OUT caught up with Gladstone Hotel's Scott Marleau - the recently named Toronto Champion in the 2017 Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic - fresh off his win. The Cocktail Classic is Stoli’s annual competition to find North America’s Number One Bartender. LGBTQ bartenders and allies across the U.S. and Canada compete to represent their home city on the grand stage of cocktail mixology during Pride Week, June 7-11th, in Key West, Florida. Here's what Scott had to say about the competition.
OUT: Scott, congrats on being named the Toronto Champion in the 2017 Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic! How does it feel?
Scott Marleau: It feels incredible. I feel ridiculously lucky.
You were able to get an edge up on the rest of your Los Angeles competitors with a super creative cocktail, “Snow Bird”. Can you tell us a little bit about the drink, and your inspiration behind it?
I thought about Canada's relationship to Florida. I was thinking once a Canadian has money and has retired, that's where they go. So I wanted to combine the feeling of being a Canadian who gets the best of both worlds.
The Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic honors the unique legacy of gay bars as original safe spaces and community centers and the role our bartenders have played as hosts and caretakers throughout history. Tell us about what your role as a nightlife professional means to you.
I come from a place where inclusivity just seems obvious. It's a given. Why would I treat anyone differently without any context or experience? My role is similar to a concierge. I can pour you a Stoli and soda, and I can also curate your evening.
As you know, part of your prize for winning the Toronto competition is an all-expense-paid trip to Key West, FL this June. Have you ever been to Key West before?
No, I'm pretty blue collar and have travelled very little. This is an incredible opportunity for me. I'm so grateful to get the chance to visit Key West. I've been here a day and already totaled my phone, hahaha.
And in Key West, you’ll be competing for a chance to win $2,500 to $7,500 for your hand-picked charity, the The Gord Downie and Chaney Wenjack Fund. Anything you want to mention on your relationship to them, or why you picked them to represent?
This charity is dear to me. My uncle recently passed away to terminal brain cancer, which is the same cancer Gord is suffering and this foundation is what he's doing with his precious time. I feel the responsibility to support that, and feel honoured to do so.
Amazing. Well we can’t wait to see what innovative cocktails you stir up this June. Good luck, and know that all of Toronto will be rooting for you!
To keep up with Scott and the rest of the action in the 4th Annual Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic, visit OUT.com/KeyWestCocktailClassic.