Name: Jonathan Strokowski Ross
Venue: Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac
City: Quebec City
1. Where are you from?
Born on the border of the Atlantic Ocean, in a small town named Chandler.
Raised and living in Quebec City for the past 25 years.
2. How long have you been a bartender and how did you get into bartending?
I am bartending at the hotel, since 2010.
I started in a restaurant as a busboy at 19 years old and fell in love with the industry. Back then, the bartender was cool and we became friends. When he left, I asked the boss to take his place.
3. Where/when was your first gig? How many bartending jobs have you had?
I have been promoted from busboy to bartender in a small Italian restaurant, at 20.
I quitted at 21 for a waiter job in a ‘sports’ restaurant.
I have been hired at Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac, at 22.
4. How did you get involved with your venue?
I just quitted a ‘sports’ restaurant and there was that offer on the web. Confidential. I was intrigued, and it was a perfect fit with my school schedule. Once I knew I got an interview, I googled the address and realized it was that legendary hotel. I was super excited and accepted a busboy job just to get in; knowing that I would do my time and climb the ladder to the bar.
5. What kind of cocktails do you serve at your bar/restaurant? What cocktails are your favorites?
There are actually 2 bars; one is classic cocktails-oriented – the other is creative-mixology oriented.
What cocktails are my favorites? That’s a question guests always ask when they don’t know what they want! My answer is that I like them all. Depending on the mood, the situation or the season, I will like something more than another. But I can say that I enjoy making classics a guest as never tasted before, or being challenged to make them drink a spirit they dislike.
6. What turns you on about bartending, what are the new trends that are exciting you?
I love to personalize each guest’s experience who sits in front of me. The right cocktail at the right time, for the situation. Most of the people who sits at the bar want to relax and forget about their jobs or whatever sources of stress they have. I like to know that they are happy and enjoying their time. It is the coolest job in the world, right?
I am thrilled to see more and more links between the cocktail world and the cuisine world. Techniques that are used in the kitchen are applied more frequently behind the bar. And the merge of cocktail/spirits/liqueurs pairings with food are adds to the classic wines and beers options.
7. What’s your cocktail-making style? What are some of your favorite cocktails to make?
Mmmh. I never asked myself that question before. Well, on a day-to-day basis, I like to get some specific keywords from my guests and go in whatever directions it leads me. Sometimes they discover a classic, other time it leads to a new creation.
In cocktail creations, I like to play with strong flavors.
Some of my favorite cocktails to make are obviously the ones I have created. Those I worked on to achieve balance and had passed the test of peers and time. It’s a real joy when someone is delighted by what you did.
8. Which spirit is sexiest to you? Why?
Damn. It depends on the mood. I like them all for different reasons. But I would say that Mezcal is complex and warming and exotic and … makes me think of Catherine Zeta-Jones and Antonio Banderas in the movie ‘The Legend of Zorro’.
9. What do you drink as a shot?
10. What are some of your favorite ingredients to work with?
11. Which bartenders have been inspirations for you?
I would say the generation of great local bartenders when I was barely aware of the cocktail world. I was inspired by some of the competitors like Louis Turmel and Marc-André Filion, at Quebec City’s Regional Finals in 2011; the presentation, and the energy, it was awesome.
Nader Chabaane, who took the mixology program at the hotel under his wing, three years ago, really sparked in me that passion for spirits knowledge and cocktails creation.
12. If you could work in any bar in the world for one night where would it be?
For just ONE night ?!…. I would go in a theme bar; like that Zombie bar in Seoul or Mr.Fogg’s Residence in London. Because I freakin’ love Halloween :p
13. Where do you head on your night off?
Restaurant with good wine, then a cocktail bar with good bartenders.
14. What’s your favorite cocktail to order at a bar?
Bartender’s creation, or an Old Fashioned.
15. Do you have a funny bar story to tell us?
It was funny if you were there 😉
16. What is the most ridiculous cocktail request you had?
Virgin Margarita with a salt rim?
17. What got you into MADE WITH LOVE and how do you feel about the National Finals?
I attended Quebec City’s Regional Finals three times before our bar had someone to compete. I helped my colleagues two times at the Regional Finals. The third time was mine.
I am totally stoked to be part of the National Finals. At the regionals, last June, being rewarded in front of friends, and industry peers was an ecstatic moment of my life. I want to recreate that moment.