This is Marika Bouchard, from Halifax.
Marika is 32 years old. She is originally from New-Brunswick, was raised in Montreal and moved to Halifax when she was 24 years old. Marika comes from a big family. She has seven brothers and sisters that live a little bit everywhere across Canada and the USA. She speaks English and French. She is also the mother of a beautiful and big dog called Bentley.
Marika has been bartending for 14 years. Her first job in the hospitality was at a Barbies Bar and Grill Restaurant in Montreal. She started as a busser when she was 17 years old and as soon as she turned 18, she asked to work behind the bar. This is where she learned the classics of the time, namely the Long Island Iced Teas and good ol’ rum and cokes. One night, there was a private event and Marika created her first cocktail for all the guests to enjoy. It was something along the lines of Baileys, chocolate syrup and mint shaken together. She remembers everyone being like “Oh, this is so good!” and her being like “Oh, this is so much fun!”. From there on, she knew she really enjoyed bartending. She started to work at a cigar lounge where she was asked for cocktails such as the Old Fashioned and the Rob Roy. She arrived there confident she knew how to bartend but had no idea how to make these classics. She started to learn a little bit more about classic cocktails. After working at the cigar lounge, Marika got a job at La Mouche, a very busy night club in Montreal. She started as a hostess, moved her way up to bottle service and eventually managed to get behind the bar. If that time in her career wasn’t the time where she learned most about cocktails, it sure was the time that she realized you had to work your way up and earn your position to get where you want to be.
In the end, Marika grew tired of the big city life and decided to move to Halifax. She got a job at a restaurant called the Onyx and this is where she really started to learn about craft cocktails. After that, she got a job at the Black Sheep and eventually became the manager. She moved on to another management position at a venue called the Exchange where she had a lot of fun and was able to be very creative with her cocktail menu. In parallel, Marika had started to take part in cocktail competitions and really enjoyed that part of the trade. She loved being able to see all the great ways other people expressed their creativity and being inspired by all the talent in the community. Even if she loved the industry, she decided to take a year off and go travel. When she came back, Matt Boyle and Jeff Van Horne were opening Dear Friend in Darmouth and asked her to join the team. Marika couldn’t resist the appeal to work with these guys, so she came back behind the wood to join their great team.
An interesting thing about Marika is how she creates cocktails with ingredients that she does not particularly enjoy. She has her saying that if she creates cocktails with ingredients that she already loves, it’s very easy for her to enjoy her creations. On the other hand, when she comes up with a cocktail made with certain things that she doesn’t like, it takes more time and tweaking to come up with a version that she will enjoy even if she doesn’t like all the ingredients it contains. This way, she knows for sure that she can convince other people that don’t typically like the ingredients to give it a try anyway because chances are, they will like it. Marika likes to try new things, to create cocktails and play with combinations that are uncommon. And it works. It is also a core belief of hers that what she does is to please other people, not herself. She is very active in making sure that if she tries to bring a guest on a journey with a drink, that the guest is actually willing and enjoys the journey.
Eventually, Marika would like to explore ownership of her own venue. As much as she loves bartending and serving people, she would like to focus most of her work managing and creating an atmosphere for people to come in and feel good. Overall, Marika strikes us as being a very attentive, intelligent and creative cocktail professional that is sure to turn into gold whatever project is awaiting her next.
A little bit more about Marika...
The three words that describe her best: meticulous – humorous – caring
One thing that she achieved on her list to-do list: Having her own place, not being in dept and being able to live life, a good life, without relying on anyone else.
Life Moto: Life doesn’t stop when you do.
Fun fact about her: She sews her own costumes and creates three Halloween costumes per year.
The biggest lesson her job taught her: It’s not about you. It’s not about if you like your own cocktails or not. It’s all about if the person you are serving is having a great time and likes what you are doing to make them have a full experience.