In 2012, Mote and Chovancek launched Bittered Sling — a retail line of high-quality, cocktail bitters and culinary extracts using exceptional ingredients that provides the palate, plate and potion with a powerful and exciting fusion of flavours — and quickly built a reputation in the international cocktail and culinary community.
Originally marketed as a medicinal tonic, bitters are a concentration of select natural herbs, fruits and spices now used primarily as a flavouring agent for cocktail and culinary creations ranging from savoury to sweet. A common and indispensable tool of any bartender, bitters have increased in popularity thanks to the recent renaissance of classic cocktails.
The name Bittered Sling derives from the May 13, 1806 edition of The Balance, and Columbian Repository (Hudson, NY) that defines a cocktail as“A stimulating liquor composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water and bitters. It is vulgarly called a bittered sling and is supposed to be an excellent electioneering potion inasmuch as it renders the heart stout and bold, at the same time that it fuddles the head.” By the dash or the drop, each creation offers an intricate range of complex flavours that perfectly accentuates food, spirits and even sparkling water.
Since its inception, Bittered Sling has garnered local and international acclaim with aromatic labels such as Cascade Celery, Malagasy Chocolate and Kensington Dry Bitters — all of which were bestowed with gold medals at the Beverage Testing Institute’s 2014 International Review of Spirits. In 2013, the company was singled out as Producer/Supplier of the Year at the 24th annual Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards. Since 2011, both Chovancek and Mote have also both been event partners and keynote speakers with Tales of the Cocktail, the world’s premier cocktail festival, in New Orleans, Vancouver and Argentina.
Apart from their collaboration in Bittered Sling, Chovancek is the Corporate Consultant at Cook Culture, while Mote is Bar & Beverage Consultant at the Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver.
Bittered Sling strongly believes in setting a new standard in customer service, and remains committed to providing quality, respect and integrity in each ingredient it sources, and every product it creates.
Award-winning bar personality Lauren Mote wears many hats, but she’s perhaps best known as the co-proprietor of Bittered Sling — a wildly successful line of high-quality, small-batch cocktail and culinary bitters— and most recently the bar manager of the downtown Vancouver hotspot UVA Wine & Cocktail Bar and the new Bar & Beverage Consultant for the Four Seasons Hotel (Vancouver & Whistler, BC locations). With more than 16 years of expertise in the food and beverage industry both in Toronto and on the West Coast, Mote has been a familiar and well-respected personality behind the bar at such renowned establishments as Le Sélect Bistro, Lumière, Goldfish Pacific Kitchen, Hawksworth Catering, Chow Restaurant and the Refinery.
Since she first started experimenting with and concocting bitters in 2008, Mote has developed and perfected more than 240 contemporary cocktail recipes featuring homemade and artisanal products, “tasting note” deconstruction and near-encyclopedic knowledge of spirits alchemy. It was in 2012 that Mote and partner Jonathan Chovancek pooled and poured their immeasurable talents into Bittered Sling.
Named the 2015 ‘Bartender of the Year’ by both the Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards and Diageo World Class Canada, Mote is a well-respected speaker, educator, mentor and industry advocate, whose reach extends well beyond the bar. She continues to shape the way enthusiasts both in Vancouver and around the globe view and consume cocktails through her avant-garde mixology, innovative training and consulting programs and mentorship of apprentice bartenders. Mote has dedicated herself to the development of novice bar talent through both the Cocktail Kitchen Series and Bittered Sling Bistro — Vancouver’s largest and longest-running series of cocktail competitions — as well as her past role as Associate Director of the Canadian Professional Bartenders Association (CPBA). Recently, some of Mote’s contemporary creations have landed with credit on bar programs in Munich, Toronto, Vancouver and Melbourne. Mote has also traveled through several cities and countries, teaching seminars and workshops, covering a wide variety of scientific and theoretical subjects pertaining to our industry, including cocktail history, women in our industry, bitters and liqueurs, distillation, viticulture and terroir.
Mote is also an in demand hospitality consultant and in the past 2 years has helped revamp and redesign bar programs at The Nash Restaurant & Off Cut Bar in Calgary, Vancouver’s Café Medina and Burdock & Co., and most recently collaborating with YEW seafood + bar in the Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver to launch the Oceans Program, an innovative cocktail menu that draws inspiration from the world’s oceans.
Since 2011, Mote has been an event partner and keynote speaker with Tales of the Cocktail, the world’s premier cocktail festival, in New Orleans, Vancouver and Argentina and has planned and executed Bittered Sling on the Road events in Toronto, Mexico, New Orleans and Buenos Aires. She is one of 40 international spirits professionals currently serving on the Tales of the Cocktail Seminar Selection Committee, is an International Judge for their Spirited Awards, and is one of only three judges for Top Shelf 20, a community of elite bartenders across the country. In 2014, Mote was a keynote speaker at former Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan’s Public Salon, Terroir Symposium’s 10-year anniversary festival in Toronto, and has developed and executed bartender immersion programs in Paris and Cognac. Mote is also serving as the Canadian Ambassador for Diageo World Class, and will be receiving an induction into the Dames Hall of Fame in 2016 at Tales of the Cocktail, as well as a nomination for “Best Bar Mentor” at the 10th Annual Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards this July in New Orleans, LA.
However, his collaboration with life and business partner Lauren Mote in Bittered Sling might be his most inspired creation to date.
It was in 2010 that Chovancek launched Bittered Sling with Mote, and the duo has since built a reputation for the boutique bitters company both in Vancouver and far afield as a purveyor of top-shelf cocktail and culinary creations.
Chovancek, who was most recently the Executive Chef at beloved Vancouver institution Café Medina, began his West Coast kitchen odyssey with stops at Vancouver Island’s The Aerie Resort, Sooke Harbour House and Zambri’s before spending five years as Chef de Cuisine at Culinary Capers in Vancouver.
Prior to his collaboration with Mote, Chovancek proved his mettle as a chef of Olympic proportions, leading culinary teams to the 2006 and 2008 Winter and Summer Games in Torino and Beijing, respectively, where he garnered rave reviews from a discriminating international clientele. His skills again made the podium when Vancouver played host to the 2010 Winter Olympics, when Chovancek served close to 60,000 attendees at an array of different events during the two-week celebration. That same year he claimed top prize for his food- and wine-pairing skills at the Vancouver International Wine Festival Vintner’s Brunch.
An avowed champion of the Slow Food movement, healthy eating and inspirational coaching and mentorship, Chovancek was the chef/host of CBC TV’s groundbreaking documentary Village on a Diet, which was watched by more than a million people coast to coast in 2011. He has contributed to a number of publications including the Ocean Wise Cookbook, Taste and Wallpaper magazines, and CBC’s Live Right Now national campaign for healthy lifestyles, as well as the upcoming Soup Sisters Cookbook. Chovancek has also been a featured guest on CTV’s Morning Live, CityTV’s Breakfast Television, Shaw TV’s Urban Rush, CBC’s Steven & Chris Show and the O Network’s Grocery Bags.
An in-demand and respected speaker and instructor, Chovancek was the Vice President of the Chef’s Table Society of British Columbia from 2013 – 2015. He was a judge at the Vancouver International Wine Festival’s Vintner’s Brunch (2014 – 2016), Food Pro West’s Product of the Year Awards (2014), and several regional cocktail competitions. Earlier this year, Chovancek partnered with Terroir Symposium (Toronto) as a keynote speaker and Grand Marnier (France) as a development partner for the “Le Grand Sling” program, benefiting Canadian bartenders. Chovancek’s current consulting projects include the role of Chef/Instructor for Cook Culture.