Name: Robin James Wynne
1. Where are you from?
Ive been living in Toronto for the last 11 years and came from Guelph before that.
2. Where do you currently work?
I currently work at Miss Things cocktail bar and restaurant in Toronto, as the Bar manager, and consult on bar programs on the side for a few establishments.
3. How long have you been in the industry?
I started in the industry as a chef in 1995 and have been working in the bar world since 2004
4. If you could work with any other bartender in the world for one night who would it be?
I’d love to work a trio of guys, Frankie Solarik (Barchef), Mariam Beke (The Gibson London), Kevin Beary (Three dots and a Dash, Chicago) as all of their creativity and outside the box thinking inspires me!
5. If you could visit any bar in the world where would it be?
I’d go back to my favourite bar in the world, Rum Point Club, in Rum Point, Grand Cayman, a great place to unwind and reset with a mudslide!
6. Who is your mentor, if you have one?
I wouldn’t say I have one mentor or a person who I trained under. I sat at many bars in Toronto when the cocktail scene was just really getting steam.. I look to Nishan Nepulongoda, Sandy D’Almeida, Frankie Solarik and Rob Montgomery as my peers who’ve helped and guided me along the way!
7. Why do you feel MADE WITH LOVE, as a cocktail competition, is important for the Industry in Toronto?
I think Made With Love is important for the younger generation just getting into the community as a platform to showcase their passion and creativity where they might not have the same chance behind their work bar. It’s a great chance for those quieter voices to have a moment in the light to shine, and to also meet new peers and develop new relationships within the community. It also gives bar chefs a chance to go outside the box to try new things they might not get an opportunity to do behind their own bars.
8. What is the skill you look for in a competitor when you are judging?
A skill I look for in a competitor is to be able to balance a cocktail and still showcase and preserve the hero spirit. If you over complicate a drink, the spirit can get lost and the drink becomes “muddy”. Don’t overthink or over complicate your cocktail or presentation. Be original and honest, but challenge yourself.
9. What is the most impressive thing you have ever seen a bartender do at a competition?
The most impressive thing I’ve seen done would be someone using a Virtual Bar Experience by developing a VR headset 360’ view of their bar, and once you’ve got the headset on, they incorporated scents that would be found in their bar. While you sip the drink, you look around the bar in the headset, and talk with the bartender, then take off the headset and enjoy the cocktail. A multi-sensory experience.
10.What’s the most frequent error competitors do in a competition?
I think competitors don’t build for ease of execution for larger service competitions, where many guests will be sampling their cocktail. They need to have a team of 3-4 to help execute the various steps of their cocktail to ensure they get their drink finished fast.. Thinking through each step and preparing a plan with a team will help ensure you don’t have a lineup of frustrated patrons. The more drinks you get into people’s hands, the better chance you have at earning their vote.
11. What’s the biggest challenge a judge has?
The biggest challenge a judge has is getting a proper taste, perhaps a secondary taste to get the full flavour profile and finish of the cocktail. It’s also hard to understand how much a competitor has put into their cocktail. From experience, a lot of time, prep, hours, long nights that lead up to being successful sometimes get lost in the moment when a competitor presents.
12. What is the most precious advice you could give to a competitor?
Be yourself, be honest with your drink, and make sure you can execute. Make sure your cocktail is balanced, and that all the steps taken during execution are in sync with each other. Don’t overcomplicate your presentation and keep it fun. Showcase your passion and personality!!