Brook Levie, bartender at Zambri’s, offers up a selection of cocktails, including one with the signature Z in the foam. Don Descoteau/Monday Magazine

Behind Bars: Tales of the Cocktail unveiled

New Monday bartender/cocktail feature kicks off with Zambri’s staffer

Sitting down at the bar at Zambri’s, I imagine being part of the after-work crowd that treats themselves to a flavourful cocktail, comfortably easing into the evening.

I was already off to a good start having had pleasant hostess/manager Nevada greet me as I came in. She showed me to the beautiful yet comfortable bar, illuminated at this time of day by the late-afternoon sun pouring through the large windows in their section of the Atrium Building.

With no big-screen TVs to distract this sports fan, I was free with converse with bartender Brooke Levie, a relatively new addition to the bar staff at this downtown Italian restaurant.

I’ve long enjoyed the experience of watching a talented mixologist concoct a special drink, especially if it’s one of their own design.

Skilled barman Brooke entertained with his mixing style, but also delighted my taste buds.

First came an unnamed drink with the unlikely combo of Mexican El Jimador tequila, Italian Campari bitter, strawberry and balsamic. That yummy mixture was followed by an even more delicious Amaretto Sour, “kicked up a notch,” according to Brooke.

Those flavours were nicely complimented by a plate of Zambri’s Palotte Abruzzese dumplings on tomato sauce.

But we’re here to launch a new feature on bartenders, so without further delay, let’s hear from Brooke:

Claim to fame/best up-the-sleeve trick?

No one single thing. With every new project or event, I’ve aways pushed myself to do something I haven’t done before. Keeps it fresh, interesting and challenging. I haven’t done a lot of fat washing, at Zambri’s I’ve just nailed a very nice little olive oil washed gin martini.

What’s hot right now?

Low waste and sustainability. Zambri’s just celebrated 5 years of being carbon neutral! Re-thinking straws. Eliminating unnecessary garnish. Local spirits, liqueurs and vermouths have come a long way and now the pricing is quite competitive.

What traits make a good bartender?

Service, service, service. I’m thrilled to have joined one of the most hospitality focused teams in town. We are in the business of hospitality, if we can’t give that, everything else is irrelevant. Beards and tattoos help too.

What’s your signature drink?

Sherry cocktails, specifically fino. Fino negroni, fino martini, fino/gin caesar. And how about the sprutz or spritz? Vermouth and/or amaro with a splash of soda and/or Prosecco. So easy with endless options.

What are you drinking these days?

Dry hopped pilsners/lagers, quaffable low tannin Italian reds, rose all day.

Best memory from behind the bar?

Competing (not my thing) in the rigorous Scout Magazine bar comp which is now Barate Kid at The Keefer Bar, the most fun and entertaining competition out there. I was at the top until I was demolished in the head to head round. However, tying the karate kid headband and channeling my inner Daniel-san with a room full of rowdy industry was a killer time!

Zambri’s is at 820 Yates St.

(250) 360-1171 www.zambris.ca

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