Kurt Schlechter, co-owner of Cause Effect Cocktail Kitchen in Cape Town, South Africa, has launched the Cocktail Culture Club, providing an educational platform for both drinks-industry professionals and general cocktail enthusiasts.
Industry networking and skill-upliftment events, once commonplace at venues around the country, came to an abrupt halt with the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020.
The club aims to revitalise the drinks community following an exceptionally tough last year – which included their livelihoods being obstructed by alcohol bans – providing downtrodden bartenders and brands with much needed hope.
“The South African bar scene is not back on track yet. We have a while to go before we can say it’s stable again, but it’s time to dust ourselves off and remember who we are,” said Schlechter.
Additionally, the club caters to a rising interest in home bartending, a by-product of bars being forcibly shuttered.
“We hosts evenings of cocktail history and fine spirits, presented by passionate industry professionals,” explained Schlechter.
“Each time, there are three guest speakers: two are bartenders who will discuss cocktail topics of their choice, and one will be a distiller or brand ambassador who teaches us about his or her brand. It’s open to anybody who’s committed to do the research and present a PowerPoint,” he continued.
The talks, while instructive, are informal, with discounted cocktails for attendees.
The Cocktail Culture Club is attached to the KG Schlechter Bartender Enrichment Fund, which aims to send a local bartender abroad every year, allowing them the opportunity to learn from – and network with – the global drinks community.
“This year we’re hoping to send one bartender to London Cocktail Week. Only bartenders that attend Cocktail Culture Club may apply for the prize,” Schlechter revealed.
Proceeds from cocktail sales on the evenings go towards the fund, and additional donations from brands (or individuals) are welcome.
Topics and speakers to date have included:
“The Suffering Bastard cocktail and the South African link” by Kurt Schlechter
“Absinthe, Slivovica plum spirit and gin of Franschhoek Distillery” by Jonathan Lermer
“Death in the Afternoon cocktail – bullfighting or just bull?” by Cassandra Eichhoff
“Alter Schwede, Oxenstierner and other cool products of Blomendahl Distillery” by Frans Blomendahl
“The Hanky Panky cocktail: Ada Coleman at her best” by Franco Hartzner
“Hope Distillery’s brand new Rhum Agricole” by Leigh Lisk
The Cocktail Culture Club gathers every second Tuesday at Cause Effect, which was voted number 75 in the long list of The World’s 50 Best Bars.
For a line-up of future events, keep an eye on the venue’s Facebook and Instagram pages. To request to be a speaker, or to make a donation to the fund, email Kurt at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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