Lauren Mote: “I have always found the bar manager role to be the most challenging (and also the most gratifying)”
She’s a mixologist; a sommelier; an architect of potions, tonics and elixirs; an accomplished emcee, writer, spirit and cocktail judge; an international spirits diplomat and accredited instructor; award-winning bartender Lauren Mote wears many hats, but she’s perhaps best known as the DIAGEO Reserve & World Class Global Cocktailian, and the co-founder of Bittered Sling Bitters – an internationally successful portfolio of award-winning cocktail bitters and culinary extracts. Named the 2015 Bartender of the Year by both the Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards and DIAGEO World Class Canada, Lauren is a well-respected speaker, educator, mentor and industry advocate, whose reach extends well beyond the bar. We asked Lauren a few questions and found out what a Global Cocktailian role seems to be.
You are the World Class Global Cocktalian. What does that position mean?
In my role as Global Cocktailian, I am currently travelling around the global World Class countries, educating bartenders at all levels, creating events and seminars for our customers and guests, and judging the local stages of the competition. So far, I have been all over South East Asia and South America and I have been blown away by the incredible diversity of flavours, stories, personalities and emotions. I love working with and mentoring up-and-coming bartenders and having an international platform to champion my three passion points; sustainability, diversity and innovation within the drinks industry.
You are also a writer, bar manager, cocktail judge, speaker. What role is your favorite?
I love having the ability to change a mood, fix a problem, enhance a great moment, and inspire others – my profession is incredibly impactful, whether I’m making a single cocktail for an excited guest, taking an ambassador for coffee to discuss their goals, or teaching a whisky-lover how to make their own “flawless” Old Fashioned at home. That’s real time gratification. I would say that each role I’ve had, blends seamlessly into characteristics of my role as Global Cocktailian, making it difficult to choose a favorite!
And which one is the most challenging?
I have always found the bar manager role to be the most challenging (and also the most gratifying) – it’s one part business, one part hospitality, and one part creativity. We have many things to consider when building a bar and bar program – the bar’s concept, the demographic, the ideal cocktail vs. other beverage offering split, the relationships you have with certain suppliers, price point and food concept – all of these factors come into play to create a cohesive, concise and exciting program. It all makes sense when it comes together but it is a difficult challenge, and one that takes time and attention to develop perfectly.
What do you feel by judging the cocktail contests? When your vote can change someone’s life.
The World Class competition measures every aspect of a bartender’s abilities, from presentation and hospitality to creativity, time management and preparation. It is a great honor for me, as someone who has participated as a “contestant” to be able to provide my perspective, feedback and objective opinion. The approach for World Class is quite clear: a formula for bartenders that includes a fail-safe approach to creating not only the right serve, but the right serve for the right circumstance. We have to consider more than just creating a cocktail, it’s about the experience, from the name and story, to the purpose of the cocktail (paired with food, stand-alone reception cocktail, classic cocktail, low proof, etc…) and all the flourishes that go with this to make it a “world class experience”.
What was the most unusual cocktail you ever tried?
I have had some interesting cocktails in South East Asia, including salmon roe/fish eggs, stinky tofu and some other odd flavour pairings – some worked, and some didn’t. As a judge, it’s also my duty to refuse cocktails with dangerous/poisonous ingredients and/or bad technique that could hurt someone, to ensure proper care and considerations are made for guest consumption in their bars. We use competitions as a method to teach and educate, as well as judge winning combinations.
What is the funniest cocktail name you ever heard/invented yourself?
I love the play on words – especially when the cocktail can somehow connect to the concept or name of the cocktail. Some odd ones that I have developed are Peater Rabbit, the Amphibious, LabRats and Hug-A-Wildcat. I also love cocktails named for 80s pop culture references and I’ve seen everything from songs like Sussudio to cartoon characters like Cobra Commander (GI Joe). There’s so much you can do with a name – it’s almost as important as the cocktail itself!
By Kateryna Mykhailenko