Serving up Fun, and Fine Wine, for Heliskiing Guests
By Lianne Marquis
I first met Karen (aka Little K) at CMH's Monashee Lodge during staff training 3 years ago, at which time she was so lit up with excitement that I knew she was a keeper. Little K can be found behind the bar at the Monashee Lodge making special cocktails, opening bottles of wine, and making our heliskiers feel right at home. Karen was also the bartender in the summer of '09 at CMH's Bobbie Burns Lodge. What is it like bartending at a lodge? Since I've never been a bartender, I thought I'd spend some time with Little K and get the inside scoop of the bartending world.
LM: I have to ask, what brought you to CMH? How did an east coaster find her way to the Monashee lodge?
KP: I was on an adventure in Tofino, BC a few summers ago and I met an amazing friend. She and her entire family have all been working with the company for quite sometime, in a variety of positions, from guide, to massage practitioner to guest services… At the time I felt I could really get used to that lifestyle, and here I am three years later, calling the Monashees my home.
LM: Karen, you started off working as guest services in the Monashees and the next year, we found you behind the bar. What were the reasons for the change?
KP: I love wine and wanted to learn more about the wine and spirit industry. I also love being on "center stage" while interacting with our guests and staff. Being behind the bar lets you know everyone’s name and their drink pretty quickly, and that is something that I strive for.
LM: What is the best part of your day as the center stage bartender?
KP: My favorite part of the day is the après ski or après hiking experience with the guest and staff. The bar is busy; I get to create special drinks, which I love. Mingling with the guests and hearing about all their sweet lines, face shots or their day on the via ferrate really is the best part of my day.
LM: What would you say is the most popular après ski or après hiking drink?
KP: Nothing says it like a refreshing Kokanee beer or a crisp cold pint of Revelstoke’s locally brewed Mt. Begbie draft beer at the end of a day in the mountains!
LM: CMH has a pretty elaborate wine list, how do you know what to recommend to the guests? What is your wine of choice?
KP: I work with one of the many passionate chefs within CMH… Chef Claude Harvey. His favorite past time, other than yelling at me in French, is cooking AMAZING meals. We work together to decide the best choices that would pair nicely with each evening’s dinner. The nightly dinner menu and my wine suggestion are displayed for the guests to see when they come back to the lodge after their day in the field. We offer many old & new world wines, so there are many varieties to choose from. My favorite wine to enjoy with my friends is a toss up between The Jim Barry McRae Wood and Alonso de Verro, both from the CMH wine lists. The Jim Barry McRae Wood pairs nicely with Chef Claude's rosemary crusted lamb with lentil stew; a definite winner amongst Monahsee heliskiers!
LM: What keeps you coming back to CMH?
KP: THE PEOPLE! I have met some amazing people along my path. Many of them from the CMH Heli-Skiing and Summer Adventures world that I have been so fortunate to be a part of for the past three years. There are so many returning guests year after year who are so eager to be in the mountains with amazing smiles day in and day out. Then there is the CMH staff… all the amazing staff that I have worked with along my CMH journey that I call family.
While Karen was working on improving her bartending skills this summer, our Food & Beverage manager in Banff was busy working with our suppliers to get the celler's stocked for Karen and her fellow bartenders so they don't run low on Kokanee beer or Jim Barry McRae Wood on your heliskiing trip this winter.
Photo: Little K doing some 'homework' on a trip to France.