We often hear the same names of bartenders and their exploits in media features, press releases, and cocktail competitions. But there’s a growing pool of young, talented barkeeps in Vancouver, and their time is now. This series of interviews looks to introduce our readers to this new breed.
We continue with Max Borrowman, who is one of the most humble, inviting, and accommodating guys you’ll ever find behind the stick. He recently left his coveted bartending job at the Fairmont Pacific Rim to join the opening team at Torafuku as Bar Manager (anytime a bartender leaves a busy, well-compensating, steady job and risks everything to further their career – by knowledge and confidence – they have my respect). Max has done a great job in executing a drinks menu that matches the new Main Street restaurant’s playful, innovative instincts.
First bartending job? At Earls in Kelowna. Lots of slushy drinks and partying.
The moment that it went from a part-time gig to a career? At the Fairmont Pacific Rim, where the cocktail program has been fantastic since its inception. I realized there was a lot more to bartending than I originally thought working at Earls.
Mixologist or Bartender? “Do you do the mixology here?” Bartender!
What you like best about your new gig? The freedom to be creative and learn from many, many mistakes.
Favourite three bartenders you have worked with? Kent Rock (blondie at the Pac Rim), Todd Harrison (good looking, slightly older chap at the Pac Rim), and Grant Sceney (he’s kind of a big deal).
Favourite three bartenders you’d like to work with? Gez McAlpine at The Keefer (to learn a thing or two); “H” at Notturno (vast knowledge of all things cocktail), and Cooper Tardival at Hawksworth (for his poise and elegance).
Favourite Vancouver restaurant? Chambar.
Dive bar you love, and beer you’re drinking? Butcher and Bullock, Driftwood Farmhand Saison.
Funniest thing that’s happened when on the bar? So many memories. One that stands out was actually at my first bartending job at Earls. It was my last day and I was taking the empties outside to the recycling and a few of the chefs cornered me in the back alley. I thought I was going to get beat up for a second so I tried to run but they caught me and proceeded to hurl me into Lake Okanagan in all my clothes. That was pretty hilarious.
Darts or pool? Pool. The drunker I get, the better I become.
A trend that should have been 86’d a long time ago? Fernet Branca and moustaches. Both are vile.
Best skill outside work? I’m a pretty good skier. But I also play some decent golf from time to time.
Metal or glass cocktail shaker? Metal. I used to break the glass ones a lot.
Favourite Vancouver neighbourhood? Kits. Beach, good restaurants, and quiet when you need it to be.
Jigger or free pour? Jigger.
Best cocktail city in the world? Of the ones that I’ve been to I would say London. I was lucky enough to get a bit of a drinking tour through London with Tim Stones (Global Beefeater Ambassador) a few years ago. That was really cool.
Hot wings or Nachos? Nachos if they’re from Tacofino. If not, then wings win every time.
Twitter or Instagram? Instagram for sure.
Good customer who tips bad, or douchebag who tips huge? Money talks!
Post-work drink. What and where is? A shot of Zacapa served with a side of Netflix.
Max is currently in Toronto, having just repped BC at the Beefeater Canadian Cocktail Championship along with fellow New Breed-er Amber Bruce (the competition was won by Evelyn Chick of The Harbord Room in Toronto). Here’s the cocktail that helped him advance through the local heat.
1.75 oz Beefeater London Dry gin
0.5 oz strawberry and butter-infused Beefeater 24
0.5 oz Earl Grey infused Amaro montenegro
0.5 oz Maidenni Dry vermouth
1 drop 5 spice tincture
Stir ingredients with ice, serve over a tennis ball-like ice sphere. Garnish w/ strawberry, cinnamon, orange twist.