Get to Know a Bartender: Nico Szid of The Paddock
Meet Nico. He's been shaking and stirring for over a decade. Currently tending bar at The Paddock, Nico's travels took him all over the world before he decided to return back to his hometown. Being the third oldest bar in Toronto, The Paddock is a natural match for Nico's seasoned history — there's a storied history to both. Lovingly restored to it's Art Deco grandeur, the bar has once again taken its place as a Toronto landmark — one which Nico has the gravitas to carry the torch for.
How long have you been a bartender?
I've been working as a bartender for 16 years.
Name three reasons why you live in Toronto.
The first reason is that I was born here. After I traveled around the world (through five continents and via work on Caribbean Cruise ships), I've come to learn that Toronto is great in the sense the city offers a niche for everybody; whether a business person, artist, jock, hippy, bum or whatever! Toronto has a vibrant community within each niche for you to live and be happy! I haven't seen a city that's able to offer a such a wide range of lifestyles to its inhabitants, making it easy for someone like myself that has had a problem choosing to decide on keeping it my home. The third would be an extension of the second. The diversity the city offers and the accessibility to all. No matter what you want, Toronto has a wide spectrum of options.
Favorite customer and why? (Specific person or a type?)
That would have to be Dave M., a math teacher at Centennial College. He's been a regular since almost the beginning and I owe a good chunk of my music collection to him. Can't thank him enough for that.
How do you deal with a rowdy drunk?
It would depend on the time, place and environment. If you don't think they're going to negatively affect your clientele or themselves, you can let them be. If they are or you think they 're going to be trouble, then just show them the door. No need to ruin everyone's night.
What's your favorite cocktail? (to make? to drink?)
Manhattans. To make and drink. I enjoy them way too much, and the customers love the way I make them too! It's always good to have a little pride and take joy in your work.
What's your favorite bar or hideout (other than where you work)?
There's a few bars in the Annex I love going to. Central on Markham for being able to chat to their GM and owner, a great pair of friendly dudes. Insomnia for an upscale night. The Lab for a downscale night. And finally, it's always worth while to go to The Pump while my friend Stew's working — always an eventful night.
What cocktail do you hate making the most?
Sex on the beach. Too much of a rookie order.
On your days off, we can find you (doing/at) _____.
Drinking somewhere in the Annex (see above)
RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS
Straight Up or On the Rocks? One rock.
Gin or Vodka? Gin (someone once said if you add enough flavour to vodka, you'll eventually get Gin)
Light or Dark? Dark
Sweet or Dry? Dry
With a twist or olives? Olives (part Greek, I can't help it!)
Lemon or Lime? Lime
Tonic or Soda? Soda
Labatt or Molson? The little guys.
Photos by Christian Bobak