World bartender day – are they celebrating?Submitted by Jason Dreyer Dreyer
Celebrated every year on 24 February, World Bartender Day is an opportunity to toast the creative flair behind the bar. One of the world’s oldest professions, bartenders are our therapists and best friends – all the while keeping us hydrated with tasty beverages.
Since ANGOSTURA® aromatic bitters is a vital ingredient to any bar, we consulted with a few of South Africa’s best mixologists for their thoughts on the industry and how we can treat our favourite bartenders on World Bartender Day.
How has the industry changed?
Thirst Bar Services managing director and co-founder, Rael Lasarow says things have changed a lot since his first day behind the bar in the early 2000s. "I couldn’t even make a cappuccino let alone a B-52!" laughs Rael. He’s come a long way since then, and so has the industry. "Previously, it was all about speed and flair. Today, being a great bartender is so much more than that. You’re a professional, a craftsman and an entertainer all rolled in one and your focus should be on presentation, showmanship and engagement."
Ace mixologist and owner of Copper Monkey, George Hunter notes that it's not just bartenders that have changed. "Guests have become more knowledgeable and interested in what they are drinking, where it comes from and what the quality is like."
Named the World's Most Influential People in the Drinks Industry, co-owner of Cause Effect Cocktail Kitchen and Cape Brandy Bar Kurt Schlechter has been mixing cocktails since the 90s, so he’s seen plenty of cocktail trends come, go and come back again. "The golden era of bartending in 1862 is back," he declares. "There’s been a massive cultural change in the industry over the past 15 years where we’ve gone from ready-made cocktails and syrups to experimenting with our own creations." For Kurt the culture of bartending has become massively cool, impactful, and world-renowned, with mixologists now becoming almost as revered as chefs.
Cassandra Eichhoff went from being a shooter girl at a club in Windhoek, Namibia, to schooling up-and-comers on the art of bartending, in the role of director of the European Bartender School, And though lately she’s found herself behind a desk more often than behind the bar, she says it has allowed her to witness how the industry keeps evolving. “Just a few years ago, we saw more and more bartenders becoming bar owners. Their ideas and visions for cocktails have shaped the recent era of drinking, one of them being paying more attention to the sensory way people experience cocktails, rather than just having simple tasting drinks.”
The outlook for 2022
"After the last two years, I don’t want to put too much pressure on 2022," quips Rael. Though, *knock on wood* he admits that he feels like it's going to be a stellar year. "I’m sure the home-bartender has acquired a fine palate and some great mixology skills, but it’s time to get back out there and start enjoying life again (responsibly, of course). And we’ve seen that this has started to happen, so we’re excited about what 2022 holds."
How to pay your respects on World Bartender Day
Other than tipping generously for their skills, there are plenty of ways you can celebrate your friendly neighbourhood bartender. "Be a little more patient and understanding," explains George. "Don’t be rude and don’t talk down to people in the hospitality industry. Our work is important and needs to be treated as such; if we didn’t do it, you wouldn’t have cool places to hang out!"
Cassandra concurs, “Respect goes a long way. Going out should be fun for everyone!”
"Being a bartender is a skill that can translate globally but a lot of them stay in our beautiful South Africa because this is home and they want to serve," adds Rael. "They can also live in challenging circumstances so an engaging conversation and a tip to show some appreciation can really go a long way!"
For Kurt though, social media is a perfect tool to show your appreciation. "Take a snap and tag them in your post because social media and bartending is very interlinked – and, of course, tip well."
So, pull up a barstool, take out your phone, order an Angostura Sour with an extra dash of Angostura aromatic bitters, and get to know the person behind the cocktail.
For more information on the Angostura range and delicious food and cocktail recipes please visit www.angosturabitters.com.
Follow Angostura South Africa on Facebook /Angostura South Africa and Instagram @AngosturaZA for fun facts, recipes and brand updates.
Paddingtonstation PRJason Dreyer Dreyer
Established in 2012, Paddington Station PR is an award-winning brand communications agency servicing client throughout South Africa. Led by a senior management team, the agency is driven headfirst and supported by a posse of forward-thinking individuals that represent the youthful essence of South Africa today. Our size and attitude allow us to be nimble and also pushes us to be the best we can be at all times to deliver strategies and campaigns that hit the mark and drive real impact. Backed by a 25-year knowledge base and a global network, we incorporate a proactive process that is designed to inspire and shift today's consumer to connect, collaborate and communicate.