06 Jan Bartender: Chantelle Gabino
Here’s our recent interview with the Bombay Most Imaginative Bartender 2016 Canadian Champ – Chantelle Gabino. We had a nice chat while sitting in the snow at Parts & Labour, the West End Toronto restaurant and bar, to talk about all things bitters, managing staff and travel. Check it out:
BS – How long have you been Bartending?
CG – I’ve been slinging drinks for 8 years, but I’ve been mixing cocktails – seriously – for about 5 years.
BS – Where are you currently working?
CG – I am currently the GM at Parts & Labour in Parkdale, Toronto, and I also run the beverage programs for The Social Group, which consists of Parts & Labour, Dog & Bear and our “coming soon” Anne Boleyn.
BS – When did you have alcohol for the first time?
CG – I remember the first time I had a sip of a cooler that my mother was nursing at a family function when I was 12. The first time I got drunk, my mother decided it was hilarious to get me wasted at my family 16th birthday party. I was absolutely ecstatic about it at first, until I witnessed what a hangover was the next day.
BS – On a desert island, what are your must-have spirited ingredients? Pick only 3.
CG – The most important thing I would ever bring with me on a desert island is 1) an aromatic bitter (whether or not I have a bottle of booze at my disposal). I often travel with a bottle of bitters, or 3 in my bag. It’s the ultimate cure for an upset stomach. 2) I’m a sucker for all fortified wine but if I had to choose, Lustau East India Solera Sherry, and 3) Absinthe.
BS – You’re walking the Green Mile – what’s your finale meal and beverage pairing?
CG – A massive Surf and Turf combo, full Lobster, with a bottle of Rosé (all day).
BS – What is the most important rule you enforce in your bar?
CG – Communicate – talk to each other about all details important to the fluidity of service. You can never over communicate with your team, whether it’s the kitchen or the front, both departments keep things in order, and ensure that the guest has the best experience possible. Communication between your staff and the guest is of the utmost importance as well.
BS – What’s your favourite bar (anywhere) for a drink? Who’s making it?
CG – Dandelyan or White Lyan in London. Those folks are on some next level bartending. Everything from the menu creation to the service. *A bow to staff is warranted.
BS – What movie best describes your dream bar?
CG – Wow, that’s a hard question. The Secret Garden meets Casablanca.
BS – One place in the world you would love to visit?
CG – Right now it is South-East Asian. I’ve never been and I have a serious love affair with noodles. #eatnoodlesgetmoney
BS – One non-cocktail book you’re in love with?
CG – Like Water for Chocolate. I love magic realism and I love food.
BS – How do you describe your bartending style in 3 words?
CG – Forever constantly evolving.
BS – Most unusual drink request?
CG – A piña colada with diet coke in it.
BS – If you could be any Star Trek or Star Wars character, who would it be and why?
CG – Star Wars: I want an Ewok to be my best friend, but I would probably choose to be Rey.
BS – What was your dream job when you were 10 years old?
CG – It was a mix between a flight attendant so I could travel the world or a stock broker because I heard they had a lot of fun making money, quick.
BS – Free-pour or measured?
CG – Measured.
BS – If your shifts behind the bar had a theme song, what would it be?
CG – Electric Relaxation – Tribe Called Quest
BS – The best piece of advice to give a young bartender?
CG – Never stop putting yourself in situations to learn more about yourself and your style, both as a person and as a bartender.
BS – Greatest moment in the bartending industry?
CG – I recently won Canada’s Most Imaginative Bartender for Bombay Sapphire and in doing so I got to experience New Orleans for Tales of the Cocktail, as well as London for the first time. That amazing competition not only taught me a lot about myself as a bartender under pressure, but also opened my eyes to the upper echelon of bartenders and bars that exist around the world. In other words, it humbled the $#&! out of me. Canada has a lot of catching up to do but we’re getting there.
BS – Favourite Bittered Sling flavour and why?
CG – I use a lot of Kensington bitters in the bar. It is one of my favourite aromatic bitters that highlights as well as adds character to a lot of brown spirits. Its spicy, smoky and savoury which is exactly what I love to see in a cocktail for myself. It was the first bitter that caught my attention when I first discovered the Bittered Sling family back in 2012/13.
BS – Your favourite cocktail to drink, and why?
CG – The Dark Manhattan – click here for the recipe