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Kate Boushel, bar manager and The Queen

Updated: Jun 2, 2021

A portrait of Kate Boushel, bar manager in Montreal (Québec)
Kate Boushel

This is Kate Boushel.

Kate is 37 years old. She was born in Winnipeg, spent the first years of her life in Moosomin, and moved to Montreal’s south shore area in the mid-’90s. She has a bachelor's in Political Science and a master’s in Public Relations. It was when she started university that Kate moved to Montreal.

Kate was working in hospitality back when she was studying, stepped away from it to focus on her career in PR, and found her way back in 2013. The story goes as follows.

Her debuts started with pizza. She worked at a Pizzedelic stand in different Costcos and got a job in a Piazzetta restaurant in St-Lambert. It was there that she learned most steps of service since there was no task division amongst the staff, everyone was doing everything from the door to bussing tables and taking orders. The last job she had before stepping away from hospitality was at a bar on St-Laurent called Le Pistol. This was in the mid 2000s and the concept of the bar was inspired by James Bond movies. You saw it coming, they had a full martini cocktail menu with about 10 different variations on it. Of course, they weren’t exactly what you would call craft cocktails, but still, she learned how to use a shaker. Eventually, she came to the point where she wanted to focus on what she was studying and to build more of an adult life for herself. Unlike most people that try to stir away from hospitality but never really manage to do it, Kate did it. She finished her master’s. Worked for big PR firms, and made a career for herself.

Eight years later, Kate was doing PR for some of her friends that still worked in the bar industry. It was a time when the cocktail scene was emerging in Montreal. It was also the time when Kate realized that deep down, she missed hospitality. She started thinking things over and found that there were actually a lot of similarities between public relations and hospitality. She realized that it was basically PR done in a different way. All the things that she really liked about PR could be applied to an industry she already loved and already knew she had a talent for.

Hence, she slowly made her way back to it. She started giving a hand and working with Melanie Aumais at Trippes et Caviar and she eventually came back full time when she started working at Deca 77. Moving forward, she joined the team at Mal Necessaire for some time and eventually moved on to open Atwater Cocktail Club.

She started her adventure at Atwater Cocktail Club as a bartender. She worked there for a few years and definitely played a big part in shaping that bar. She eventually convinced her bosses to create a new position for her in the company and is now the Beverage and Education Director for the Barroco Group. This includes Atwater Cocktail Club, Foiegwa, Milky Way, Fugazzi, and Barroco. If you wonder what her title actually includes in terms of tasks, there would be way too many of us to list here, Kate gets a lot of things done for only one person. Simply put, she creates a training program for bar and service staff, trains them on everything booze-related from cocktails to spirits to fortified wines and more; she actively takes part in the conceptualization of the different cocktail menus and oversees the inventories; she represents the group in bar events and pop-ups, is often a panelist at such events and still takes a couple of shifts behind the bar here and there or when needed.

Over time, Kate has managed to make a very good career for herself in this business while her work has also highly contributed to make our community shine as a whole. She stands as one of the most reputable and knowledgeable Canadian bartenders and is an incredible resource for many who seek her advice. She is also an active advocate for diversity and is involved in our community on many levels. Overall, we are very lucky that Kate found her way back to us if only because sitting at her bar truly feels like such a treat.


A little bit more about…

The three words that describe her best: vibrant – caring – curious

What Kate wanted to do when she was going to be older: The first woman Prime Minister of Canada.

What she loves most about her job: Talking about spirits with people. Telling them about the art that is in the bottle. Educate and spark these types of conversations.

A piece of advice she offers younger bartenders: It’s ok if you don’t know everything from the start. You just have to recognize where you stand and not skip steps to get where you want to be. And as much as you have to respect your own rhythm, at some point you will have to jump in.

What she thinks makes the beauty and the strength of our community: The fact that most people in this industry ended up there because they were misfits in other places. A lot of people don’t think in a linear way, a lot of others who didn’t fit with the academic frame. A lot of what we do is crisis management and solution-finding. We are people that have very innovative ways to perceive and manage these issues. And of course, the more we will make sure to have a diverse community, the more we will be able to benefit from it.

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