Celebrated Bartender Becomes First Woman to Claim Prestigious Title and
Opportunity to Represent Canada in Global Finals in Cape Town, South Africa
It’s been a banner year for Lauren Mote, as the Bittered Sling Bitters co-proprietor and UVA Wine & Cocktail Bar manager was just crowned the 2015 Canadian Bartender of the Year in Canada’s biggest and most celebrated bartending competition, Diageo World Class Canada.
Hot on the heels of her Bartender of the Year award at the Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards in April 2015, Mote becomes the first woman to win the coveted Diageo World Class Canada Bartender of the Year title, and only the second woman to compete at the national level (alongside her close friend and peer, Danielle Tatarin, of Vancouver’s The Keefer Bar).
Held June 22 to 24, 2015, the nationwide Diageo World Class competition welcomed 10 of Canada’s top bartenders to Chicago, IL to compete in seven gruelling challenges over three days. Testing their knowledge, skill, speed and showmanship behind the bar was a panel of 12 influential bartending and spirits experts: Charles Joly, Dale DeGroff, David Nepove, Dennis Tamse, Jacques Bezuidenhout, Jeff Bell, Jim Meehan, Julie Reiner, Ricky Gomez, Steve Olson, Tony Abou-Ganim, and last year’s Canadian champion, Grant Sceney, of Vancouver’s Fairmont Pacific Rim.
The competition kicked off on day one with the “Ode to the Windy City” challenge, where Mote developed a super hero pop-up book featuring hospitality workers as the heroes of their community with the host city, Chicago, as the backdrop.
On day two, the finalists competed in two challenges, “Sensorium” and “The Tasting Menu,” which paired cocktails and food, as well as a written exam and blind taste test. Mote cleverly won the Sensorium challenge with an elaborate sensory experience of her whisky-based cocktail, “Loup-Garou” (“werewolf” in French), set to a live trio of French hornists playing Sergei Prokofiev’s iconic Peter and the Wolf.
On the last day of the competition, the “Local Goes Global – Ketel One Market Basket Challenge” saw Mote make two cocktails: “Equinox” (lemon balm-infused Ketel One Vodka, Antica Formula Carpano Vermouth, black garlic-honey cordial) and “Fleur-de-Lis” (Ketel One Citron Vodka, spearmint-infused Cocchi Americano, black pepper-rhubarb shrub, rhubarb-ginger preserves, carbonated water). In the “Cocktails Against the Clock” speed round, Mote’s storytelling continued when she made six cocktails in eight minutes, all centered around the Soo Line, an underground system of tunnels connecting Moose Jaw, SK and Chicago, IL during the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway.
Said judge Abou-Ganim of Mote’s performance: “She was simply amazing — she owned it! It was something to behold.”
Mote’s road to Chicago began in May, when she presented her cocktails “Kid Video” and “Au Lieu de Ski” at the British Columbia regional finals, held at Vancouver’s Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar. As the 2015 Canadian champion, Mote will travel with Sceney to Cape Town, South Africa for the Diageo World Class Global Finals from Aug. 28 to Sept. 5, 2015 where she will not only represent Canada against the world’s best bartenders from an unprecedented 57 countries, but female bartenders everywhere.
“I cannot begin to express how amazing this feels,” says Mote, who just returned from Montreal and Toronto where she hosted a series of educational cocktail seminars, and will soon travel to New Orleans for Tales of the Cocktail® 2015. “To simply compete amongst my incredibly talented friends and colleagues was an honour, but to win is an absolute privilege.”