That Extra Dash with George Hunter

This year Angostura aromatic bitters is following the journey of some of the country’s top barmen as That Extra Dash explores the world of cocktails and what it takes to make it in the industry.

“Angostura remains a key ingredient behind the world’s top bars by investing in and supporting the new generation of drinks professionals, endlessly excited about what the future has in store for this spirited industry.”

George Hunter 2. Image credit Julia Janse Van Vuuren That Extra Dash with George Hunter

First up, George Hunter…

Over his five-year mixology career George has taken the titles of:

#1 Beefeater MIXLDN 2016 (SA)

#3 Beefeater MIXLDN 2016 (Global)

#2 Diageo World Class SA 2017 (SA)

#2 Absolut Invite Team Edition 2017 (Global)

#1 Absolut Invite Team Edition 2018 (Global) * current title

#2 Angostura Global Cocktail Challenge 2018 (Africa & Middle East)

#1 Angostura Global Cocktail Challenge 2018 (SA) * current title

George, how did you get started in the industry?

I was working in a family run electrical wholesaler and realized that the mundane routine of a 7am – 5pm wasn’t for me.

I did a short Bartender course to see if I could just get a part-time job to make some extra money and meet a few new people. After the course, I was rejected from one or two venues as I had zero experience, but it did spark something in me – I had a point to prove. My first official bartending gig was at Hard Rock Café Sandton, where for the first few nights I was a bar back.

And what are you up to now?

I am the owner of Copper Monkey, offering professional cocktail equipment and boutique liquors. I am a co-owner of Anvil Ice, suppliers of unique ice designs to bars and restaurants. I am the bar manager of Marble Restaurant and Saint Restaurant in Joburg. And I am a brand trainer for Angostura in South Africa.

Who has been a major mentor throughout your career?

Denzel Heath invested a lot of time in me and is my original mentor; however, Gareth Wainright and Dominic Walsh have been massive influences too. 

Saying that, I definitely couldn’t leave people like Julian Short, Dom DeLorenzo, Christopher Rule, Dino Batista and Raymond Endean off the list – they have all inspired or mentored me along the way. To be honest, the list could go on and on.

What do you think are some of the most important lessons they’ve taught you?

– To be punctual, professional and respectful.

– To think outside the box and be more creative. 

– To be genuine in what you do and how you do it.

– To never stop learning and growing.

Lessons to live by! Do you have any advice of your own for rookie bartenders?

Of course! Start with the basics – learn how to clean the floors, wash the dishes and tidy up as you go. When you can tend bar correctly, then you can start thinking about making fancy syrups and flaring.

George, a bit of fun. Can you please complete the sentence: My extra dash would be…

More dashes of Angostura bitters.

Oh, so what was your first encounter with Bitters? And Angostura aromatic bitters specifically?

My first encounter with Bitters was at Hard Rock Cafe when a customer asked for an “Old Fashioned” which at that stage, I had no idea how to make. I was and still am always keen to learn new things, so I asked a more experienced barman to show me the process. Angus taught me the way he made his, with a touch of soda, raw sugar, bourbon and, naturally, Angostura aromatic bitters.

In the spirit of creativity, George has created two new bittered drinks for the cocktail lovers out there, and here’s how they’re made

Hurricane 

Hurricane That Extra Dash with George Hunter
  • 50ml rum
  • 25ml orange juice
  • 25ml pineapple juice
  • 25ml passionfruit syrup
  • 15ml lime juice
  • 10ml grenadine
  • Ice
  • Angostura aromatic bitters

Shake all ingredients except the Angostura aromatic bitters. Add ice to highball glass and strain mix over ice. Float Angostura aromatic bitters on top to taste. Garnish with orange slice, pineapple leaves and an edible flower.

Cuba Libre

Cuba Libre That Extra Dash with George Hunter
  • 50ml rum
  • Angostura ice cubes
  • 2 lime wedges
  • Coca-Cola

Muddle lime wedges in a highball glass and build with Angostura ice cubes and rum, topped off with Coca-Cola.

Enjoy!