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Behind Bars with Bartender Jessica Douglas

Friends of Dorothy Lounge is the place to be

Dorothy, you are DEFINITELY not in Kansas anymore…So don those fabulous glittery red shoes and your best gingham because your friends await you in Victoria at 537 Johnson Street.

That’s where you’ll find Monday’s Munchkins (this magazine’s experienced cocktail-tasters) because we’re going back!

The Friends of Dorothy Lounge is relatively new in town and from first glance as you enter, you’ll see the club has brought Oz along. You’ll agree no other establishment in this town is as bright and beautiful, welcoming and creative.

But, let us explain. If you aren’t familiar, the term “Friends of Dorothy” has a history and was used as a discreet manner for people in the gay community to identify themselves—rather like a code. It is born from a time when the gay community faced discrimination, fear and bias.

Well, times have changed, and absolutely everyone is welcome at Friends of Dorothy in this safe and queer-friendly place.

The room is decked out with giant painted florals from the hand of an anonymous artist (oh, do tell, please!) and satiric murals. Then there’s the opulent giant crystal chandelier at the entrance. With lots of space indoors and out, just set yourself down on the purple and green furniture, and order up!

The lounge features a rainbow cocktail menu and you’ll know for sure that you’re not in Kansas because there’s actually a concoction named “Not in Kansas Anymore.” Take your pick of house specialties: Wizard of Oz, There’s No Place Like Home, Wicked Witch of the West…you get the picture.

It’s fun, it’s engaging, it’s creative.

Don’t take the words of the Monday Munchkins team, let’s hear about it from bartender Jessica Douglas herself.

Best up the sleeve trick or technique?

To narrow it down to two, balancing flavours by an equal ratio of sour to sweet and chilling the vermouth and spirit to ensure the best martini possible.

What is hot right now?

Shafts are a Victoria staple and continually prove their popularity. We also have a lot of classic cocktails that were created around the prohibition era—such as “The Last Word”— that are becoming increasingly popular.

What traits make a good bartender?

Bartending is more than putting product on the table to service an order. It takes curiosity of spirits, passion, dedication to the craft and good social skills. A bartender has to have a refined palate, the communication skills to be able to connect with each guest and the ability to personalize drinks. Like each spirit, every guest is different and has a wide range of likes and dislikes. By having knowledge of cocktail history, it’s easier to not only create new and fresh beverages, but allow for each person to try something different. Above all else, they should be welcoming; they should create an environment for everyone that is safe and without judgment.

What is your signature beverage?

My signature beverage is called “The Hot Mamasita,” which pays tribute to my close family ties as well as my Spanish background. It is a balanced mixture of various rums, pineapple and orange notes garnished with a flaming lime.

What are you drinking these days?

Each beverage or spirit I have is reminiscent for me. Much like how one can remember where they were and who they were with the first time they hear a song, I am the same with beverages. My first experience loving gin was with Empress gin and it always tastes like home no matter where I travel. As well, I drink Spagets, which is a combination of Miller High Life, lemon juice and Aperol, because it’s reminiscent of my early days at Friends Of Dorothy. It reminds me of all the love I have received here and all the amazing people I have had the pleasure of meeting.

What is your best memory behind the bar?

Each day brings a new inventory of great