Celebrate World Bartender’s Day With ANGOSTURA Aromatic Bitters

On 24 February we celebrate one of the oldest professions… bartending of
course! Though we think of it as a modern age career, bartending can be
traced back to ancient Rome, Greece and Asia. In fact, there is record of a
bartender all the way back to when Julius Caesar ruled Rome. Along popular travel routes, you’d find drinking houses where you could rest your wary feet with a mug of ale and wine. They eventually spread into towns. In the Middle Ages, innkeepers would brew their own beer and wine which they’d serve to their guests. These became taverns and pubs where locals could share a bit of gossip with their tipple.

Today, bartenders go beyond simply serving up drinks to customers. When
they’re not mixing up the perfectly balanced concoctions, they’re sharing
their knowledge and an ear as our unofficial therapists. This year,
ANGOSTURA® aromatic bitters shine the spotlight on just a few of our
favourite bartenders to catch up with them and how you can support them now that booze ban has been lifted.

Travis Kuhn

SA Bar Awards founder and owner of 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.

Q: 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!’.

Q: 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!

Q: 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.

Bheki Khumalo

The Dapper Bartender and bartender at Ethos Restaurant in

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.

Q: 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

Q: 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

Q: 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.

Q: As it is also the month of love, what advice do you give to those in the industry looking for the one?

It’s difficult when the person thinks you don’t’ want to spend time with
them but really it is because you are working. We’re on duty when most
people are enjoying their downtime. It helps finding someone who is also in
the industry and can understand.

Q: What’s your spirit animal and why?

The bear – because it looks very cuddly but if you ever turn your back on

Charneì Van Heerden

Fearless beer balancer and head bartender at The House of Machines, Cape Town

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.

Q: 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.

Q: How can people support you and other bartenders in the industry?

I think through staying loyal to your local bar and always tip your

Q: Would you say it’s a challenge to find love while in your line of work?

I wouldn’t say it is a challenge. You’ll just have to find someone who
understands your lifestyle and can easily adapt to it or has a similar
lifestyle.  It’s late nights, long hours and no weekends away! Be prepared!

Q: 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!

Q: 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.

How can you support the industry?

It’s safe to say that everyone is happy to see our favourite personalities
back where they belong, safely behind the bar making magic! ANGOSTURA® aromatic bitters 2020 Global Brand Ambassador Marv Cunningham shares how you can show your appreciation.

“Reach out to your favourite bartender on Instagram and Facebook, whether it’s offering them moral support and encouragement or exchanging ideas,” he explains. “Ask them questions or make suggestions on the types of cocktails you love and market trends anticipated now that the ban has been lifted. It seems small, but these social media interactions really help motivate them.”