Raafiq September, complex bar manager and mixologist at La Vinoteca Barcelona and Café Amsterdam Bahrain, part of the Bayader restaurant management division, advises new bar talent to keep pushing the boundaries of creativity
What was your first ever role in the F&B industry?
My first ever role in the F&B industry was as a bar-back at a luxury restaurant in Cape Town called Harbour House and that is when I fell in love with the art of bartending and mixology.
Who has inspired you most in your career?
To be honest I get a lot of inspiration from all things around me, but to give credit to one person it would have to be Mochamad Fadli, my mentor who I worked with at Ramee Grand Hotel and Spa in Bahrain.
How do you view the bar scene in Bahrain?
It’s very stable yet conservative with huge potential to grow. It can be easily influenced as it is still in the infant stage.
What is the biggest challenge of your role?
Maintaining the international standards I’ve set for myself and staff and ensuring they follow through on these standards. Also helping guests understand that mixology is not just about two cocktails and that it’s an experience in itself. Every time a mixologist creates a drink for a guest he gives a bit more of himself in that drink, because his intention is to create an experience for the guest.
What is your favourite aspect of the role?
The joy of seeing the guest enjoy a drink I’ve just created and also seeing the appreciation of a guest drinking something that they have never tried before.
If you could work in any bar in the world, which would it be?
Some of the best bars are definitely in New York. I would like to work in Death & Co. or The Dead Rabbit Grocery & Grog.
What tip would you share with new bar tenders starting out in the industry in the Middle East?
Always be yourself and be proud of what you do. Never stop learning and pushing your creative limits as this is an ever-evolving industry.