Incredibly, I first met South African bartender Denzel Heath a couple years back when he was at 1930 as a customer. Although we only had a short talk, we instantly hit it off and have been following each other from a far ever since. You see, Denzel is the quintessential traveling bartender. Never in the same city for more than a couple weeks, he hops around the globe doing guest shifts for his new bar Mootee in Johannesburg. His residence is actually in Dubai, where he has many consulting gigs and of course, his beautiful family. He stops by Mootee one week each month, overseeing its operation and also working behind the stick. The owner operators include Denzel, Dom Walsh and Peter Good, making Mootee bar 100% bartender owned. Mootee bar’s concept is an authentic, unconventional interpretation of modern Africa. “Africa as we know it and not Africa as the world interprets.”
Each cocktail on the gorgeous menu at Mootee has a visual representation of taste, as realized by artist Jared Hurwitz. The designs are meant to trigger an emotional response in the customer, leading them to make their drink decision. No ingredients are displayed on the drink list, with customers making their choice based on their inspiration from the artistic designs by Hurwitz. Sharing a bond with 1930, Mootee has as serious cocktail laboratory, which is actually open all night and day. This is needed because Mootee is a high volume bar, with sophisticated and time consuming preparations.
Since we first met, Denzel and I had talked about organizing a guest shift at 1930, one of my favorite bars in Milano. Thanks to Denzel being in town for Bar Italia Hub, we were finally able to pull off one of most important guest shifts in 1930’s history. Joining us in the crowd that evening were Luke Whearty, Lee Watson, Marcio Silva and Amber Bruce, the group of international bartenders I had invited to Bargiornale’s event in Rimini.
All the photos of Denzel’s guest shift were by the talented photographer (and bartender!) Anastasia Artamonova.