Words: Lucy Sarah O’Connell | Images: Supplied

Recently crowned as South Africa’s best bartender at the Diageo World Class Bartender of the Year competition, Travis Kuhn went on to make us proud in the world championships in Germany. He shares a little of his liquid genius, a little inspiration, and a little bit about himself.

My personal cocktail style is… Classic with flair. I love to pay homage to classic drinks and the way they were made, but twist them with flair using new techniques in preparation and/or design.

My favourite cocktail trend at the moment is… Probably highballs. I’m intrigued by the simplicity of a classic highball, and the opportunities they present to create something spectacular off of the base of such simplicity.

A trend I wish would disappear forever is… Layered syrupy drinks! I’ve never liked them. Visually, they can be impressive, but in reality, when you actually mix them together the drink becomes like a weird brown-grey libation, and the taste normally imitates what it looks like.

My go-to favourite drink is… The margarita. It’s a seemingly simple drink only containing three ingredients, but it’s also so easy to mess up. The margarita represents the golden rules of mixing, balancing the strong and weak, and also the sour and sweet. If a bartender can make a good margarita first up, then I’ll trust them with other cocktails throughout the night. If not, then it’s beer time for me.

We should all be drinking more… responsibly! That goes for servers, too – we should all be serving responsibly. No regrets in both drinking and serving, is the aim of the game.

Competing in Berlin was… The most amazing experience of my professional career. Berlin is a great city, but that’s not why World Class was so amazing – it was the people. The scale of the competition is true to its name, not just for the art of bartending, but for the level of production. It’s truly on par with other global sport tournaments and competitions.

If I were in JHB for one night only… I’d be sure to check out Sin+Tax in Rosebank, and Mootee Bar in Melville. Both are making magic happen!

Sin+Tax | 010 900 2559 | sintaxbar.com
Mootee Bar | 010 900 1399 | mootee.co.za