Chivas Bartender Profile: Aaron Male of Brassaii

Bartending isn’t what it used to be. Hence, neither is the cocktail. We caught up with seven seasoned bartenders (who have all been ranked as some of Canada’s finest) from our favourite establishments across Toronto. All of the bartenders faced the same challenge: to create a modern spin on a classic scotch cocktail using the beloved Chivas 12-Year-Old or Chivas 18-Year-Old. We took in the art and creative process of cocktail crafting and sat down with the mixologists for a little insight into their cocktail creation and career choice. We kicked it off with Adam Teolis of Nota Bene, then featured Craig Moffat from Toronto’s Royal York Hotel, followed by Robin Goodfellow from Ursa. Last week we chatted with Mike Birdsey from Ossington hot spot Boehmer. Now we turn our attention to Aaron Male at King Street’s beloved Brassaii.

Elevator pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
I am here to serve customers the tastiest drinks I can come up with. It’s that simple.

How did you start in this business? What was the inspiration for this career route?
I was inspired by three gentlemen at the Canadian Restaurant and Food Association trade show who taught me about mixology, fresh juices and infusions. That got me going, and after that it was a cocktail competition.


Chivas 18 stands out from the crowd. What differentiates your bartending style from the competition?
Love. A lot of bartenders I know mix the drinks for the science; I mix it for the love and the passion. The key ingredient is love. If I don’t love what I do, I don’t do it. My bartending style is to get as much flavour into a cocktail using the fewest number of ingredients, but always as fresh as possible.

What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
The best part is being able to create something for a customer, and then watching their reaction and the look of pleasure that comes over their face when they take a sip of what I created for them. As for most challenging, that’s a difficult one. The hours are long, and it can be physically and mentally exhausting at times.

Your Chivas cocktail, Food Fight, is a modern interpretation of a classic Blood and Sand. What was your inspiration behind creating this cocktail?
Blood and Sand is a Chivas and orange juice cocktail. I substituted the orange juice for cherry nectar and added a tea-infused mead using oolong tea and an egg white for the garnish for a simple mouth feel and texture. Being a life-long scotch and whisky drinker, I enjoy a variation of scotch cocktails. Chivas works well in cocktails, especially this one because its flavour profile is so well rounded. I wanted to use it as the base and incorporate other flavours to highlight it. When you drink the cocktail, you can taste the Chivas, but it’s not overpowering. The other flavours hold it up. It is enjoyable for both men and women.


If your cocktail were a person, how would you describe them? 

What does success look like to you?
Being happy in what I do. Getting up every day and being excited to go to work, knowing that I enjoy what I do, and that people are going to enjoy the results of my work.

What is your most memorable moment on the job?
Shortly after becoming a bartender I participated in a cocktail competition. After the competition, I had the president of a spirits company tell me he really enjoyed my cocktail.  At the time of this competition I had only been working as a bartender for three months so for him to say that was quite the ego boost.

Who would you most like to share a Chivas with?
Anyone and everyone who enjoys it and who would like to sit and appreciate a good scotch. If I had to pick someone specific, it would have to be my fiancé and soon-to-be wife.


What to you is notable?
Notable is anything that jumps out at you and sticks out in your memory by way of any of the senses, and without having to write it down or make note of it – whether it’s food or drink or something visual. If I have an amazing meal at a restaurant, or go to a really impressive event, it just sticks out in my mind as something I’ll remember without having to try.

In your opinion, how is Chivas best enjoyed?
In a glass, neat and on the rocks. To each his own. Everyone likes his or her Chivas differently; one way is not better than the other because everyone’s palette is different. Personally, I prefer it neat, so all I need is a glass and a nice place to relax.