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Hotshot Award 2023

Kate Chernoff

KATE CHERNOFF is such a serene and eloquent presence in Victoria’s elegant Courtney Room that one would assume she is a veteran mixologist. In actual fact, Chernoff is a dazzling new star in the national bar constellation, whose meteoric career rise led to a top-four finish at the World Class Canada competition — for the past two years.

When the pandemic foiled her plans for a working break from university, the former political science student used the time for a self-led study of bartending, then a deep dive into on-the-job training when bars reopened.

Her career came together like elements in a cocktail melding. From her bartender mother, Chernoff inherited stories and a craving for the camaraderie found in the hospitality community. In her radio DJ father, she had a public-speaking role model and coach. And a decade as a synchronized swimmer honed her graceful moves and personal drive. In March, at the 2023 World Class Canada finals in Vancouver, B.C., she looked like a natural. Under intense time pressure to mix technique-heavy and delectable drinks (like the Ester Jester, a deconstruction of the aromatic compounds in Johnnie Walker Green Label), she connected with judges and guests, telling the story behind the glass.

She credits her rapid ascent to the closeknit Victoria scene. Her training there has included stints at both high-volume (“I made so many Shafts!”) and mixology-driven (“a crash course in building drinks from the ground up”) bars, plus courses at Shawn Soole’s bartending bootcamps.

Her swimmer’s instinct to take deep breaths is also key. “I try to be present when I’m behind the bar. Being in the weeds is a state of mind. At the end of the night, I don’t remember what drinks I made, but I remember the conversations I had with guests.”

—Charlene Rooke

Photos: Folly Arts & Médias

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