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TOCC is an education-focused cocktail conference aimed at bartenders, cocktail enthusiasts and the cocktail curious. TOCC began in 2018 and is the largest conference of its kind in Canada. Throughout the three days there will be eighteen seminars presented by international, national and local leaders in the industry. There is also a whole lot of fun in with all the learning including plenty of Pop-Ups, tastings and fun activations. The focus of the seminars at TOCC is PUNCH:
Care for Yourself
Our first TOCC took place in 2018 as a three day education-focused conference. We flew in industry leaders from all over the world to host 20 seminars. In between all of the learning, there was a whole lot of brand activations, tastings and everything in between. In 2019 we hosted TOCC again in a similar but slightly bigger format. In 2020, we were excited to return for a third year and spent many months of work organising the conference but then…. the world shut down with the global pandemic. It was a huge loss for everyone. That year we shifted to a webinar series that took place weekly for a month.
As the world has slowly opened up to resemble a new normal, we have been paying attention to what has changed (or not!) in our industry. The underlying purpose of TOCC has always been education and we feel like never before has it been more important to have more opportunities for bartenders to learn. Because the more we learn, the better we and our community becomes.
Having said that, we have been hesitant to bring back TOCC in its full capacity. To dedicate months of work without knowing if it would amount to actually taking place. And let’s be real, it’s very expensive to run a three-day conference – especially when you are operating as an independent small business. In the fall we put out a request to past and potential sponsors to fill out a survey so we could gauge interest in supporting a conference this year and let’s just say the feedback was very mixed.
BUT, we believe in TOCC and have been hearing from so many bartenders that they want it back so, here we are in 2023 with SMALL TOCC. SMALL TOCC is a one day education-focused cocktail conference taking place on Monday, May 29th at Third Place. This day will include 3 seminars plus tasting stations, cocktails and an evening party. More information will be released in the coming weeks. It’s going to be a lot of fun!
Toronto Cocktail Conference is co-created by four of us: Gord Hannah, Jon Humphrey and Jessica Blaine Smith and Josh Lindley of Bartender Atlas.
GORD HANNAH | Gord is the Head Bartender & Cocktail Ambassador For the Drake Properties. He has worked with the Drake for 14 years, first as a bartender, and then as part of the opening teams for Drake One Fifty, The Drake Devonshire, Drake Commissary and the upcoming Drake Minibar. As a working bartender since 1992, he has watched the cocktail scene grow around the world and has seen what was once a part time job evolve into to a viable and well respected career. Education and hospitality are the pillars of his brand and is looking forward to bringing these ideals to everyone who participates in the Toronto Cocktail Conference. Find him on Instagram.
JESSICA BLAINE SMITH | Jessica is definitely the most technologically-inclined of our bunch and her Virgo nature keeps us on track. She co-created Bartender Atlas with her bartender husband Josh Lindley and she is a full-time photographer. In her professional life, she documents the lives of others. Her camera has taken her all over this beautiful world from Cuba to Trinidad to France to New Zealand and Australia. Her clients include everyday people as well as big corporations such at Tangerine, IMCO, Ryerson University and CBC. While not a bartender herself, she definitely loves a strong cocktail, preferably one that is brown and/or smokey. She also loves poutine, pilates, other peoples’ children and, of course, sitting at all of your bars. Find her on Instagram.
JON HUMPHREY | Jon Humphrey is an industry veteran in Toronto and has been working in bars and restaurants for over twenty years. He has held the title of Corporate Beverage Manager at the ever-growing Drake Hotel Properties and their expansions for close to a decade. This role has allowed him to be a key player in the evolution of many of Toronto’s best industry professionals. Notoriously camera shy, Humphrey has tirelessly worked behind the scenes with brands, businesses and charities to better the life of the working Toronto bartender. He has volunteered with various entities and has contributed to the first incarnation of Cocktail Week, The Bartenders Benevolent Fund and the Toplack Sessions, just to name a few. His hope is that by empowering bartenders with education, resources and a generous dose of his own time and hard work, the Toronto cocktail scene ascends to a global stage. For Jon, its part work, but mostly it’s for the sheer love of the game and giving back to the people he gets to work with. Find him on Instagram.
JOSH LINDLEY | Josh is co-founder of Bartender Atlas with his wife Jess. He has been bartending in Toronto since 2007. In that time he has watched the city grow from drinking slushee Cosmopolitans into crisp creations made from locally grown ingredients. He still likes beer though. Before working for Hendrick’s Gin as a Brand Ambassador he was bar manager at Campagnolo and a hired gun at Bar Isabel. He has contributed to many magazines, tv shows and newspapers with his recipes and opinions. Currently pouring at Chantecler, he enjoys being an ambassador to Toronto and talking about horror movies and music. Find him on Instagram.