This is Josh Lindley, from Toronto, bartender and co-founder of Bartender Atlas and Toronto Cocktail Conference.
Josh is from Cobourg, a small town just outside of Toronto. He moved to the city in 1999 to study radio broadcasting. When he graduated, he got a job at Edge 102.1, the only edge rock radio station of the time in Toronto. He started by handing out pamphlets and such things and eventually made his way up to be on air. After working there for a few years, Josh left the station to tour with a rock band. He drove across Canada and the USA many times, toured with the group for a few years and was working at a record store. It wasn’t the best source of income and at some point, Josh grew tired of not having any money. One of his friends that was working at the Drake Hotel asked him if he wanted to join the team as a bar back. That was in 2006, Josh was 25 years old and that was the start of his hospitality career.
Josh worked his way up and stayed at the Drake until 2010. When the Olympics hit the West coast, Josh went to work for a friend at a hotel bar in Vancouver. This lasted only a few weeks, but it turned out to be a big leap in his career. One of his colleagues was Simon Ogden, a bartender that has now left the industry. Simon was an exceptionally talented bartender and while working together, Josh got to learn a lot from him. When he came back to Toronto, he started to run the bar program at Campagnolo. After that, he continued working as a bartender in venues such as Bar Isabel, the Harbord Room and Chantecler, and also worked as a brand ambassador for Hendricks. Somewhere along this path, Josh founded Bartender Atlas with his partner Jessica Blaine, and is also one of the master minds behind Toronto Cocktail Conference. On top of it all, Josh bartends as much as he can. He is still part of the Chantecler team and launched Bitter Days last summer, a pop-up bar inspired by his travels in Europe located in the old Chantecler space.
Overall, Josh is the type of guy that seizes the opportunities that come to him. Like he says, “always say yes until your guts says no”. This led him to develop many varied skills and experience in different fields over time. Specifically in bartending, he has managed to make quite a flamboyant career for himself. Not only is he and I quote: “a loudmouth that knows a lot about booze”, Josh genuinely cares about our community and actively works to make it better.
A little bit more about Josh...
The three words that describe him best: Energetic – adaptable – loudmouth
Life motto (it would rather be his epitaph): Had a great time saying yes and a hard time saying no.
Fun fact about him: He’s in love and forever will be in love with Janet Jackson.
An advice he offers to younger bartenders: Always say yes until your guts says no.
The biggest lesson that his job taught him: A lot of people are choosing to spend time with you and you should respect that. Whether it’s just two friends having a drink before a game or two brothers that haven’t seen each other for three years, as a bartender you get to be a part of people’s lives. Understanding that and treating people with respect is very important.