This is Jay Meyers, bartender at Shameful Tiki in Toronto.
Jay is from Toronto. He went to school in journalism, but after going to a few big conferences, he realized the inner workings of the trade and decided that it wasn’t for him. It was back when he was in journalism school that he got his first job in hospitality.
Jay got a second job as a dishwasher while working for the Toronto star. It was extremely long hours, was very hard and didn’t make much sense for him since he was working double shifts every day and was hardly making ends meet. He sought for a more sustainable option and got a job as a busser at Loose Moose. His first shifts were during a Grey Cup week end. He ran like crazy and walked out of the place with almost enough money to pay his rent. Jay saw that this could be a better option for him and that’s how he started to explore the front of house. He stayed at Loose Moose for about a year and a half. He went from busser to expo and then to server. He wanted to bartend, but he didn’t fit the physical requirements of the job, they would only hire pretty girls at the bar. However, there was another bar downstairs where the guys were doing flair bartending. He picked up some flair skills before he actually started to bartend.
Then one day, Jay got a call from a friend saying that Miller Tavern was looking for bartenders. Jay was already curious about cocktails, had started to read cocktail books, had basic knowledge in flair and really wanted to bartend. So he went straight away and managed to get hired on the spot. And this marked his official debuts in cocktail bartending. He worked there for a while, then worked at a few other cocktail venues and eventually got a call from Alana Nogueda saying that she was opening a Tiki Bar. Jay was in from the very get-go, he has been working at Shameful Tiki Room in Toronto from the beginning.
Overall, what really got Jay into cocktails was the stories that are behind. As much as he likes drinking and the experience of drinking in a social context, for him it was always the stories about cocktails that made them great in his mind. Working at Shameful Tiki is a great fit for him. He loves the atmosphere, laid-back vibe and escapism. He also sure loves rum. And he reminds us that the stories and culture behind tiki cocktails are great. If you have a chance to pay him a visit at the bar once it is possible and safe to do so, we highly recommend you do.
A little bit more about Jay...
The three words that describe him best: riff raff – fun oriented – irresponsible
The first drink that made him fall in love with cocktails: Corpse Reviver #2
His favorite tropical drink: Mai Tai. Because it’s everywhere, it’s been around for so long, and it’s one of the few cocktails that actually went to court.
The biggest lesson that his job taught him: It’s like two sides of the scale: don’t judge a book by its cover, but also trust your gut.
An advice he would offer younger bartenders: You shouldn’t have to adapt your personality to a bar, the bar should fit you. Make sure you’re finding a place where the people and the space make sense for you. Because either you’re gonna turn around one day and realize that this isn’t you, or even scarier, you’re gonna turn around and realize that you were sucked into that culture and that now you’re part of that toxicity. So find a bar that’s you.