Commons bartender Geneviéve Turgeon creates cocktails behind the bar at 10 Acres, a stone’s throw from Victoria’s Inner Harbour. Don Descoteau/Monday Magazine

BEHIND BARS: Nothing common about this place

Commons bartender Geneviéve Turgeon makes what’s old fashioned new again

It seems odd to walk into Commons and not see it chock-a-block full of people. Mind you, it’s 4:15 p.m. as Monday publisher Ruby Della Siega and I are walking into this popular downtown watering hole, part of the thriving 10 Acres restaurant complex.

It’ll get plenty busy soon enough, but we’re glad it’s a little quieter for our chat with Geneviéve Turgeon, a two-year veteran bartender at Commons. This native of Quebec City greets us warmly and quickly makes us feel right at home.

At the bar we learn Geneviéve has a diploma in hotel/restaurant management, has tended bars since she was 19, is now a qualified acupuncturist and loves good food and drink. She gets right to work creating her specialty, Oldest of Fashions (see more below) – it’s her take on the typical Old Fashioned and is a smooth, tasty combo of Maker’s Mark bourbon, Grand Marnier, sugar and bitters.

Ruby orders a Kombucha Bliss, a gin-based cocktail with elderflower, lemon and ginger kombucha which she describes as “refreshingly tart, without sweetness.” To balance things off, Geneviéve offers up a Whiskey Royal, a delightful mix of whiskey, Chambord (raspberry liqueur), lemon and ginger kombucha that is perfectly sweet.

The friendly atmosphere, of which our host today is a big part, makes us want to return. But let’s hear more from Geneviéve:

Your claim to fame/best up-the-sleeve trick or technique? I’m not sure about special techniques, I think those come with the job. But I think the thing I’m really good at is remembering people and what they had the one time that they visited me, no matter how long ago. I think I’m really good at making people feel welcome.

What’s hot right now? The tiki bar is coming back. We’re seeing more and more rum punches and blue Hawaiians being ordered.

What traits make a good bartender? I think it’s about making people feel like you are welcoming them to your house. It’s about leaving your ego at the door and making sure that people have an awesome time.

What’s your signature drink? Last year I developed a small obsession with bourbon and Old Fashioneds so I created the The Oldest of Fashion. In it, we wash the glass with vanilla to highlight the vanilla notes in Maker’s Mark, then we add a touch of Grand Marnier for a touch of sweetness and orange, and top it off with Angostura and Orange Bitters. Classic but different – I love that drink.

What are you drinking these days? My drink of choice varies from season to season, but summer is here and I’ve been ordering tequila soda with a dash of pineapple or a crisp white wine. There’s also something to be said about a cold Radler on a hot day!

Best memory from behind the bar? A couple weeks ago, I wrote my last exam for my three-year acupuncture degree. I showed up at work after that exam to a full bar of people that remembered my last day of school and chose to come and celebrate that with me. The vibe that night was amazing and I felt so thankful that the people I’ve been spending my evenings with for the past two years chose to celebrate that day with me. It was such a fun night.

*****

The Commons at 10 Acres

620 Humboldt St. / 10acres.ca/commons

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