Christina Veira has been working in hospitality long enough to make a difference beyond the bar. Engaging and engaged, she has been a voice for change, leading conversations about sexual harassment and the roles of women in the industry. In the past two years, she has facilitated the fundraising over $40k in cash and in-kind donations for local charities, most notably Nellie’s Women’s Shelter. In 2018, she helped coordinate Speed Rack Canada Season 3 and has her sights set on creating a foundation to bridge the hospitality industry with local charities in local, impactful and cost-effective ways.
While Christina might forget your name, she will not forget your cocktail. If you prefer beer, she will be happy to tell you about all the ones she has been collecting. Get comfortable; this conversation might last a while. You will find her bartending at The Drake One Fifty.
Get to know her better with this exclusive interview and don’t miss her workshop at the Toronto Cocktail Conference August 13-15!
Tell us about the first cocktail you ever created?
The first cocktail I created was terrible.
I was working on one of the party boats in the harbour in Toronto. It was a pretty good gig for a nineteen-year-old but we didn’t have any coolers (like Smirnoff Ice, Rev) and they were requested A LOT. I ended up making some concoction that was a mix of Malibu, peach schnapps, sprite and some other liqueur.
People loved it… it is a hangover in a glass.
What spirit do you most enjoy working with?
What is the one piece of advice you would give to a young bartender?
Never stop listening: to your guests, your co-workers, other people in the industry. Always be open to learning from people around you and taking cues.
What do you do to ensure that you have a good life-work balance?
I schedule my social time the same way I schedule work. Just like I wouldn’t try to flake out on a scheduled shift, I don’t try to flake out on a dinner with a friend or family engagements.
What’s your all-time favourite cocktail?
I love a 2:1 gin martini made with a richer dry vermouth, a drop of orange bitters, and a twist of lemon.
Where do you find inspiration when creating cocktails?
I like to take inspiration first from spice and dry goods stores, as strange as it sounds. Finding flavours that I want to use and figuring out how to harmonize them with local produce is always great. I’m also a huge fan of using shelf stable items: teas, jams, shrubs, sauces.
What cocktail book would you recommend to new bartenders?
Morgenthaler’s Bar Book.
What’s your most essential bar tool?
I love a great bar spoon but I’m partial to stirred cocktails.
If you could change anything in the hospitality industry, what would it be?
I would love to get rid of the cult of the martyr.
What do you most admire about the bartending profession?
The stamina to not only create beautiful guest experiences but to also commit to creating beautiful drinks, manage inventory, be on top of non-wasteful and innovative production methods. Its truly the bridge between FOH and BOH (and a revenue driver to boot!).
What three trends do you see shaping the cocktail world over the next year?
- Looking behind the bar. I think the biggest trend in the cocktail world is starting to see people look beyond their bar at the communities around them. There is more of an effort to make everything more sustainable, more environmentally friendly, more intersectional. Hopefully, this becomes more of an ethos of the trade and less of a “trend”
- Simplification. I think more and more, bartenders are starting to lean more into simpler, more replicable cocktails by being resourceful with ingredients, spirits, bitters and juices. Drinks that you can easily make in various markets, on almost any bar, will be the true modern classics.
- Wellness. Be it bartending fitness clubs to non-alcoholic cocktails to “healthful” drinks, I think integrated wellness throughout your bar programming is on the uptick.