Parkdale couple Jane and Rudy Koas send their mixologists across the globe to create bespoke drinks – and don’t try to bring them back to town
Jane Koas has been a “professional mixologist” for nearly 15 years, most recently working for long-time New York cocktail establishment The Dead Rabbit. Her husband Rudy has worked as a cocktail consultant and head bartender.
But this June, the Koas started dating, married and moved to Parkdale. Now, however, Jane – who has big plans for the future – is in the midst of creating an entire “mixology utopia”.
And it’s not just by day. The attraction between these Parkdale natives created an even deeper emotional bond with the community and its vintage bars and restaurants, from Ghion’s and The Windmill to The Patina and The Duncan.
“Parkdale is unique because the general public sees the places that we like,” Jane says. “I’ve always been passionate about NYC but I’ve lived in LA and had to share my drinking space with other people’s establishments, and that’s a big deal to me.”
After a gap year at university, in which she travelled around Europe, Jane learned how to mix drinks from a specialist named Richard Shane, who was a “big advocate of the human palate”.
A real cowboy’s boot – then and now. Photograph: Jeff Marsh
Having watched die-hard Angelenos socialise over drinks, Koas came to Calgary, Canada, for a five-week trip. “It was my first taste of non-American drinks,” she remembers. “And I got to experience the city that was emerging for the first time, which was incredible.
“There are places, like the Diageo UK Brewing Company, that have artful simple flavours, but that have that full experience they’re trying to create: bold flavours, different, bold flavours, something different from the traditional.”
Jane returned to the UK, met up with her husband and began looking for new places to work.
Sticking to his dream of opening his own bar, Rudy has opened a bespoke cocktail bar of his own called Reform Row. “I thought it was imperative for me to be my own boss,” he says. “I love doing whatever I can to be the best that I can be to myself and to others.”
It was in Parkdale, however, that Rudy worked his way through 30 employees before closing up shop for a while to work at various bars. “For a year, I sat at home all day, working on the menu and talking to my partner, telling her what I was thinking and what I wanted to do,” he says.
Rudy Koas and his wife Jane. Photograph: Jacqueline Olidne
The result is a tiny space of very little seating, with more than 90 craft beers on tap and six to seven cocktails (all under £13) on offer. “It’s going to be very different to what anyone else is doing in Calgary,” Jane says. “It’s still going to be a nouveau western bar but very traditionalised, with an element of casualness to it.”
The Koas are continuing to build the rest of their business. “We do special events – we do a Wednesdays in Chelsea lounge and are planning drinks for a Stampede lunch,” Jane says. “We’re also developing line extensions such as coffee, tequila and, of course, rum.
“We’re also currently discussing some collaborations with well-known Alberta chefs, so that’s really exciting. And we’ve got a big truck where we can store freshly from-the-shelf spirits and some recipes to offer people.”
After months of building up their partnerships and partnerships with suppliers, the Koas have finally begun to unleash their creations. “We want people to go into the bar and not have any idea what they’re going to get,” Jane says. “It’s going to be very diverse.
“A great example of our changeover process is the cocktail we’re making for the New York Show in October. It takes two