Bar Sazerac was established in 2016 and is located on Hamilton’s trendy James Street North. Founded by Kyle Ferreira, Sazerac is named after a classic New Orleans cocktail. The spirits on the menu are anything but ordinary, featuring concoctions of 8-year Bacardi (Rum Rum Cynar), Gustav Dill vodka (Primrose Path), and aged Knob Creek (Barrel-Aged Old Fashioned).
Being raised in Hamilton, Kyle spent some time in Toronto to learn more about culinary arts, beer, and spirits. He wanted to share what he learned during his time in Toronto. ” I started Bar Sazerac when my business partner at the time wanted to open a wine bar. As much as I enjoy wine, I’m not as well-versed in it as I am in beers and spirits. Wine is also perishable, so I suggested a cocktail bar. I didn’t want to be the face of a wine bar”.
Kyle prioritizes Creativity and uniqueness in his food and drink menu and takes an exciting approach that opens up extensive possibilities for alcoholic beverages and their respective food pairings. When asked about the process of creating the menu items, Kyle explains, “Creativity in food and drink can be driven by two elements: either by the ingredient/flavour we want to use, or it can be driven by technique.
For example, if I want to create a cocktail with a smoking gun, I have to think of the type of cocktails that a smoking gun would be useful for”. Bar Sazerac has also experimented with different themes, making the menus a means for expression. “I also try to create menus that follows a particular story. We have had cocktail menus based on 80’s movies, and one based on Indiana Jones Movies. Those themes gave me a guideline on where to go creatively, and I made sure that everything lined up”.
The Cocktails to Go kits are what make Bar Sazerac truly special. With the help of his wife, Jennifer, Kyle was able to bridge the gap that was caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. “My wife is the crafty one of the two of us, and she has more of a retail background than I do. She suggested selling cocktail syrups, mixes, and making our own vinegars. We began doing this around the end of March last year when the original shutdown occurred”. Kyle and his team expanded their line of original syrups and mixes by creating kits that people can enjoy at home.
“After a month, the Ontario Government allowed the selling of sealed alcohol with food items. We made sure to abide by the rules when creating the cocktail kits. My wife was in charge of taking photos for our Instagram and Facebook pages. We were able to provide something that people can do themselves without having to go to the bar”.
As an entrepreneur in Hamilton’s food and drink scene, the opportunities and support Kyle receives have not been hindered by his race. Yet, he has experienced unchecked racial biases from new customers. “There doesn’t seem to be an issue with me being black and owning a cocktail bar. However, some people are surprised that I know as much as I do about spirits and beer. It is not too weird for me being a “minority”; this is the way that I talk. I have been reminded of the fact that I am black, but most of the time it does not come up. I would prefer that I don’t have to bring up my resume just to make a drink for someone”.
Last year, Kyle was featured on #BlkOwnedHamont, an initiative dedicated to highlighting businesses and services ran by black entrepreneurs. Kyle reflects on this initiative. “I didn’t even know some of these restaurants were run by black people. The work they are doing is great. Of course, the reasons that #blkownedhamont exists are not ideal because of systemic racism. But it’s good that it exists nonetheless”.
Bar Sazerac is a joint that deeply embeds culture and family into their brand. The eclectic artwork surrounding Sazerac is all painted by Kyle’s brother, Kareem, a talented and accomplished artist currently in his masters at the University of Arizona. “He is represented by Nino Mier in Los Angeles. He is in his second year of his master’s, and his series is featured in our restaurant. He loves to capture people in a way that they may not notice themselves, but the people around them notice.
If you paint people as a flat portrait, it is not as dynamic”, Kyle acknowledges his brother with pride. Kareem’s Nino Mier series was chosen to represent Kyle’s business and family history. ” The series is a juxtaposition of being black in Canada and coming from two different places culturally. My brothers and I were born in Canada, but our background is Trinidadian. So we have gone back and forth with our identities and who we are”. With whimsy, Creativity, and storytelling as an integral part of the brand, Bar Sazerac stands out as one of the most unique restaurants Hamilton has to offer.
Kyle and his team offer virtual cocktail mixing classes, as well as Cocktail to Go kits.
For more information, visit http://www.barsazerac.ca/