job when you were 10 years old?
KB – Professional wrestler.
BS – Free-pour or measured?
KB – Measured.
BS – If your shifts behind the bar had a theme song, what would it be?
KB – Beastie Boys Sure Shot.
BS – The best piece of advice to give a young bartender?
KB – Trust yourself and be open to suggestion, calculate your risks and recognize the reward.
BS – Greatest moment in the bartending industry?
KB – Getting the call from Chef Mikey Robbins his offer to manage the bar at AnnaLena – four hours after finding out that I didn’t make the Martin Miller global final. One thing leads to another.
BS – Favourite Bittered Sling flavour and why?
KB – Plum & Rootbeer – it adds layers of complexity that no other bitter on the market has; and I’m allergic to plums, so it’s my failsafe way of enjoying three things I truly enjoy.
BS – Your favourite cocktail to drink, and why? (provide recipe and picture, please include Bittered Sling Bitters)
KB – Vieux Carre – it’s a big boy (or girl) drink. It’s my one and only if I’m in for just one, because it’s got all the juice.
BS – Your favourite cocktail to drink, and why?
KB – Twist on a Vieux Carré – click here for the recipe