World Bartender Day Q&A with Jody Francis

Today is dedicated to the beasts behind the bar, the alcohol aficionados slinging everything from Long Islands to lesser-known masterpieces that meet our thirst with flirtations of wonder and delight. Happy World Bartender Day!

To celebrate, we caught up with one of South Africa's best to ever do it, the bartender turned bar owner and South African Brand Ambassador of the Year 2019/2020, Jody Francis.

Deeliver: Clearly, at your hand by every stretch of the meaning, mixology is an art. What brought you to it and what keeps you at it?

Jody Francis: I thoroughly enjoy hospitality, creating an opportunity for a guest to experience a moment of joy is my passion in the service industry. Creative cocktail serves elevate the guests' experience and allow them to experience something completely unique.

Tell us about your very first foray with making drinks professionally.

I had been working behind bars for several years before I had the opportunity to take what was an ordinary day job to a professional level. This was behind the Lucky Shaker bar in Durban, under the mentorship of Michael Stephenson. At Lucky Shaker, we brought many innovative techniques into the South African bar industry. It's amazing how, under the right mentorship and within a passionate team that you can grow so fast and learn so much in such a short amount of time. Find yourself a mentor that pushes you.

What inspired fable?

The creative elements I developed at fable were inspired by my time working behind the iconic Inverroche Gin brand. Fynbos, creativity, art, and a touch of elegance – well, for the drinks at least. Our social media strategy was based on my cheeky behaviour. Everyone likes a little bit of cheeky fun.

Favourite cocktail right now?

Summer is all about the Paloma. Tequila, honey, lime, and Fitch & Leedes Grapefruit Tonic with a touch of salt.

Favourite local spirit? Why?

Oraga Agave Spirit. It's an authentic agave spirit that unites the flavours of mezcal and tequila. A soft touch of smoke for complexity with bright vanilla and caramel notes.

Favourite imported spirit? Why?

Pffft, come on, you know I support local. Here's another local favourite: Triple Three Distillery Pear Spirit, it's such a bright natural pear flavour, a sip feels like biting into a ripe, juicy pear.

Funniest/wildest/weirdest thing that's happened to you behind the bar?

Nude calender shoot with the fable team. Calendars sold out in 2 weeks 😉

Any advice for bartenders looking to take their passion places and compete internationally/build their own brand?

Community. Get involved with the industry around you. Network and share your passion. You're not going to be found unless you throw yourself in head first.

Your proudest professional achievement?

Winning South African Brand Ambassador of the Year back to back in 2019/2020. It wasn't just the award, it was all the hard work that myself and the brand had put in and seeing our industry recognise it, it hits different.


Your signature drink?

I've just opened my second bar in Camps Bay. I've taken the famous fable glitter drink to the next level. You get to paint the flavour of your drink, pop into Savora Camps Bay and try out the Picasso.

For more of Jody, follow him at @theblondeninja and check out Savora here and fable here.

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