Mixologist, Mish Chinnah of Mootee Bar is just back from a global tour encompassing Thailand, Russia and Brazil, where she mixed with top international bartenders on the acclaimed Melville cocktail spot’s Shebeen Global Tour
Having recently been recognised as one the top 10 best new cocktail bars in the world at the Spirited Awards in New Orleans, Mootee Bar’s pop-up tour was all about taking the essence of modern Africa to the rest of the world.
“We tap into our network of friends from bars all over the world, built up from years of attending international bars shows and competing in global cocktail competitions,” says Denzel Heath. “Travelling not only allows us to spread the word about our bar and African mixology, but is also an opportunity for our staff to grow, develop, learn and most importantly get inspired.”
Mish certainly has returned full of inspiration. “Networking and representing Mootee internationally was an incredible experience, but the knowledge and hands-on experience is worth much more,” she says. “Being able to see the international standard of hospitality and experience the best bars’ drinks, as well as speak to bartenders who are constantly innovating and creating, is something you can’t learn in a bartending course.” She found new inspiration and beauty in each of the cities and bars that hosted the tour. “Brazil really captured me. The bar industry is really coming up over there, much like South Africa, and the creativity and hospitality is so constant, it sparked some new fire in me.”
Some of the hot favourites that Mish served up to showcase the magical Mootee take on South African ingredients included: Port of Hope for a Martini style with peach pine and smoke, Umfazi our short and fresh Lady, a modern twist on the South African classic Brandewyn en coke, and then Koeksister Negroni made with Caperitif.
For Mootee Bar the tour is an important factor in empowering their staff. And for Mish being a woman in a traditionally male-dominated profession isn’t holding her back. “Dom once told me to never want to be the best female bartender, he always told me to want to be the best bartender. That’s something I think about a lot,” says Mish.
“Gender and race equality is a major contributing factor when we hire staff,” adds Denzel. “We are a multicultural business that shares the story of Africa – a continent that is a melting pot of different races, cultures and creeds. Our aim is for our staff demographic to be a reflection of our diverse community.”
Mish has found the culture of Mootee Bar incredibly supportive, “I’m insanely lucky to have more than one mentor. Dominic Walsh transferred his passion for bartending to me and let me know it wasn’t the end of the world when I didn’t know how to make a daquiri. Denzel is showing me how to keep focus, increase my brand and improve constantly. And Devin Cross has taught me a lot about prep and ingredients, how to manage a bar and not just work in one.” She doesn’t think there is any magical secret to her success, “I work very hard but I also work well with people, so balancing working hard and working in a team has really helped me succeed.”
With this support at home and the eye-opening experience of the world tour she feels her career is on track. “I am working towards eventually being able to consult for bars opening around the world. You need to know how all types of bars operate and know what a market wants, so being around different markets, in different concept bars and speaking to bartenders and owners was a big insight.”
And Mish’s personal favouritecocktail to make is a Ramos Gin Fizz, “A spin on a classic. I just love the drink itself, but it is so satisfying to make. The rise on the top is the most satisfying result of a damn tasty cocktail.”
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