On 24 February, one of the oldest professions in the world gets its day in the spotlight. While you might think of bartending as a modern career, it can actually be traced back to ancient Rome, Greece and Asia. Below, Angostura Bitters chats with three of SA’s top bartenders in celebration of World Bartender Day.

Travis Kuhn | The Perfect Serve

Last year saw the 23-year veteran Travis Kuhn move to Portugal with his family to start on new and exciting ventures. And though he definitely leaves his mark on the SA cocktail industry and he’ll be sorely missed, he’s hopeful for the future.

What cocktail made you fall in love with the world of mixology? ‘The Old Fashioned. I made one once for a guy named Jamie Terrell at a bar called Industry (owned by Kurt Schlechter just after the turn of the century). At the time, the trend was to make over-complicated drinks using a plethora of sweet liqueurs and juices overridden with theatre and underwhelmed in flavour and precision. After serving Jamie a crushed ice Old Fashioned with muddled orange slices and maraschino cherries, he felt obliged to come behind the bar and show me how to make a proper Old Fashioned. I still use a lot of what he said to me that day, 20 years ago, the day I realised the powerful concept of ‘less is more!’.

What’s your go-to ANGOSTURA® aromatic bitters cocktail? The Dark ‘n Stormy. For this drink, you must cake on the ANGOSTURA® aromatic bitters to provide a typical ‘float’ on top of the Ginger Beer. I show no reserve for the application of bitters in this drink!

What’s your spirit animal and why? The honey badger! Not one to be trifled with, the honey badger fears nothing. It is as cunning as it is inquisitive, and its solution finding ability is incredible. Although small in stature its ambition is bigger than its size.

World Bartender Day

Bheki Khumalo | Ethos Restaurant in Sandton

The Dapper Bartender of Jozi, Bheki Khumalo has been bartending for the past 5 years and after winning the first-ever Bacardi Varsity Cocktail competition in 2017, followed by being nominated as part of the top 10 mixologists in Johannesburg twice in a row for 2018 and 2019, he’s become hot property in the industry. But it’s just the start.

What cocktail made you fall in love with the world of mixology? The Manhattan – the balance of three ingredients that on their own taste quite bitter, but together there’s a character that develops and that makes it a unique cocktail. It really intrigued me and made me want to learn more cocktails.

What plans do you have for the year now that the ban has been lifted? A project that I have been wanting to get off the ground is a documentary on the bar industry in South Africa. I’m also looking at starting my own gin brand.

What’s the key to being a great bartender? In our industry, it is so important to make yourself unique and to stand out from the crowd. So, for me, work on your signature drink and be as sustainable and resourceful as I can be.

World Bartender DayCharné Van Heerden | The House of Machines

The 24-year-old head bartender at the House of Machines has been keeping busy during the lockdown – from creating The Cartenders, a car wash service she created with fellow out of work mixologists Cassandra Eichhoff, Katlego Manyathi and Rigo Eichhoff, to expanding her repertoire with drinks and food writing.

What was the first cocktail that made you fall in love with the world of mixology? When my lips first touched the Caipirinha I fell in love with cocktails! We can say that this simple and delicious drink was my inspiration to create and explore more tasty cocktails.

What’s your go-to ANGOSTURA® aromatic bitters cocktail? It has to be a classic Old Fashioned! You can never go wrong with a perfectly served old-fashioned!

What’s your hopes for 2021? I’m definitely going to carry on writing when I’m not swinging cocktails. But, also it’s important to just to take this year day by day, making the best out of what we have and what we can do.

On 24 February, one of the oldest professions in the world gets its day in the spotlight. While you might think of bartending as a modern career, it can actually be traced back to ancient Rome, Greece and Asia. Below, Angostura Bitters chats with three of SA’s top bartenders in celebration of World Bartender Day.

Travis Kuhn | The Perfect Serve

Last year saw the 23-year veteran Travis Kuhn move to Portugal with his family to start on new and exciting ventures. And though he definitely leaves his mark on the SA cocktail industry and he’ll be sorely missed, he’s hopeful for the future.

What cocktail made you fall in love with the world of mixology? ‘The Old Fashioned. I made one once for a guy named Jamie Terrell at a bar called Industry (owned by Kurt Schlechter just after the turn of the century). At the time, the trend was to make over-complicated drinks using a plethora of sweet liqueurs and juices overridden with theatre and underwhelmed in flavour and precision. After serving Jamie a crushed ice Old Fashioned with muddled orange slices and maraschino cherries, he felt obliged to come behind the bar and show me how to make a proper Old Fashioned. I still use a lot of what he said to me that day, 20 years ago, the day I realised the powerful concept of ‘less is more!’.

What’s your go-to ANGOSTURA® aromatic bitters cocktail? The Dark ‘n Stormy. For this drink, you must cake on the ANGOSTURA® aromatic bitters to provide a typical ‘float’ on top of the Ginger Beer. I show no reserve for the application of bitters in this drink!

What’s your spirit animal and why? The honey badger! Not one to be trifled with, the honey badger fears nothing. It is as cunning as it is inquisitive, and its solution finding ability is incredible. Although small in stature its ambition is bigger than its size.

World Bartender Day

Bheki Khumalo | Ethos Restaurant in Sandton

The Dapper Bartender of Jozi, Bheki Khumalo has been bartending for the past 5 years and after winning the first-ever Bacardi Varsity Cocktail competition in 2017, followed by being nominated as part of the top 10 mixologists in Johannesburg twice in a row for 2018 and 2019, he’s become hot property in the industry. But it’s just the start.

What cocktail made you fall in love with the world of mixology? The Manhattan – the balance of three ingredients that on their own taste quite bitter, but together there’s a character that develops and that makes it a unique cocktail. It really intrigued me and made me want to learn more cocktails.

What plans do you have for the year now that the ban has been lifted? A project that I have been wanting to get off the ground is a documentary on the bar industry in South Africa. I’m also looking at starting my own gin brand.

What’s the key to being a great bartender? In our industry, it is so important to make yourself unique and to stand out from the crowd. So, for me, work on your signature drink and be as sustainable and resourceful as I can be.

World Bartender Day

Charné Van Heerden | The House of Machines

The 24-year-old head bartender at the House of Machines has been keeping busy during the lockdown – from creating The Cartenders, a car wash service she created with fellow out of work mixologists Cassandra Eichhoff, Katlego Manyathi and Rigo Eichhoff, to expanding her repertoire with drinks and food writing.

What was the first cocktail that made you fall in love with the world of mixology? When my lips first touched the Caipirinha I fell in love with cocktails! We can say that this simple and delicious drink was my inspiration to create and explore more tasty cocktails.

What’s your go-to ANGOSTURA® aromatic bitters cocktail? It has to be a classic Old Fashioned! You can never go wrong with a perfectly served old-fashioned!

What’s your hopes for 2021? I’m definitely going to carry on writing when I’m not swinging cocktails. But, also it’s important to just to take this year day by day, making the best out of what we have and what we can do.

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