This is Sabrine Dhaliwal, from Vancouver, bar manager at the Chickadee Room and Mixologist & Canadian Ambassador for Moët Hennessy.
Sabrine was born in the Netherlands and had her first birthday in Canada. She originally lived in a small town on the border of Ontario and Quebec called Ste-Anne-de-Prescott, until her family moved on a dairy farm in Saskatchewan, where she would live between 2003 and 2006. Then, she decided to move to Jasper, BC. At that time, she was studying microbiology to become a dentist. Eventually, she decided to move to Vancouver for what was supposed to be a six months trip. Turns out she still very much lives there.
Sabrine’s first job in hospitality was at a small gas station restaurant in Saskatchewan while she was in high school. Later on, when she moved to the Canadian Rockies, started working at a small resort on the road between Jasper and Banff. Starting as a day time server, she worked her way up. On one seemingly uneventful night, Sabrine was doing inventory and closing duties while her boss was having a glass of wine and doing his report. Then her boss asked her a simple question: “Sabrine, why are you going back to University?” Like most people at that age, she was going back because it was the thing to do. He told her that she was really, really good at this, that she had the restaurant mentality, the restaurant attitude. And so that question resonated in her until the summer came to an end and she decided to take a year off and go travelling. She was 20 years old and went backpacking Europe by herself. When she came back, she decided that hospitality was what she wanted to do. She wanted to create experiences, to create memories for people, to be that host.
She came back to Canada and got a job at a beer pub in Vancouver. The pub was located next to West, an award-winning restaurant now unfortunately closed. That was when she would meet David Wolowidnyk, bar manager at West, who would eventually become her mentor. But Sabrine had a few things to learn before that. She went on studying Hospitality Management at Vancouver Community College. Then started doing her WSETs. Got the opportunity to join the opening team at the Hotel Georgia, back then a new bar called Reflections. Until one thing led to another and Sabrine was serving at Bittered Sling bistro with Lauren Mote. She came in a little early for her shift one day, and Lauren came running for her. While Sabrine thought she would be fired, it turned out that Lauren heard that her friend David Wolowidnyk had an opening on his bar team at West and wanted Sabrine to apply. At that point, Sabrine had already applied twice at West. She really wanted to work there. So obviously she gave him a call, and, of course, she found herself joining the bar team at West. One thing led to another and after being the bar manager at Pourhouse and then UVA, she has been with the Juke’s & the Chickadee Room since 2019.
Oh! And if you didn’t already know, through her path behind the bar, Sabrine managed to win the Belvedere Global cocktail competition in 2015. After winning the global title, she started to work with Moët Hennessy spirits at a national level and is still doing so. Obviously, there was a lot more to be said than what could be written in a short article. If you get a chance to see her work or meet her at an event, we highly recommend you do. She’s a beast at what she does and is incredibly inspiring.