This is Reece Michael Southern, from Calgary, bar manager at Proof.
Reece is 29 years old and is from a small town called Karratha in Western Australia. He lived there until he was 19. When he finished his apprenticeship in Fabrication and Welding, he moved down South with his dad and started working in the mines and doing a lot of fly-ins, fly-out work. After a couple of years, he went on a few weeks trip to Europe with a friend and had an amazing time. When he came back to Australia, he packed up his things and moved to France, where he lived for three years.
It was in France that Reece made his debuts in hospitality. He got a bartending job at a hostel bar, where he ended up working until he moved back to Australia. He worked his way up and was running the place when he left. This is where Reece learned a lot about volume and speed. When he moved back to Australia, he worked in a couple of wine bars and eventually started to learn about cocktail bartending working in fine-dining restaurants. After some time, Reece decided to fly to Canada for what was supposed to be a six months winter trip. Obviously, life got in the way and he’s still here a
few years later, now married to a Canadian. Upon his arrival, he landed in Vancouver and made his way through the Rockies. He stopped in Calgary, got a job at one of the best cocktail bars in the country, and has been working there since.
Reece always wanted to explore the many facets of the bartending world. After working in many different types of bars, his latest years at Proof helped him polish what he believes bartending is and making cocktails are. He also got into the world of cocktail competitions, which have taught him a great deal and definitely helped him grow within the community. He believes in learning through collaboration and is always keen to make himself available to share his knowledge and bounce ideas with. If you have a chance to visit Calgary, we highly recommend you pay him a visit. His bar program is one of the best across the country and the back bar is sure to make you want to stare at it for the entire duration of your stay.
A little bit more about Reece...
The three words that describe him best: fun – loud – expressive
Something he hasn’t done on his life to-do list: Travel more. Go to Eastern Europe, South-East Asia, Mexico, and more.
What he appreciates most when he sits at a bar: The feel of homeliness. When you sit at a bar and you feel like you are in your home bar and that you are being taken care of.
His advice for younger bartenders: Before you start and build cocktails trying to break the mold, study the basics, understand the fundamentals and develop your own style after. Learn about the classics as much as you can, learn about spirits as a whole, and how to use them rather than just throwing it all together without understanding.