The Bartender’s List- Sabrine Dedden

Sabrine Dedden

I was sitting at the bar at West the other day partaking in cocktails with a friend whom I had just reconnected with. She was asking me about the blog and busting my balls (in a very supportive way) for not putting forth more effort. She told me that the posts were good but I wasn’t writing often enough. She wanted me to be more creative. She wanted me to expand. She wanted me to network. She wanted me to look to opportunities to further my reach. And then she suggested a series of bartender interviews.

At first I was like “Who is going to want to do an interview for my tiny, random, unknown blog.” And then I was like “I don’t have the balls to even ask anybody to be a part of my tiny, random unknown blog.” But finally, I was like, “F$#% it! I’m asking.” To my surprise and amazement, I found willing participants! Not one, not two, not three BUT FOUR!!! And (fingers crossed) more to come.

And with that, a summer series is born. Welcome to The Bartender’s List- a series of posts that will feature interviews with local and international bartenders. As long as we have the participation, I am hoping to post one interview per week over the course of the summer.

First up is one of my favourite local bartenders and a dear friend. She’s currently the Assistant Bar Manager at West Restaurant and is a force to be reckoned with behind the wood. She demonstrates an unwavering commitment to detail, innovation and classic excellence. If you haven’t spent an evening at West when she is behind the bar, you are truly missing out. So kick back, make yourself an Old Fashioned, and enjoy the first installment of The Bartender’s List with the ever-talented Sabrine Dedden.

1) How long have you been bartending?

I’ve been behind the bar for about two years now but have been working in the hospitality industry for 10 years

2) Where are you currently working?

West Restaurant and Bar at 13th and Granville

3) What was your first sip of alcohol?

I don’t really remember. Alcohol wasn’t really taboo in our household. I think my dad gave me Baileys or beer when I was maybe 7 or 8…hopefully not together.

4) If you could only have a 5 bottle bar, what would they be?

Tough questions! Anything from Jamie Boudreau’s Bar. 

1. Botanist Gin

2. Rittenhouse Rye

3. Green Chartreuse

4.  Fernet

5.  Woodford Bourbon

5) What is your death-row drink?

Ramos Gin Fizz and they better shake it until the ice is completely gone and their arms are about the fall off. If I’m on death row I may as well laugh the whole way.

6) What is one rule you wish all patrons would follow that you’re not allowed to make?

Nobody can order the same drink. We have such large variety of cocktails to suit all needs. Explore! There is so much out there, and if there isn’t anything on the list you’d like, tell me what kind of drink you desire and I’m happy to create. I love a challenge.

7) Other than your own, where is your favourite bar to go for a drink?

I have a few, in no particular order

1. Uva wine and cocktail bar

2. L’Abattoire

3. Tableau

4. Sardine Can

5. Pour House

8) The album that would capture the feel of your dream bar?

I don’t have an answer for this. There are way too many possibilities. Different genre every night maybe? I also haven’t figured out what my dream bar would be…that may be the issue.

9) The one cocktail book that should be behind every the bar?

There are so many great cocktail books out there along with spirit specific books, its hard to pick just one. You would likely find the DiffordGuide Cocktails- The Bartenders Bible. Its intense since it has so many cocktails in it, but it does a great job of giving a little bit of history of classic cocktail and some modern interpretations. Take all the recipes with a grain of salt.

10) The one non-cocktail book that should be behind every bar?

The Flavor Bible by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg. I use this book all the time. It’s a wonderful reference tool.

11) Three words that best describe your approach to cocktails

Simple, elegant and forward (both progressive and booze forward

12) Most unusual drink request?

Don’t even get me started!

13) If you could make a cocktail for anybody, dead or alive, who would it be and what would you make them?

Nelson Mandela. He would have some incredible stories to share. I think his stories would require a slow drink, something that improves with dilution- a Vieux Carre.

14) If you weren’t a bartender, what would you be?

A dentist or orthodontist…. explains the second round of braces in my mid twenties.

15) Free-pour or measured?


16) If your shifts behind the bar had a theme song, what would it be?

Depends on the night. Perhaps Californication by Red Hot Chili Peppers (we are Hollywood North!) or Frank Sinatra The Way You Look Tonight because everyone is really loving the cocktail and the ambiance.

17) Who currently has the best bartender facial hair in town?


18) Tom Cruise in the movie Cocktail- Great performance or Greatest performance?

I need to watch Cocktail before I can answer that question.

19) One drink on your current cocktail menu that everybody needs to try.

Peachy Keen- light, summery, ginger and peach with a touch of lavender…summer in a glass

20) What is your favourite three-ingredient cocktail and how do you make it?

Easy! A Boulevardier- Woodford Bourbon, Punt E Mes, Campari, stirred until chilled and diluted. Pour over ice. Garnish with an orange twist.

Thank you Sabrine for being our very first interview for The Bartender’s List! Stay tuned for the second installment. We have some of our favourite local bartenders on deck. On a final note, I want to dedicate this post to Anne. I want you to know that I took what you said to heart and I appreciate the much needed ball-busting session! Cheers!