Drambuie Presents: Extraordinary Cocktail Artists
Part 4 of 4
MIKE WEBSTER, owner of Barman Willie, a small cocktail consultancy and catering company, has worked at some of Toronto’s top establishments, including the Drake Hotel, Bestellen and Weslodge.
What do you love most about bartending?
I love it when I can change someone’s perspective. It takes a very gentle and confident approach to massage somebody’s idea of what makes a great drink. But it’s great to watch their face light up when you get it right.
Tom Cruise or Sam Malone?
Sam Malone, because of his candour and bar-side manner. He just rolls with everything that happens. He’s everything a perfect bartender should be.
The most memorable thing you’ve ever seen at a bar?
I was making drinks for this guy all night and he looked a little rough, so I was doubtful that he could pay. At the end of the night, I found him half-way out the bathroom window – but it didn’t go anywhere. But next, this guy who’d been at the bar maybe half an hour comes into the bathroom, thinks it’s a funny sight and offers to pay the rather hefty tab. If it wasn’t for him, my night would have been ruined.
The most extraordinary thing you’ve ever done?
About four years ago, I went to Costa Rica to go surfing. I paddled out for about three hours without going anywhere. I was getting really tired when finally a wave comes along and I decide I’m going to try to wave it no matter what. When it gets close, I realize it’s about 25 feet. I surfed it for about four seconds and then crashed. The guy who came to help me back to shore shook his head at me and asked where I was from. When I told him I was Canadian, he said, “Of course you are.”
The best bar you’ve ever been to?
I had the greatest time at a bar called Delilah’s in Chicago. There were about 150 whiskies behind the bar and I didn’t have to say anything and before I knew it I had seven glasses in front of me. The bartender was just saying “try this, try this” and it was like splash, splash, splash.
His extraordinary Drambuie cocktail is the Dramsel in Distress: 1.5 oz Drambuie, 1 oz Bulleit Rye, 1/2 oz Barolo Chinato, a barspoon of Fernet Branca, 3 dashes of
Bob’s ginger bitters and 5 drops walnut bitters. Stir over ice and strain into a coupe glass.
A Taste of the Extraordinary. Discover the unique blend of aged scotch whisky, spices and heather honey.
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Next page: Meet Robin Kaufman of the Toronto Institute of Bartending