Who | Alex Kazam
Where | Toronto, Canada
Current Bar | –
Past Bar(s) |Island Yacht Club, Planet Hollywood (Niagara Falls, ON), St. Louis Bar and Grill (St. Catharines), Johnny Rocco’s (St. Catharines)
Favourite Spirit | Tequila
Favourite Juice | Apple (juiced fresh at home/behind the wood)
Favourite Classic Cocktail | Perfect Manhattan, no neon/fluorescent glowing cherries please, short glass, neat)
Favourite Part of the Job | Creating magical and memorable moments for and between guests.
Favourite After Work Drink | Boulevardier
Favourite at Home Drink | Cazadores Reposado on the rocks
Favourite bar in the world | Employees Only (New York City)
Best known for | Guest Connection & Experience
Best story from behind the wood | I was once working the bar alone at Planet Hollywood, we had a 350 person event that was schedule to come in 5 seatings between 5 and 9 pm. Due to miscommunication, and an emergency at one of the associated restaurants (Hard Rock Cafe), all 350 people showed up at the same time, at 7 pm. We also had regular service in the restaurant available for any tourists or visitors that weren’t with this specific group of 350. Needless to say, it was summer, and it was BUSY. Our seating capacity was about 550. We had 6 servers on, and were supposed to have 2 bartenders. My colleague called in sick at 3 pm. Not thinking it was a big deal, the GM said “No problem, Alex will be able to handle this solo”. At this point I had only been bartending for about 5 months. I had some really great mentors, and I like to think even at that early stage in my career I was okay when it came to speed of service. However, with only 6 servers on, we had to take the 350 in seating waves as best we could, so my bar was full of patrons, ranging from understanding and/or slightly annoyed to totally pissed off. I was also doing full service bar for the people already sitting and eating. My chits were coming at me faster than Bruce Lee with intravenous Redbull shot into his system, and people were literally yelling to get my attention. Most people were super grateful and many complimented my ability to stay calm, cool and collected in the obvious SHIT SHOW that we had decided to stage that night. I had a group of ladies tell me they wanted me to come bartend privately later on in their hotel room. I had one man tell me I was the fastest and nicest bartender he’s ever met, and added that should mean a lot to me because he drinks A LOT. Long story long, I made my way down the wood in typical typewriter fashion to a man who looked somewhat like a cross between Jason Statham and a less attractive James Bond with a splash of Vladimir Putin thrown in for good measure. I asked him what I could get for him, he said: “A bottle of Riesling Gewurztraminer and 4 glasses.” I nodded, quickly turned around to get the bottle, chiller, and glassware. I heard him snark from behind me “…and you better pray those glasses are perfectly polished boy!” Thinking he was kidding around, having way too much optimism in the human condition, I turned back around with the bill/micros machine in hand, four perfectly polished glasses and the bottle of wine in its chiller. When he inserted his card, and saw the tip prompt he loudly exclaimed: “Hahaha, tip?! You?! You must be kidding me! Get this out of my face!” I removed his card, cancelled the transaction. Gave him back his card, and loudly said: “Your wine is on the house tonight sir.” He smiled, and said “that’s more like it”. As he went to take the bottle and glasses, I informed him: “However, your wine will be enjoyed by these pleasant folks to my right who have been nothing but kind and grateful the entire evening, and I am going to have to ask you to leave our establishment. Have a wonderful evening.” The entire bar started applauding, booed the guy until he fled the building with his tail between his legs, and then cheered some more when I lifted my fist in a triumphant “let’s get this party started kind of way”! The manager came out to see what all the commotion was about, I was too busy to inform him. However later that evening, I learned that next to that unpleasant lad, was the CEO of the company. Seeing as this was a large group and a very known, internationally operating company, I imagine that unhappy man had no idea he was standing right next to his very own boss. When things slowed down towards the end of the night, the same CEO asked to speak to my manager, I thought I was done for. He spoke to him alone in private, and then they both asked me to join them. I walked into the office, and sighed a huge audible relief, seeing them both full of smiles, even laughing. The client told me how impressed he was by how I handled the situation, how amused and impressed he was that I stayed completely polite and professional throughout, and even said that he would be making sure that employee’s contract was terminated as he couldn’t stand the thought of someone that “disgusting” working for him. In brief, I learned that night the importance of knowing when someone’s bad attitude is affecting the overall guest experience. I don’t mean to say I make it a habit to kick everyone who is rude out of the bar, I do however understand the importance of knowing when enough is enough and how it may sometimes be better to pull one weed from the garden, than have it consume all the sunlight and fresh air for the entire garden.
What do you collect? Decks of cards from various cities I visit.
Favourite thing about your city? I’d have to say the multicultural aspect, and moreover, seeing it grow from just multi- to intercultural. Communities of various backgrounds, ages, sexual identities, demographics, etc., coming together, blending and building. It’s a long & slow process, and yet it’s neat to know that my generation will have so much opportunity to end various stigmas, work towards proper and proportionate gender and identity representation in every workplace.
What was the last photo that you took? It was of the shot glass “Il Gatto Nero” uses. They are HUGE, and somehow make ordering a round of shots seem like a good idea.
Where was your last vacation? I take mental vacations all the time, I find a quiet, comfortable space and just dream, plan and work on who I will be tomorrow. Also: Brooklyn.
Any claims to fame? I once rode a Unicycle from Niagara Falls, On to New York City, New York to raise money for a charity.
Belt or suspenders? Depends on the outfit.
Fernet or Cynar? Depend on the outfit.
New Orleans or New York City? Depends on the outfit.
Glass or Tin? Depends on the cocktail.
Are you available for freelance gigs? Absolutely!
Find him: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
Media: MunchMasters Commercial [VIDEO]
Illusive Days – Ep. 1 – “Surprise, Shock and Mild Discomfort” [VIDEO]
Long Island Iced Tea