A trio of veteran bartenders are preparing to mix it up downtown.
Sean Draper, Seth Van Havere and Chris Gooding will be behind the bar when To The Lost opens later this month. Located at 4916 Ross St., the cocktail lounge will feature a broad menu of new and classic drinks, said Draper, who is the owner-operator.
“It’ll be ground-breaking for Red Deer.”
Draper, who has 15 years of bartending experience, received the Red Deer Express’s Golden Fork Readers’ Choice Award for Best Bartender last fall. He’s even showcased his bottle-flipping skills at flare shows from Nova Scotia to Vancouver Island.
Gooding and Van Havere also know their way behind a bar, with 10 and 15 years in the industry respectively. The three men have worked everywhere from busy nightclubs to high-end restaurants.
“Between the three of us, our repertoire is pretty solid,” said Draper. “There’s a lot of experience between us.”
At To The Lost, they’ll draw upon that experience to mix the likes of sidecars, sours and flips, as well as classics like Manhattans and daiquiris. High-end wines and craft beers will also be available, and the drink menu will include low- and no-alcohol options.
Van Havere said he and his fellow bartenders plan to make their own syrups and tinctures, using ingredients like fresh fruit.
“People are getting really health conscious and they want to know where their ingredients are coming from,” he said.
The opportunity to utilize and advance his talents at To The Lost prompted Gooding to return to his hometown from Vancouver Island, where he’s worked for the past 5 1/2 years.
“I think this place is really going to be set apart from everything else. It’s going to kind of be the first of its kind.”
The lounge will have seating for about 50, with many of these along a 30-foot (nine-metre) wooden bar cut from a single tree. Running parallel will be a row of open tables, which Draper thinks will promote interaction between patrons.
“We want a very comfortable atmosphere in here for people, and we wanted it very open.”
Behind the bar is the original red brick that was used in the construction of the building more than a century ago. The food offerings at To The Lost will be prepared next door at the Red Boar Smokery, a restaurant that Draper is a partner in and which is expected to open shortly. Full meals will be available, as will appetizers and snacks, said Draper.
“There are going to be lots of small plates, lots of shareables.”
To The Lost and the Red Boar Smokery share the building that was previously the home of Wai’s Restaurant and Thai Gardens Restaurant. Draper said he’s pleased with the downtown location. He expects to attract downtown workers, as well as students from the Donald School of Business, and people who are shopping or attending cultural activities in the area.
Draper also thinks other members of the food and beverage industry will gather at the lounge.
Gooding said he’s looking forward to experimenting and creating at To The Lost — taking classic recipes and adding a personal twist to them.
“That’s one thing I love about this business is you can never know it all.”
Draper describes their role as “bar chefs.”
“This is like our kitchen back here.”
To The Lost will open daily at 4 p.m.