Mav Chefs 2015: Q&A with Hailey Pasemko, Wolf in the Fog Bar Manager
The perfect cocktail spot does exist. In fact, there’s one in Tofino, British Columbia. Wolf in the Fog (previously making waves in Quench Magazine with Mav Chef Nick Nutting) has a bar manager that is making her own bitters, cocktails and even liqueur. Her name is Hailey Pasemko, and she’s wetting the whistles of all of Wolf in the Fog’s guests. I had the unique opportunity to pick her creative brain to find out how she makes the bar in Tofino the perfect cocktail spot (even if it is out in the middle of nowhere).
Why did you become a bartender/bar manager?
Originally to put myself through university, but then I fell in love with the craft.
Why make your own bitters, syrups, infusions and Hailey’s Fig Cream Liqueur?
Liquids became a medium for creativity. I love experimenting with unexpected ingredients and flavours to create a totally unique cocktail experience that the guest will never have in another bar. Also, you’re able to have greater control over the final outcome of the drink if you control the ingredients it is composed of.
What inspires you when you’re creating a new cocktail?
I’m often inspired by the seasons, whether that means utilizing seasonal produce or creating drinks that complement the climate (i.e. long refreshing drinks for summer or warming savory drinks for fall and winter).
How much trial and error goes into your new recipes?
It’s always a factor. It is important to have a foundation of classic cocktails that have stood the test of time, that are proven to work, and build from there. I’ll often start with a rough idea of a flavor profile but set up a control and try the same drink with different spirits/bitters/or citrus to find the winning combination.
What are the challenges you face as bar manager?
Office work mostly, I’d rather be out in the bar making drinks!
What’s your favourite drink to make (and why)?
Putting together a big six-person punch might be one of my favorite things to make in the bar here. The look on people’s faces is priceless when you pull out the giant crystal bowl and just start loading it with spirits.
**Note: Wolf in the Fog serves large format cocktails for two, four or six people, served in vintage crystal punch bowls. See current offerings here: http://www.wolfinthefog.com/food-drink/bar/
How do you decide which wines and beers to have in-house?
We choose products that complement the overall ethos of the restaurant. We work with small, quality minded breweries and wineries, and we offer a variety of styles of beers and wines to try and please a variety of palates.
We also make sure the wines pair well with the food we offer – as we are a seafood driven menu, we don’t have a ton of heavy, tannic reds for example.
What do you usually have in your glass? (And what do you eat with it?)
Usually a glass of Synchromesh Thorny Vines Riesling, especially if I’m eating Chef Nutting’s Moroccan spiced octopus. Yum!
What’s your favourite part of being bar manager at Wolf in the Fog?
The opportunity to be part of a team of such amazing and talented people.