Adrian Chappell, bar manager at The Hollows and Primal, and former Edmontonian Julia Darling both want to see the Saskatoon’s cocktail culture thrive. So, the two are throwing pop-up cocktail parties in top secret locations with a revolving door of outstanding bartenders--the first of its kind for the Bridge City.
The speakeasy-style parties--the first of its kind--have been a huge hit; the last one sold out in just three hours.
“It’s giving bartenders with different experience levels and working in different cultures a way to connect,” said Chappell. “We’re trying to create a super special experience for the people who attend.”
Events are held every eight to 10 weeks; ticket holders find out the location the day before and can look forward to a different venue and bartenders each time. The $40 ticket covers the entrance fee and food for the night; drinks are purchased separately once inside the venue.
Moving forward, Chappell will bring in bartenders from outside the city too. Jayce from Clive’s in Victoria will be featured at the next event on June 3, and tickets for that go on sale May 18 at The Hollows and High Noon Barber.
“It’s awesome to see that Saskatoon’s ready for something more. We’ve been called the ‘up and coming city’ for quite some time. But I don’t want to keep calling ourselves that. I think we’ve arrived. It’s time,” said Chappell.
And on the heels of the global straw-free movement, Chappell has also started an anti-straw revolution in Saskatoon in January: #strawssuckyxe.
The social media campaign is gaining traction as more restaurants join, switching from plastic to compostable straws or getting rid of them altogether.
Chappell encourages diners to ask their servers to leave straws out of drinks when ordering. Coming from an extensive work history in the industry, she said the waste at the end of a bartending shift was always staggering.
“At the end of the night, you’d have a full garbage bin full of straws. We’d use a straw to taste every single cocktail and then throw it out. I think a lot of people want to do more but they just don’t have the tools. And I do, luckily, because I work at a place that has so much knowledge.”
Sustainability is at the very core of The Hollows and Primal’s ethos, and both have always used compostable straws; so too has Saskatoon standby Calories. Both The Hollows and Primal compost or recycle any waste. The compost goes into the restaurant’s gardens.
“Once you learn how easy it is, it’s hard to unlearn,” explain Chappell. “It goes as deep as the bones of the building, not throwing out things because they’re not to our taste level.”
In addition to going straw-free, Congress Beer House has switched to refillable condiment bottles and is composting in the kitchen, while Drift Sidewalk Café has signs asking patrons to think twice before throwing away something that could be composted.
Chappell’s next goal is to go after the restaurant chains, some of which even put straws in water.
“Have we forgotten how to use our mouths?” she laughed.
Calories (has always used biodegradable straws)
Citizen Café and Bakery
Congress Beer House
Drift Sidewalk Café and Vista Lounge
Grassroots Restaurant Group
Nosh Eatery and Tap
O’Brians Event Centre
St. Tropez Bistro