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Home » Industry Trends » Who runs the world? Our leading African lady bartenders

Who runs the world? Our leading African lady bartenders

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We catch up with a few industry leading female bartenders for women’s month

In the spirit of Women’s month this August, we thought we’d catch up with a few of our African industry leading female bartenders and get some inspiration from behind the stick with these lovely lasses and get to know them a little better.

Cassandra Eichhoff

Cassandra Eichhoff

Cassandra Eichhoff doing her thing with ice.

A quick tale of how you became a bartender?

While studying Event Management in 2010, I had the opportunity to intern with Thirst Bar Services in Cape Town for 2 months and learned what the liquid side of life was all about. Shortly thereafter, I was hired as an Event & Staff Manager and realised the only way I could manage a bunch of bartenders was by becoming one myself. I got hooked and never looked back.

What are your thoughts on the industry currently and where you would like to see it in the next 5 years?

South Africa is getting more attention from the global scene, as we continue to follow and sometimes take global trends and make them our own.

We have extremely talented bartenders, some who strive to become known on an international level and others who are comfortable keeping it local. Cocktail bar owners have realised the importance of efficient bar setups and are involving bartenders to run portions of their businesses or at least have experienced bartenders conceptualise the bar setup & menus.

Alcohol brands have also joined the party by rewarding loyal bartenders as unofficial “official” ambassadors, which in return incentivises the rookies to see the potential a career in bartender has to offer.

I believe we still have a bit of fine tuning to do within our tight community of industry professionals, mainly looking at the our generation differences and combining the values of old school with the ideas of new school. Some of the new team players are intimidated by the experienced ones and need a bigger push and better guidance on how to get more involved in what we do. In saying that, the global employment system of becoming a bar back and earning your right as a bartender is not only beneficial and an investment, but also helps build confidence, passion and character for those who want to take our industry serious.

Your cocktail choice when trying to impress someone?

Blaze it up 😉 any blazed drink instantly gets the attention of the crowd.

If you were an animal, what would you be?

Miauw – need I say more?

Shaken or stirred?

I’ve grown extremely fond of spirit forward drinks, so stirred it is.

What is the last drink you made?

A fragrant Hot Toddy at a wedding in Piketberg. It literally saved lives, we almost froze to death!

What tips do you have for aspiring bartenders?

Being part of the hospitality industry is not only a career choice, but also a way of life – that doesn’t mean you need to be part of every master class, party every night and become everyone’s best friend. Find that one person that you look up to, feed off their inspiration and allow them to mentor you until you can decide what type of bartender you want to become.

Never miss an opportunity to learn something new and accept the challenges that come along with it – knowledge is power and experience is wealth. It will never be as glamorous as you hope it will be and there will be times you feel like giving up, but I can promise you one thing, that after working hard, staying humble and finding your direction, the reward is much more than any kind of money can buy.

Yvonne

A quick tale of how you became a bartender?  

Yvonne

Yvonne in action

I started off as a waitress but I was always in the bar and the manager finally gave up on me and asked me to work behind the bar and never leave.

What are your thoughts on the industry currently and where you would like to see it in the next 5 years?

The industry currently in Kenya and East Africa as a whole is very young but full of potential. We have a few good cocktail bars, bartenders and upcoming mixologists. In the next 5 yrs I’d love to see; No. 1 the industry being taken seriously like any other profession; No. 2 I’d love to see better cocktail bars, bartenders and mixologists. I believe this would in turn get East Africa recognised as a leader in bartending and the cocktail industry, not only in Africa but in the whole World as a whole.

Your cocktail choice when trying to impress someone?

My cocktail choice when trying to impress someone totally depends on whoever I am impressing. Based on what they like my cocktails will vary from individual to individual. I will get to know them, what is their favourite base spirit, do they like sweet, strong, sour or light drinks. Do they like herbs, syrups, fresh ingredients e.g. juices…..etc. and based on that i will totally blow their minds? I mean I am in the business of impressing people every day I cannot do so with just one drink.

If you were an animal what would you be?

If I was an animal I would be a wolf. They are leaders, they survive through the worst conditions (endurance); they are loyal; they put family first; they shy away from conformity and are extremely hard to tame. I believe that describes me best.

Shaken or stirred? 

Shaken any day…..with me the night is always longer and i would rather pace myself but if for whatever reason the night is short, lets stir it up!!!!!!

What tips do you have for aspiring bartenders?

Never get comfortable, never feel like you are the best. Invest in yourself and keep learning day in day out. New things crop up every day so always be a step higher. Always keep re-inventing yourself…and most importantly love and enjoy what you do.

Mia Laubscher

Mia Laubscher

Mia Laubscher shaking things up a bit

A quick tale of how you became a bartender? 

I started bartending at the tender age of 18 to make some extra money at the pub around the corner from my house. It was mostly double brandy and cokes; vodka lemonade and springbok shooters. I continued to tend bar in-between some corporate jobs (I studied Bcom accounts and tried to fit in with the status quo – but it just wasn‘t a good fit and I always ended up back behind the bar). I fell in love with cocktail bartending after doing a cocktail course with Brandon Grusd, in preparation for a new cocktail bar that was opening in Johannesburg. I was lucky enough to have mixologists like Dino Batista, Dom Delorenzo and Martin Strobos guide me. They showed me the amazing world of mixology. I haven’t looked back, since committing to becoming a professional bartender. I honestly believe that I have the best job in the world!

What are your thoughts on the industry currently and where you would like to see it in the next 5 years?

I think the industry has grown tremendously in the last 5 years, thanks to a couple of pioneers in South Africa that took the reins and ran with it. Professional bartenders now have courses that they can attend to better themselves; plenty of professional mixologists to get advice from and a healthy drinking culture with cool trends like “craft” and “tiki”, also focusing on using locally sourced products and items that are healthier for our guests, as well as re-usable and better for the environment.

I would like to see more professional female bartenders in the industry in the next 5 years. It is still a ‘man’s world’ behind the bar right now. The gents are more open and accepting to female bartenders than they were 5 years ago, but we still have a long way to go to getting 100% equality behind the bar.

Your cocktail choice when trying to impress someone?

I favour a deconstructed cinnamon smoked old fashion right now – it never fails to impress.

If you were an animal what would you be?

Chameleon

Shaken or stirred? 

Stirred

What is the last drink you made? 

Classic Daiquiri

What tips do you have for aspiring bartenders?

The best thing to do as a young bartender is to read as much as you can, about the history of cocktails, classic cocktail recipes, different techniques and different ingredients. Product knowledge also goes a long way.

Practice makes perfect! Spend 10 000 hours behind the bar. Practice your free pouring, as well as your jigger pouring. Learn how to flair. Mixology and flair is merging – master both aspects and you will master your craft. Apart from that, have fun behind the bar – it’s the best job in the world!

Now that we’ve inspired you to be like these lovely lasses, take a browse in our shop to purchase your starter bar kit.

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