This is Shannon Blue Nanibush, from Ottawa.
Shannon is 31 years old and is originally from Northern Ontario. She was born in North Bay, was raised in Sudbury and lived both in Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury as a kid. She speaks English and a little bit of Ojibwe, which was her first language. Shannon moved to Ottawa in 2008 to study Early Childhood Education. However, that program turned out to be quite different than what she had expected. She realized that she did not want to work with crying babies at 6am, so now she works with crying babies at 2am! Shannon lived in Ottawa since her studies, a part from when she moved to Halifax for a couple of years to spend some time with the man that would soon become her husband. They have been back in the Capital since 2018 and now have a cat called Frost.
Shannon started in the hospitality industry in 2010. At that time, she was working in retails and had a bartender friend that offered her a way in by hiring her as a host and door girl. A year later, she was a server and started to grab a couple of shifts a week behind the bar. She would see the bartenders working and they seemed to have so much fun that she wanted to try for herself. Turned out it was quite a fit, she never looked back since.
However, it was really in Halifax that cocktails took off as a professional path. When she arrived in 2016, she managed to get a job at Lot Six, one of the best bars of the city. She was hired as a bar back and had to shuck oysters for six months before she was promoted to the bar. Bartending there allowed her to work alongside some pretty awesome and talented bartenders. Many people in the team were doing cocktail competitions and that opened a whole new world. Being naturally quite competitive, Shannon really enjoyed exploring this side of our industry. When she came back to Ottawa, she bartended for a little while before deciding to expand her experience and knowledge in management. She is now the manager of Bar Laurel, where you can find her on most nights.
A part from being a bad ass bartender, Shannon is also pretty involved in our community. We met when she was a Trash Panda at Toronto Cocktail Conference a couple of years ago, right before she flew to Camp Runamok. It gives you an idea. She still loves competitions and wishes that there would be more attention towards her city. Ottawa has a strong cocktail community and is often left behind. When local talents want to take part in competitions, they often have to either go to Montreal or Toronto. In a way, it makes people feel disconnected from the community and she works towards highlighting the talents of her hometown and building a better and stronger community. Ottawa is lucky to have her, she is quite a gem of a human being.
A little bit more about Shannon...
The three words that describe her best: goofy – awkward – honest
Life Motto: Never a bad day.
How does she drink her martini: It depends, she has two versions of a martini for herself.
With gin, wet and filthy dirty with an olive. With vodka, dry with a lemon twist.
Something she still hasn’t done on her life to-do list: Take an out of the country vacation. She was supposed to do it and fly to Panama before covid hit, but we all know how this turned out…
What does she like most about bartending: Getting to create something and having a narrative to go with it. She loves talking and making connections. Meeting people and just being able to talk to guests, it’s more than just about cocktails, it’s a full experience. You get to ask them about their lives, what do they like, where do they live, and then you can just be like: “here, that’s you in a glass”.