Lauren Mote

Lauren Mote

Lauren Mote: Hospitality Powerhouse

22 August, 2022

Lauren Mote’s energy and drive have made her name synonymous with success in the industry. She manages to sit still for an interview with Shay Waterworth.

I don’t believe in luck. I think it’s about recognising opportunities and working hard to capitalise on them.” These are the words of industry A-lister Lauren Mote, who had already clocked 10,000 steps ahead of a brunch-time interview in the French Quarter of New Orleans. With 26 years in hospitality already, the Canadian still has the energy of a young ’tender breaking into the scene. 

Now one of the industry’s most respected figures, Mote first entered the sector in 1996 at a singing burger bar, where staff would do everything in song, reciting orders back to their guests as if it was the opening to Starlight Express. And even in a liberal spot such as NOLA, heads still turned when the Canadian broke out a chorus about Mr Mayonnaise Man. 

“I very intentionally gravitated towards hospitality because that’s the kind of person I am,” says Mote. “When I was growing up I had an equal part influence from restaurants and hospitality on my mum’s side, and artistic and creative flair from my father.” 

Talking of measures, Mote doesn’t go halves on anything. With a backlog of injuries sustained from soccer, beach volleyball, cycling, powerlifting, boxing and just about any hobby you can think of, she still finds time to express her artistic flair. 

“I still make time to paint, although when I first started the house was littered wall-to-wall with art, I can get quite obsessive.” But to achieve what Mote has in 26 years, obsession is necessary.

Having worked all across Toronto, from Starbucks to independent bistros in the early noughties, Mote moved to Vancouver in 2007 where she was bar manager at Lumière, one of Canada’s most respected restaurants at the time. However, it was her work at cocktail bar The Refinery which began to shape her career, thinking up new menus which worked with local produce. As general manager, her award-winning cocktail programme got the venue on the map and while championing local produce may be common practice today, 15 years ago it was revolutionary. 

As well as building her reputation at The Refinery, Mote was also forming the basis for her bitters brand, Bittered Sling. 

“I met my husband Jonathan and after six months we’d opened a business together. I’d already curated flavours towards a bartender’s palate, with no sugars or added colour, and I passed them to Jonathan, who rounded the edges from a chef’s perspective.”

WORKING WITH GOVERNMENT 

A recurring theme during the hour-long chat with Mote is that whatever she puts her mind to is a success, and this year Bittered Sling turns 10 and is available in markets all around the world.

“At the time the Canadian government didn’t see bitters as a product which could be marketed and sold unless it was beverage alcohol, so it would’ve been taxed to the max. 

“From 2009-12 my husband and I worked with the government to make sure we could turn what would later become Bittered Sling into a commercial product which would be affordable and accessible to both the trade and consumers in Canada. In the past, bitters have been used with added sugar and colour to transform classic drinks into, for example, a quintessentially red Sazerac. But we wanted to take the idea that bartenders are obsessed with classic cocktail design, and give them exceptional bitters to elevate them.” 

It might be hard to believe, but on top of running her own brand and consulting for the Four Seasons in Canada and San Francisco for seven years, Mote also worked for Diageo, heading up its World Class programme. In July 2017 the Canadian was named Diageo’s ‘global cocktailian’, a role which ended at the close of last year. 

“It was an amazing experience and a unique role to play. Diageo really understood the direction the industry was heading beyond just ambassadorial roles. Although I’m not sure to this day people understood what ‘cocktailian’ meant.” 

At the start of this year Mote was named global manager of programme excellence for Patrón, which sees her flex her advocacy muscles once more. “Because I have so much energy to give, I make time for any bartender interested in elevating themselves. On the other hand, my trade advocacy and knowledge means that brands want to work with me. But I have to know the brand I work with inside out and be passionate about the history and its production – I wouldn’t just walk into a bar with global spirits and tell bartenders what to drink, people already do that.”

To truly uncover all of Mote’s work over the past two decades we would need an entire magazine, and it’s her constant drive which makes all of her success an inevitability more than luck. 

“I’m exactly where I expected to be,” adds Mote. “I always knew it was going to happen because I’ve been very careful in my decisions and in the past I’ve taken on most opportunities that came my way so that I could learn what it was I liked, but also what I didn’t.” 

And after being asked about the future, her answer wasn’t a surprise. “I’m not done. Jonathan and I have so many ideas in the pipeline. You can sleep when you’re dead.”





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