Meet Mike Squire the Cocktail Connoisseur and Bar Manager at Cilantro!

Cilantro’s drink menu is a vast collection of wines, spirits, beer and cocktails. At 22 pages long, there’s no doubt you’ll find something on there to cheers with friends and complement the flavors of your food. The master behind the day to day running of the bar is the wonderful Mike Squire. Regulars would agree he’s without doubt one of the nicest guys in the industry, levelheaded and as cool as a cucumber on those busy nights. We sat down with Squire to find out a little bit more about his time at Cilantro and his career journey with CRMR.

How long have you been a bartender and what inspired you to start on this path?
I’ve been bartending for around 8 years now, I started right out of high school when I turned 18. What has inspired me to dive into this career, was being able to combine all the aspects of work that I really enjoy:  being creative, working with my hands and a passion for history. Believe it or not, they all integrate really well into bartending and of course the social side of it, I meet a lot of really interesting people in this job on a daily basis!

How long have you been working at Cilantro?
I’ve been working with CRMR on and off for the last 8 years. I started as a bus boy at The Ranche, a former CRMR restaurant, back when I was in high school and quickly worked my way up the ranks to Bartender. I then transferred over to The Lake House where I took on a Supervisor role and really enjoyed it. In-between that and Cilantro, I took some time out to travel and ended up in Mexico for a few months. When I returned to Calgary a Bar Manager role came up at Cilantro and I jumped right into it! So, it’s been a total of 3 years now.

How has the last month of work been with the grand re-opening and refresh at Cilantro?
It’s been really exciting, and super busy! Having the updated look and feel, paired with the refreshed menu has encouraged a lot more people to come in and dine with us. It’s been nice to have all the old regulars back and seeing their reactions to the interior, it’s also been great to welcome in and meet some new people who we hope will become regulars too.

What’s your favorite change or addition to the drinks menu?
I really like the theme of the new cocktail menu ‘Classic Cocktails with a Twist’, it’s allowed me to focus the menu into a more specialized area but gives me the ability to get creative with ingredients. And I think it also ties the whole restaurant menu theme together, the food and the wine and this classic Canadian Rocky Mountain cuisine we offer.

Do you have a favorite cocktail that you enjoy making and you’d recommend?
I really like to make the Rosemary Collins, currently on the Cocktail Menu.  It has a nice fresh flavor with the rosemary and lemon juice. But in general, I enjoy making the classics such as a Martini, Old Fashioned or Manhattan. I like the idea of taking a spirit that by itself might be a little harsh and combining it with other liquors, bringing the flavors together and making it something enjoyable.

What’s your favorite thing to drink on your night off?
To be honest, it really depends on what I’m doing and who I’m with. Like I mentioned before, I really enjoy the classics and trying new cocktails, as it gives me a way to taste what I’m making at Cilantro and brainstorm some new ideas and creativity for my future creations.  I also love to dabble in the craft beer scene in Calgary, especially in the summer months. We are so lucky that the scene is growing and evolving right here in Calgary. Of course, wine is also one of my favorites, I mean I’m fortunate to work within a company that has a lot of incredible wine, so yeah, it just depends on what’s going on that night!

What’s the best thing about working at Cilantro?
Probably the freedom to be creative. There’s nothing here that stops me from trying new things to see what works well. The people I work with and the staff are great, we really bond together and there’s a sense of family connection every day at work.

Describe the drinks menu at Cilantro in 3 words –
Classic, concise & imaginative.

Photos: Erik MCR