Eight Minutes With Micky Valens, A Natural Talent Toiling At Wildebeest

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We often hear the same names of Vancouver bartenders in local media. We follow their exploits in cocktail competitions and look forward to trying whatever it is that they might come up with next, but we seldom consider who toils alongside them. There’s a growing pool of young, talented barkeeps in Vancouver, and their time is now. This series of short interviews looks to introduce our readers to this new breed.

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Micky isn’t one of those “mixologist” types. While the guy definitely makes a fine cocktail, I dig him most of all for his innate hospitality, sense of humour, and humility. You can’t train those things, which is something a lot of bartenders forget to their detriment. Few can play the crowd like Micky, and his speed and skills are up there with the best. That he has only been working the bar for three years blows my mind. Meet…

micky

Current Bar – Wildebeest & Hello Goodbye | Formerly – The Diamond
Years in the Game – 3 | Career Highlights – CPBA Cup and Barate Kid finalist

First bartending job? Working for Matt Van Dinther at a cocktail bar in Yaletown called The Distillery Bar. Cocktails were the first thing I ever learned.

The moment that it went from a part time “gig” to a career? Once I got the chance to man the bar at The Diamond. After heading the bar program at The Distillery Bar, I realized that this was a career path that called out for me.

Advice for other newcomers? Don’t take yourself too seriously. Take criticism with grace, but stick to your guns. Always be yourself, and don’t forget,that first and foremost you are here to give people a great time in all aspects.

Favourite three bartenders you’ve worked with? Hard to pick just three. Matt Van Dinther (Nomad, formerly of The Diamond); Jordan Jacobs (Hello Goodbye, formerly of The Distillery Bar); Riley Moynahan (The Distillery Bar). Honourable mentions: Chris Enns (The Diamond); Adam Domet (Supermarine); Connor Leduc (The Portside).

Favourite three bartenders you’d like to work with? Navin Toor (The Keefer Bar); Robyn Gray (Prohibition); Shaun Layton (Juniper).

Dive bar you love, and beer you’re drinking when there? A tie between The Warehouse (Shock Top) and
The Portside (whatever Avi feels like pouring me).

If you could stage at any bar in the world? Employees Only . Duh!

A trend that should have been 86’d a long tie ago? The Vodka Water. Seriously?

Best skill outside of work? Mental math.

Daiquiri or Margarita? Gotta go with a good Margarita. On the rocks. Half rim.

Good service or speedy drinks? Speedy (but quality) drinks – putting on a show makes up for the lack of conversation. A drink in one’s hand solves all problems.

Favourite Vancouver neighbourhood? The West End. It’s like a wonderful escape from the debauchery of Gastown.

Jigger or free pour? Free pour.

Favourite local restaurant? Aside from the one I work at, I would have to say Mamie Taylor’s in Chinatown.

Mixologist or Bartender? Bartender, please.

Late night poutine or pizza? Poutine. Pizza can get pretty gnarly.

Twitter or Instagram? Instagram. One pic is worth a thousand tweets. [@mickyvalens]

Good customer who tips bad, or douchebag who tips huge? Douchebag who tips huge. Winning over douchebag customers is a valuable skill. Why not get paid in excess while learning it?

Tequila or Mezcal? Mezcal. Yum.

Post-work drink – what is it, where is it, and who’s making it? Anything with ginger at The Diamond, made by Emmett Groves.

Two others of the new breed who are deserving of attention? Gian Carlo of The Diamond and Drew McGuire of Wildebeest.

Make us a drink? The Tijuana…

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45 ml reposado tequila
15 ml Cocchi Americano
10 ml Bittermens Citron Sauvage
5 ml vanilla syrup
1 solid dash Fee Brothers rhubarb bitters

Stir in a mixing glass over ice, strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with a grapefruit twist

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