Bartender | Juniper | Vancouver
Jose started off his career in the hospitality industry working as a dishwasher at Cactus Club. In 2011 he then became a Barback at Chambar where he held that position for a year. He joined L’Abattoir in 2012 and was a bartender for 2-1/2 years before moving on to Juniper in 2015 where he is now working as the Assistant Beverage Director and Bartender.
You can follow Jose on Twitter and Instagram @
How did you end up becoming a Bartender?
It’s kind of a long story… I grew up volunteering for a non-profit Hockey organization callled HEROS hockey. when I turned 18 the president of the program gave me some real life advice- He told me to work at a bar, travel the world, meet beautiful women (not in those words), and at 25 to get my shit together.
My hospitality career began at the age of 14 washing dishes for Cactus Club Cafe. Within months Chef Sean Holland, now owner operator at the Parlour in Yaletown, promoted me on the line. At 18 years old I may or may not have lied about my age, and worked my first gig as a bar back in Kitsilano at a bar on Cornwall. It was really my stint as bar support at Chambar that introduced me to the idea of pursuing a career in the restaurant industry. So with an interest to learn and grow I made the move to L’Abattoir. This restaurant and the crew of all stars at the time (Paul Grunberg, Shaun Layton, Romano Castillo, Robert Herman, Wild Bill Johnson) schooled me with a crash course into all aspects of service! No one on the corner had swagger like us! I’ve been hooked on the raw energy of working in a good room ever since!
What are some of the unique cocktails your customers have asked you to make?
Does a pickle back count? Haha.
I’m a big fan of the Hotel Georgia Cocktail. A lovely Gin sour with orgeat and nutmeg.
What goes into creating a new cocktail? What inspires you?
My Instagram feed, travelling, reading, and my fellow bartending community (not in that order) .
What is your philosophy on food and drinks?
I love unwinding by enjoying food and drink with great company, sharing this passion is the most rewarding part of my career! Our bar is the perfect balance between drinks, dinner and a show!
What are some of your favourite foods/dishes?
Tartare at Bao Bei, the brunch quiche at L’Abattoir, “dirty burger” at Campagnolo upstairs, Combo D at Sushi Itoga (formerly Sushi Mart)
Where do you get your inspiration to create your cocktails at Juniper?
The whole bar team has input in the development of the bar program- I’m so grateful to have a team with such diverse strengths and creativity. A main focus of the bar at Juniper is to showcase Gin, being widely regarded as the spirit of the pacific northwest, an ever-changing local tap beer and cider list, and a wonderfully curated wine program.
What type of drinks do you like personally?
Coffee (usually pour over)
Tea (when i’ve had too much coffee)
Beer and Cider (cheeky format)
Any new and interesting cocktail, for R&D.
What are the most unique ingredients you have used to create a cocktail?
I made a Sparkling wine cocktail with The Giffard Poire William pear puree, fresh lemon juice and pear brandy. Smashing that bottle was a very liberating experience!
What is your favourite cocktail personally?
An OG Manhattan will never fail. Good vermouth, good whiskey, good times. *hip hop airhorn*
On our list at Juniper, It’s the SL’s Negroni 2.0, all of my favourite things in a cocktail. SL stands for Shaun Layton- our fearless leader. 2.0 is just better than 1.0, I wont go into it, but just believe it. This take on a classic Negroni annihilates the original. Tanqueray 10, our house sweet vermouth, and 3 times of italian bitter liqueurs (Aperol, Campari, and Fernet Branca)
What is your favourite dish or dishes that you like to eat with a Gin based cocktail?
I usually enjoy my cocktails before dinner, but if i’m having a G&T or a Negroni during a meal it’s probably a casual time, so I’m down with crushing a whole Margherita for Nicli’s Happy Hour- C’mon! they’re only $6!
By: Richard Wolak