Interview with Simon Kaulback

Simon Kaulback | Boneta | Vancouver

Simon was recently named 2011 Bartender of the Year in Vancouver.  He is the head Bartender and Manager of Boneta Restaurant in Gastown. I met up with Simon last week to talk ….

Would you consider yourself a Bartender or a Mixologist or both? And why?

Bartender – Mixology is an aspect of what I do, but bartending is more so a conversationalist, hosting, application technique.

Have you competed in any spirit competitions?

Over the past 10 years I have focused on brown spirits and these are the type of competitions that I have competed in.

What was your training like and how long have you been a leader in this industry?

Previously I worked in kitchens and I wanted to become a chef, I lived in London, UK where I began bartending. I fell in love with bartending and never looked back. After joining Boneta 3 years ago, I took on the bar and the creation of cocktails and the spirits program.

What drew you to beverages in particular?

My grandfather was a hotelier, my family was always interested in eating very good food, we drank wine and held lots of cocktail parties and dinners. From my upbringing beverages were always a part of my life.

What goes into creating a new cocktail? What inspires you?

I would say that I am a classic bartender – I take inspiration from the classics, simplicity, seasonal, what people are asking for. For the cocktail list, 3drinks should be approachable, 5 drinks should be sophisticated and then there should be 2-3 drinks that I drink, something that the adventurous and connoisseurs would order.

Where is your favourite drinking city?

London, England

What are your favourite restaurants to eat at around Vancouver other than where you work?

  • La Quercia
  • Miko Sushi
  • Guu on Thurlow

What are some current trends you’ve seen in the cocktail market?

Return to the classics, molecular aspect were some people are deconstructing aspects. Broadening the spirit base with other liquors such as Sherry.

Who are you’re the people that you respect?

My grandfather was the most captivating host and storyteller, Mark Brand, Neil Ingram and Ron Oliver.

What are some of the trends that you’ve been seeing in Vancouver specifically?

Shift away from fine dining, people are more educated and are drinking better.

If you weren’t a bartender what would you be doing?

Meteorology and study weather patterns or I would be in Architecture.

What advice would you give to someone who is yearning to become a bartender?

Look 10 years down the road, you need to look at this as a profession. You need to train, constantly learn, it is a school of hard knocks.

By: Richard Wolak