When Holly Caverly moved from the small town of North Bay, Ontario to the glittering metropolis of Toronto, she could never have imagined her life today. Working in theater since she was a kid, Caverly lived for the creative thrill backstage life afforded her. This passion for design would be her ticket into the theater industry, and so off she went to study special effects makeup in the city. Like so many who come to the province’s capital, she worked in restaurants while waiting for her big break. Caverly earned the coveted degree she had chased since childhood, but by that time she had fallen in love with the fast-paced life of the restaurant industry. The theater could no longer compete.
For the last two years, Caverly has been running the cocktail program and bartending at the famed Momofuku complex downtown. She has found her creative center once again, designing menus and concocting syrups and cocktails among Momofuku’s three stories of mini-restaurants and bars. She also works as a brand representative for Aviation Gin. A typical day consists of sending emails, lunching with an Aviation account, printing menus and meeting with bar staff, bartending from 5 p.m. until the bar empties out, and then heading out for “last call” with another Aviation account before heading home. While you might guess she’s overdue for a day off, Caverly enjoys the frenetic life behind the bar surrounded by people and her spirited mixtures. In the limited time she spends away from the bar, the off-duty possibilities for this self-proclaimed extrovert are endlessly tempting.
Off-duty Holly looks like..
I try and cram too many things into one day. I always think I have time. Realistically in Toronto, you can maybe get in three things. I spend a lot of my days off eating and rearranging my schedule because I overplan. A lot of my friends get grouped together because I made plans with two people — so they’re both having lunch with me!
It’s eating. Always eating. I also have a deep love of art. I always take in a show or exhibition if I see one around town. I love street festivals too. Is that a hobby? Street festivals? I can’t miss one! Most of them are tacky and overcrowded, but I love them!
Home bar hookup
I have a bar cart. I also have ten wine crates stacked full of liquor because there’s no room on the cart for everything. I keep my most obscure spirits on the cart.
Off-the-clock cocktail of choice
I make the poor decision of trying to make a cocktail with egg white or maple syrup and whatever I can find in the fridge. When you’re home, your thought process is different from when you’re behind the bar. Sometimes I get lucky. Sometimes, not. I drink a lot of Campari and soda, gin on the rocks, and whiskey neat. My dad also makes homemade wine. I make a lot of sangria with it. My dad is the coolest, and the fact that he makes wine in his garage — I love it! He also bartends. We bond a lot over that.
Who do you trust to make you a cocktail in Toronto?
I have a lot of allergies. It can be challenging. There are a few places I trust to make me drinks so I won’t die! There is a members-only bar called the Toronto Temperance Society. You have a pass card, and there’s a secret entrance. Robin Kaufman is one of the bartenders, and he makes the best Corpse Reviver I have ever had. It’s magical! I’ve never had one that was so balanced. I’m not sure what he does, but it’s perfect.
Restaurant in Toronto to grab a good meal
Bar Isabel has the best charcuterie and selection of Spanish wines in Toronto. It’s within walking distance from my house; which is very important when you want to go out at night. I probably go there twice a week. They have this olive oil. It’s so good. I will eat just meat, cheese, bread and olive oil. It’s my ideal meal.
Lazy day wardrobe staples
Most people want to be comfortable. I am not the kind of person who spends tons of money on shoes. Give me $10 shoes — you’re going to ruin them anyway. But one time I spent $250 on a pair of kitten heels. They’re orange and ridiculous and they’re so comfortable. When I wear them, I feel like I can conquer anything. I wear them doing laundry. My kitten heels, red lipstick, and I’m happy.
The book you can’t put down
Liquid Intelligence. Dave Arnold is by far one of the coolest people I’ve ever met. His personality really comes out in this book. I can’t put it down. There is so much unusualness in it. I read a lot because I don’t have internet or TV. I’m learning Spanish right now, so that takes up a large portion of my time.
Create a character for the stage based on your personality
I’m a terrible actress. I realized that really quickly. So, I moved behind the scenes. I would base her on myself. A lot of the actors I’ve met who come in for the Toronto Film Festival or work here, their characters are much more like themselves. It’s cool. I would want my character to be based on me. I’m a very colorful human. I’m covered in color all the time. Like right now, I’m wearing six different patterns. It’s a bit out of control, actually.
If you could live anywhere in the world, it would be
Spain. No question. I’ve never been to Spain. It’s crazy to say that, but there is something about the culture, the pace of life, the color, everything. There is something enticing about Spain.
Career if you weren’t behind the bar
Party planner. A lot of what I do for Aviation is plan events. I would never want to be far from this industry. In my dream world, I would love to distill and create a spirit. A future goal, perhaps.