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XX Files: Christina Kuypers from Ursa
The Standard's weekly item on Toronto's better bartenders


All images by Kerry and Ivy Knight

Name/alias: Christina Kuypers, mostly Kuypers or Kuyps to my bar family and old friends

Current bar: Ursa

How long in the business: 12 years

First drink/drunk: Black Russians with my pops

What influences me: Culinary crossover has been a big source of inspiration over the past few years. Techniques, ingredients, flavour composition, etc. Most of all I love when a chef throws me an herb, a fruit, a sauce, some random ingredient, or a vessel, a tool, an abstract idea, and we run with it. I say “we” because it’s all about collaboration. I’ve been lucky to be doing this with Nick Liu (GwaiLo) for a while, and more recently with Jacob Sharkey-Pearce (URSA).  Taste is subjective, method is not. It’s amazing to learn both from each other. There’s always a better way to get something done.

Best barfly: It used to be that guests were the greatest (mostly inadvertent) source of comedy. More recently I’d say the perversion of mixology has become funnier still. Listening to someone go on for 23 minutes about a spoon, deride a liqueur or extol the virtues of the dimensions of an ice cube…now that’s funny shit. Those are champagne (oh wait, sorry, in-house carbonated) problems.

Cinematic bartender: Woody Boyd, Cheers.  “Do you want the cucumber bruised?”  

Rules: Guest: know what you want, if you don’t, ask. Bartender: don’t presume to know what the guest wants, ask. And if it is a cosmo, make ’em the best damn one you can. Period.

Celebrity experiences: I’ve lost count. Discretion is key.

Best late-night or morning-after places:  Late night: Taste of China with chefs. 7 West with Josh Lindley. Anywhere Gord Hannah recommends.

Morning after: My local, 3 Speed.

Best /worst tip: It’s a batting average.

Favourite cocktail/beer/wine right now: A Martinez, a hoppy beer, and a rye whiskey or cognac. Thank you Simon Ogden.

Watch for:  Look out for Robin Goodfellow at URSA. He throws down solid drinks and a great jam. Stay tuned for GwaiLo

Ursa, 924 Queen St W.


Kerry and Ivy Knight write the XX Files column for Toronto Standard. Follow them on Twitter at @keppsterr and @IvyKnight.

For more, follow us on Twitter at @torontostandard, and subscribe to our newsletter.

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