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Williston Irvine, bartender

Updated: Oct 13, 2020

This is Williston Irvine.

Will is 26 years old and is from Halifax. He has two younger sisters, no kids and two cats. He loves music. Will sings and plays many instruments such as piano, drums, guitar, mandoline, banjo, and even more. He did a busking tour in Germany, recorded an album and opened for Metric and Feist in Montreal.  If he has taken a break from music for the last few years, he is slowly getting back to it.

Will started to work in the hospitality industry at his mother’s café when he was 16 years old. He worked there for about five years before he moved to Wolfville and started to work at an English pub. He knew pretty much nothing about alcohol then, a part from the fact that he loved beer and hated every spirit he ever tasted. One day, a customer asked him for a Manhattan and of course, Will didn’t know how to make it. He asked the guest to walk him through building the drink and when he was finished shaking the drink, the result was still unpleasant but he felt very satisfied, he’d just made something there. Will loves building stuff. And let’s say that from there on, he learned how to build drinks.

He started buying books. A lot of books. He read everything he could about cocktails, spirits and so on, and he tasted everything he could as well. When he came back to Halifax, he got a job as a busser at the Agricola Brasserie. He spent his time talking to the bartenders, asking them if he could make drinks and questioning them. Then one day, they were building a new cocktail menu and he was invited to take part in the meeting and submit a few ideas. He came in with three ideas and one made the menu. A gin sour with amontillado sherry and sage. Yep, that was his first. Not an overly sweet drink with 12 ingredients like most of us. Eventually, most of the cocktail menu was his creation and he was still a busser at the bar. Then one day, he was promoted bartender. A year later, he met a guy called Jenner Cormier who was about to open a restaurant called Bar Kismet. Will thought he had no chance whatsoever to make it to their team but gave it a try anyway. And he succeeded. He was part of the team from day one.

Overall, Will went from hating spirits and shaking his first Manhattan to building a whole cocktail menu before even bartending to actually bartend at an internationally acclaimed bar in a very short period of time. His road to cocktails was, at the very least, peculiar. But it sure was an effective one! Recently, Will stepped away from his functions at Kismet to go work at his mother’s café, which was, unfortunately like so many other restaurants and bars, highly affected by covid-19.

Will is still very young and has already had quite a path behind him whether it be in the bar world or in the music world. If we don’t know what the future will bring him, we rest assured that his will be bright and successful.

For his cocktail, click here!


A little bit more about…

♦ The three words that describe him best:

punctual – focused – chill

♦ The first drink that made him fall in love with cocktails:

A negroni. Then a martini. And he never went back with the martini, he always enjoys a wet martini.

♦ A fun fact about Will:

He fell off a building.

♦ Something he has achieved on his life bucket-list:

He saw the northern lights.

♦ His advice to younger bartenders:

Don’t act like you know everything because you don’t and you come off as arrogant when you pretend you do. People don’t expect you to know everything, we’ve all been there. We all went from knowing nothing, to slowly learning to eventually knowing things. So don’t act like you know everything.

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