Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront is thrilled to announce the appointment AJ Snetler as the new bartender at Tobago’s Restaurant, Bar and Terrace.
AJ is one of South Africa’s top professional bartenders and brings his expertise to the best bar in the city, with the best location in Cape Town. His addition to the team at the Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront means that on top of already offering chilled drinks, a great vibe and a breathtaking view, Tobago’s is now even hotter and definitely the place to be in the Mother City this summer.
AJ’s experience includes bartending at Georgiou’s Steakhouse, The Coachman on the Bay and SoHo Fusion Lounge in Port Elizabeth before moving down to Cape Town to work at Dropkick Murphy’s, Orphanage Cocktail Emporium, and Twankey Bar. Throughout this time he was nominated for and won numerous local and global awards and became an ambassador for global brands.
“We are excited to have AJ join the team,” says Dominique Van Wezop F&B Operation Manager of Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront. “We can’t wait to see how he brings his own flair and technique to Tobago’s. Together with the rest of the team, AJ will ensure that Tobago’s is the place to visit if you want some of Cape Town’s best cocktails.”
AJ is bringing his signature brand of bartending to Tobago’s Restaurant, Bar and Terrace at Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront with a cocktail menu set to delight crowds throughout the summer.
He shares his thoughts on industry trends, spirits we need to be seeing much more of, and what he’s really excited about right now. With his love of using local ingredients to give locals and international a real taste of Cape Town, maybe we’ll see AJ draw inspiration from his new location right next to the ocean.
Q: What made you decide to become a bartender?
A: There are a lot of reasons. But the main reason is that I have always been very interested in working with food and people. That’s why many of my drinks have a culinary twist.
Q: What is your favourite cocktail to make and why?
A: There are too many, but one of my absolute favourites would have to be a classic Negroni. I love very straightforward cocktails where you can really focus on the right balance and getting the perfect flavours out of the drink.
Q: What mixology trend are you most excited about right now?
A: The industry in South Africa in general is rapidly changing and growing. Lots of people are focused on flaring, which is a cool way of showcasing your skills. Sustainability is also a major trend locally. Travis Kuhn was recently named South Africa’s best bartender in the Diageo World Class bartending finals and will now be representing his country in Berlin. He came up with a really great sustainable concept partnering with The Haven Shelter, training people to make cocktail ingredients so bartenders can go to them as suppliers.
Q: What are some of the modern cocktail trends that you wish would die off?
A: I don’t think there’s anything that really needs to go, but there is a lot that needs to be celebrated more. Gin has been a massive trend for a while, so I think it’s time we focused on some other great spirits. We have some beautiful brandies and whiskies that deserve the spotlight. There are also some amazing tequilas out there. Locally, there’s a Karoo agave spirit called The 4th Rabbit which is very exciting. There are lots of cool things coming out!
Q: What are the staples in your cocktail-making kit?
A: I love to use anything fresh. For a while now, the whole foraging trend has been an exciting part of bartending ? using local fynbos and other ingredients creatively. I also like to explore my culinary interests, using ingredients like red peppers and coriander.
Q: What are the staple ingredients in any cocktail bar?
A: Vermouth and good sherry, definitely. And you have to have good tequila.
Q: What is your favourite spirit right now?
A: Tequila! I actually used to not be a very avid tequila drinker. It was one of those things where you have a bad experience with a drink and you feel like you can never touch it again. But we’ve made peace now. Buffalo Trace Bourbon is a favourite but I also really like Sazerac Rye Whiskey.
Q: Apparently rum is the new gin. What’s a really good rum cocktail?
A: Rum isn’t necessarily the new gin. I think there’s good competition between rum and tequila. There are a few great classics with rum. I’m a big fan of a Cuba Libre or a good old-fashioned daiquiri. You have to love tiki island-style cocktails with an overboard garnish.
Q: What are some of the most unusual ingredients that you have used in a drink?
A: Grasshoppers and worm salt. I think those would take the top two spots. In Mexico, they dehydrate worms and mix them with spices and chilli and serve with a slice of orange with mezcal (the smokier cousin of tequila). I also used the grasshoppers as a garnish once in a similar way. You just grind them up and mix them with spices.
Q: What is your signature drink?
A: I don’t necessarily have a signature drink at the moment. I made an interesting drink recently, a sweet corn sour it was an twist on a Vodka Sour. We made a sweet corn syrup and mixed it with some lime. And there you go!
Q: What is your favourite thing to drink (not make)?
A: Whisky. I love whisky. And tequila. And beer!
Q: What are you most excited about when it comes to joining the Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront team?
A: Absolutely everything. I met the guys and fell in love with the team and the venue, which is just so beautiful. It really is the best location in Cape Town. It’s a very exciting summer season to look forward to, we have some exciting things planned including the launch of the new menu, it is going to be fantastic.