Mike Norbury didn’t know what to do with himself when the pandemic first hit. He started created video tutorials showing people how to create a cocktail a day and that helped “shape” his next project — Adopt a Bartender. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)

Victoria bartender mixes new program to keep cocktail culture alive

Mike Norbury’s Adopt a Bartender heading to Fresh Kenny’s in downtown Duncan this weekend

A Victoria mixologist is trying to “keep cocktail culture alive” during the pandemic with a program that allows local distilleries to adopt a bartender and customers to take home a cocktail kit. He’s bringing his talents to Fresh Kenny’s Fish and Chips in downtown Duncan this weekend.

When the pandemic first hit, Mike Norbury, who was working five days a week at Veneto Bar Ristorante and another day at Ene Raw Food and Sake Bar, says he didn’t know what to do with himself.

“I was just like I don’t want to forget how to make drinks, I don’t really know what to do with my time,” he says.

Norbury, who grew up in Duncan, began creating videos and posting them on Instagram, called A Cocktail a Day, walking viewers through creation of a drink. The videos helped “shape” his next project — Adopt a Bartender.

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Ramos Gin Fizz and Sheringham/ Lumette Give Away

A post shared by Mike Norbury (@norbs414) on

“There’s a lot of moving parts when you have cocktails to-go, so it’s a lot more simplistic than maybe something you would get from behind the bar but nonetheless, a really good quality, creative cocktail,” he says.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: Business return up to managers, customers, Dr. Henry says

Adopt a Bartender pairs a local bartender with a local distillery, who then create a drink. People are able to buy cocktail kits, which contain a 375-millilitre bottle of booze and a recipe card.

“The whole idea is you go to the Instagram account, there’s a video of the bartender at home and he’ll take you through a step-by-step tutorial of how to put this cocktail together that he’s created and he’ll talk about his inspiration a little bit as well,” says Norbury.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: Here’s a phase-by-phase look at how B.C. hopes to re-open parts of society

He says the cocktail kits are a fun way of maintaining the restaurant atmosphere.

“The whole backbone behind what, I think at least, bartending is and cocktail culture is, isn’t necessarily the drinks,” he says. “But I’ve always found that people who will go out to these places and spend $14 to $17 on a drink sometimes — they were doing it more for the experience.”

Norbury hopes this new program will help bartenders and restaurants have a fighting chance when things begin to open again. And while he knows there are other cocktail kits out there, he notes there’s kind of a “cold feeling” that comes with them. Norbury hopes that with the fun tutorial videos, the bartenders will be able to emulate a bit of that bar experience that people love so much.

“Not only are we trying to teach people how to make these drinks, we’re trying to be very mindful that not everyone has a professional bar,” he says, adding that the videos will give people “pro-tips” to make the most of the items they have at home like using a protein shaker as a mixer or a chopstick to stir.

Adopt a Bartender features two or three different cocktails a week ranging from $35 to $45.

For more information about the program visit @adoptabartender on Instagram.

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kendra.crighton@blackpress.ca

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Soren Schepkowski is one of the first bartenders to be ‘adopted.’ (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)

Soren Schepkowski, Clayton Thornber, Baz Voy and Mike Norbury are all taking part in the Adopt a Bartender program. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)

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