Michael W. Campbell aka “Mikey” the Cocktail Buff, has been mixing drinks since 1982, when he graduated as a certified mixologist from the Local 40 Union Training Center in Vancouver. He finished first in his class with honors, achieving the highest graduating marks ever awarded by the institution.
Michael has been fortunate enough to practice mixology and work as a chef in a variety of venues, including restaurants, bars and cocktail lounges. He holds a degree in graphic design and communications, and has written over a dozen books. He lives in Abbotsford BC Canada with his wife and daughter.
On my 10th birthday, grandma gave me a splash of ruby port in a shot glass. It was the most amazing thing I had ever tasted. At the age of 14, my parents surprised me with a wine kit and I never looked back.
While the other kids played outside, I spent my high school years in the kitchen and library. I enrolled in the high school culinary program and spent countless hours in the library researching wine and spirits.
At my first ever cooking demonstration in grade 10, I was brazen enough to bring my homemade wine to school. I made Beef Burgundy and got an A+. That same year I made a report on wines of the world. The school principle displayed it in a showcase by the front door, but not with the other trophies.
My report on wine got its own glass showcase with a spotlight on top. It was cracked open to my hand colored map of France. It sat there glowing at the school entrance until I graduated.
After high school I went straight into wine. I worked for Hobby Brews and Wine Arts, where I taught classes in home brewing and winemaking. In the evenings I worked as a chef and grill cook in pubs, bars and steakhouses.
After realizing that the servers and bartenders got all the perks and tips for my hard work, I decided to leave the kitchen. I apprenticed as a bartender under Hugh Schramm in 1982, at the Local 40 Union Training Center in Vancouver.
I loved mixology so much, that I graduated the bartending course with the highest marks ever awarded by the union. I got a huge wall-mount trophy, plus the Molson Coors Beverage Company came to the graduation ceremony. They handed me a solid silver 18 inch serving tray engraved with my accomplishment. The thing weighed a ton.
Since it was union training, I headed out and was welcomed into top notch hotels like Four Seasons, Hyatt, Westin, Sheraton, and Delta and others. I could work literally anywhere I wanted. And I did. I worked in nightclubs, restaurants, hotels and lounges.
After a few years, I had a custom bar built by an expert cabinetmaker. It was a portable dry bar on wheels, that could load into a van. I set myself up as a freelance bartender for hire. There were endless gigs, including weddings, corporate functions, private parties and conferences.
Then along came a woman, who didn’t want her man staying out so late every night. So I gave up my bartender lifestyle. I went back to college and got a degree in graphic design & communications. I graduated with the highest marks ever awarded by the college and it became my vocation.
So although I’m a graphic designer, marketing consultant and author of 12 books, my love for wine, cocktails and spirits remains. That’s why I wrote this website. I stay curious, forever learning about bartending, mixology, cocktails and spirits.
If you appreciate the amount of work that went into this website, you can reward me by sharing it with your friends, colleagues and coworkers, or by linking to me at https://CocktailBuff.com.
Thank you for stopping by and I hope see you again soon.
Michael W. Campbell