This week in the Future of Ottawa series, we’re taking a deep dive into the bar and restaurant industry—what it’s like now and where it’s headed. Read on for a guest post from Quinn Taylor on the future of bars, or read posts from Justin Champagne on fine dining or Kathryn Ferries on Ottawa chefs.
Quinn Taylor has been curating cocktail menus in Ottawa for 10 years. She has won and now judges cocktail competitions. Quinn is available for cocktail consultation.
Apt613: What does the current landscape look like for professional bartenders in Ottawa?
Quinn Taylor: The landscape is changing and there have been uncertainties as the pool of those able to work in the industry narrows. While it’s been devastating to watch some local bars and restaurants forced to shut down, others have discovered new ways of thriving amidst this unstable climate. Our inherent creativity and passion to indulge others are not easily abandoned and we’ve been forced to expand our roles hoping to continue offering a unique cocktail experience in new formats. Our focus has shifted towards product development, marketing and takeout. For some, the downtime creates an opportunity to explore different avenues and develop their own brand.
If you care to make a prediction… Where is the bar/hospitality industry going in 2021?
Optimistically, it would be ideal to see the community’s support in takeout from locally owned businesses continue to grow until the numbers dwindle enough for a safe reopening. Hopefully that would happen before the summer ends but regardless of the timeline I predict that when the day comes to reopen there will be a boom in sales sprung from a shared desperation for a change of scenery and a stiff drink in a dim place crafted by a friendly face.
The dream: COVID is over and you’re taking Apartment613 readers on a night out to imbibe with some of Ottawa’s finest bars and bartenders. Where will you take us?
I always love to start the evening with an elegant classic shaken or stirred by the legendary Mr. Flood along Riviera’s iconic brass bar. After that a visit with Camille at Supply & Demand for something bright and thoughtful, then Fauna for a fresh tipple. Then we would pop into Union for Shane’s latest creation followed by a bold beverage and a laugh with Marty at Mati. We would continue down Preston to finish the night off with a cheeky nightcap at The Moonroom.
In your wildest dreams, what could the Ottawa bar/cocktail community grow to look like in your lifetime?
First and foremost I would love to see more women bartending, leading programs, and owning bars. It would be great to see even more cocktail focused bars open up in Ottawa, each one completely unique. The community needs to collaborate to find ways to shed light on the amazing things going on in our cocktail scene that are often overlooked.
What is the best innovation to take place in your industry since the pandemic started affecting Ottawa?
Definitely it was the ability for bars to sell beer, wine, and spirits through takeout and delivery alongside food. It enabled many businesses to stay open despite lockdowns and also provided our community with access to specialty consignment products and an alternative to long lines.
*Who* is the future of bartending and cocktail arts in Ottawa?
The future of bartending in Ottawa will be up to those still standing at the end of all this and more importantly the upcoming generation of bartenders who hopefully didn’t lose their passion for the industry and the craft.
Tell us something you wish somebody had told you when you started your career in bartending.
That technology and social media would transform the nature of the industry as we knew it.
Back in 2015, Apartment613 took a look at the future of Ottawa across several different sectors. In 2021, we’re bringing the series back, asking experts, artists, and community leaders to shed some light on their local field or industry, as it stands now and where they think—or dream—it will go over the next few years. Every week we’ll profile a different cultural sector in Ottawa, leaving no niche unexplored—from social justice to theatre, bars to sports, to the future of the municipality and its natural environs. Keep an eye out for a new batch of posts every Tuesday on Apt613.ca.