Name: Hakim Lebeau
MWL ‘s Edition: Montréal 2009
Prize won : There was only one prize on the first edition
Winning Cocktail’s Name : Is this bad if I forgot it… major fail, I probably drank too much of it!
1. What is your favorite memory about your participation at MWL?
Memory after making and drinking cocktails all night at a MWL event that is a tough question. I would say I guess the turnout. The cocktail culture was small and it was difficult to know how many people would be interested in this event. Most participants were delighted at the idea of it, a chance to promote our local “savoir-faire” but I do not think anyone expected such a turnout and such a great atmosphere. It was the start of something really good and it created in the bartending community a bigger sense of belonging.
2.Tell us a fun fact about your MWL experience.
While doing the interview for cyberpresse at the end I had people whispering in my ears the most random comments possible and I could not concentrate on the questions. I literally did not hear a single question the journalist asked and answered what I imagine a person would ask after an event. It must have been my worst interview ever.
Also wearing the firemen outfit did bring some attention but also not the brightest idea when you hang metal tags all night and you are apparently allergic to it. I had all my skin swollen and burning for a day after. Not doing this again.
3. What was your biggest challenge for this event?
Not to embarrass myself, I mean there were a lot of the most known names in the cocktail scene from Montreal. Some names that are still there now and still pushing boundaries. I did not have their skill level, I just knew a lot of people and did not mind playing on entertaining people which are also part of being behind a bar. I was amaze at what the others did, having a stand next to legends of the cocktail scene such as Graham Warner who was right next to me with his twist on a blue blazer, in the other room was Lawrence Picard with a cocktails in egg shells that was just as beautiful as it was delicious, a little further away Manny Vides being Manny, Sam Dalcourt being as tight as you can be on a cocktail, Drahos Chytry making pure deliciousness, Jean Vasquez flairing and Chris Natale. Yes I did try all of their cocktails and had an epiphany: Montreal had something big coming its way cocktail wise and I was going to have a really bad hangover.
4. What did you learn from your experience with MWL?
After 27 shots of my cocktail I was DONE!!!!
Passion is best served in a cocktail glass. It becomes an addictive combination.
5. At what moment in your life did you decide to become a professional bartender?
I cannot describe myself as a professional bartender, I am a passionate one but not a professional one. I always did it out of pleasure, out of passion. But in all honesty it came when I realize that by doing so I could drink for free, when you are in university that is huge.
6. What is your favorite cocktail? Why?
That is my very problem, I love so many of them, and it depends on the mood, on how it is made and by whom. Currently I often order a Last Word, I find it is balance, nice to drink slowly, I find it complex enough but that is just this week. Next week who knows?
7. What is the cocktail you despise most? Why?
Well currently also the last word, I drank too many of it and had a few rough mornings. I find that all cocktails are made for different taste buds. I can see the idea behind many of them and I appreciate the creativity even in a simple rum and coke someone still had to think of mixing both. So I do not judge, I just try to make them the best they will ever have of whatever they ordered.
8. What is your go-to/favorite ingredient?
I love fresh herbs, I feel they play on the visual, the olfaction and the taste. None in particular but I feel that in general they marry well with so many spirits and can be used in many different ways.
9. What do you shot?
I like to take shots with people and I can shot whatever they like, I get to travel a lot and every city in the world shots different things and I just go with it. I am currently in Donetsk Eastern Ukraine and they shot vodka with fresh horseradish and a lot of it. It is really good.
10. What is the most insipid question a client has asked you?
You have the traditional faux-pas to ask a bartender such as what is your real job, did you put alcohol in this and so on. I actually do not mind these questions, I have fun with them, I like to answer people and sometimes shock them, if they dare to ask they must be ready to have an answer they did not see coming. It is part of the fun. As Hemingway once put it: “I drink to make other people more interesting” So if you are discourage with a question just have a drink with that person 😉