That Extra Dash with Peter Lebese

We spoke to Peter Lebese, the Angostura Global Cocktail Challenge 2020 SA National runner up and a true mastermind behind the bar, as Angostura’s That Extra Dash series takes an in-depth look at the rise of some of SA’s top bartenders. 

Peter has bartended from South Africa to the States and has entered many competitions across the globe: Patron Perfectionist, Havana Club Grand Prix, Beefeater National, Diageo World Class and BOLS Global. Most recently he won the Social Media Award at the B.A.R Awards 2019.

Peter, how did you get started in the industry?

First, from my dad, he managed a tennis club in Joburg and on weekends we would open the bar for the groundkeepers and other local workers. This is my first memory of the fun and excitement of being behind the bar.

Who has been a major mentor throughout your career?

I have been lucky to be influenced by many industry kings. From Kurt Schlechter making me realise my potential in the industry and convincing me to go overseas, to Owen O’ Reilly who’s always pushing me to do better. It also doesn’t hurt to have friends like Rudy de Vos, Jody Rahme, Julian Short, Alex Farenheim, Cass Eichhoff and Devin Cross… the list can go on as I feel my peers in the industry had a lot to do with my growth.

 That Extra Dash with Peter Lebese

And what are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learnt along the way?

To be true to myself and find who I am in order to find my way within the industry. 

Do you have any advice for rookie bartenders?

Never forget that the grassroots is where we all start and if you do that well then the rest will become simpler. Don’t be afraid to show who you are, your true self and with that, you will be the best in your lane!

Peter, what are you up to now?

I am currently the beverage and cocktail developer for the team at SIP Exclusive and what a ride it is, I tell you.

So, you’ve just competed in the Angostura Global Cocktail Challenge 2020…

Tell us, what was your first encounter with bitters?

My mom would make this cough elixir whenever I was getting a cold and she would throw a few dashes of this bitter stuff in it, I was about 15 or 16 and all I would say was – WOW!

And Angostura aromatic bitters specifically?

My love for Angostura bitters came after my first Trinidad Sour in the Bahamas. That’s where I realized there is more to the liquid besides dashing. 

Which is your absolute favourite bittered cocktail?

Trinidad Sour.

Can you finish the sentence: My extra dash would be… a smile and good vibe.

Then, for the competition you had to create two original cocktails using the House of Angostura’s exclusive range of Rums and Amaro ingredients not yet available in South Africa. Can you share your two winning AGCC 2020 recipes with us?

I named my Angostura Rum cocktail ‘Lustful Muse’

 That Extra Dash with Peter Lebese

Lustful Muse

Ingredients

  • 50ml Angostura 5 year old Rum
  • 50ml granadilla & vanilla purée (fine strained fresh granadilla and vanilla syrup)
  • 32,5ml citrus coffee (coffee and Angostura orange bitters placed in bottle and shaken)
  • 15ml cherry herring
  • Ice
  • Edible flowers
  • Rum chio cookie

Instructions

Fine strain 35ml from fresh granadilla and add 15ml vanilla syrup for the granadilla and vanilla purée). Separately, take 25ml coffee and 7,5ml angostura orange bitters, place in bottle and shake – this is for the citrus coffee. Add both mixtures in a shaker with ice, add rum and cherry herring. Then shake, roll and fine strain into a tumbler with a block of ice. Garnish with edible flowers and rum chio cookie.

My Amaro di Angostura cocktail was called ‘Butterfly Kisses’

 That Extra Dash with Peter Lebese

Butterfly Kisses

Ingredients

  • 50ml Amaro di Angostura
  • Angostura aromatic bitters
  • 25ml cold brew espresso
  • 12ml pink and red Syrup
  • Pink peppercorns
  • Lime leaves
  • Ice

Instructions

Chill an Old Fashioned glass with ice. Shake together all liquid ingredients. Tip ice out of the Old Fashioned glass, add fresh ice and strain cocktail over. Garnish with Angostura aromatic bitters-soaked lime leaves and sugar syrup soaked pink peppercorns.

Cheers!

“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.”