Smashing your Socials: Bartending in the Digital Age with Angostura

As World Bartender Day approaches, ANGOSTURA® asks four top SA bar professionals what social media means to them and how best to use it to hone their craft.

Bartending today is faster-paced and more complex than ever.

No longer is it enough to mix a Manhattan to perfection (with its dash of ANGOSTURA® aromatic bitters) and serve it with a smile.

  • The last two decades have seen a whirlwind of trends coming and going, the bar itself has become a theatre, the craft of mixology a spectacle. And social media drives an accelerating pace of change. As World Bartender’s Day celebrates the stars of our cocktail culture, ANGOSTURA® asks Nicholas Crouse, Cassandra Eichoff, Joshua Hendricks and Philip Burrows about the role socials such as Instagram and TikTok now play in their profession.

Keeping up with trends

Every bar and bartender needs to have a social media presence in today’s industry if you want to stay current. “Social media has helped to connect the cocktail world on a global level,” says Nicholas Crouse of Talking to Strangers.  “It has created a platform for us to keep abreast of the latest global trends, as well as showcase what our local markets have to offer.”

In this digital age trends change very quickly as do customer preferences, says Philip Burrows of Tjing Tjing House. “For example, the Negroni Sbagliato was created in 1972 and fifty years later a single TikTok video made it one of the most popular cocktails overnight. People have access to content from all over the world. The bartending scene has to adapt to these trends as this is what the customers are demanding.”

Driving creativity

One positive side of this constant stream of information is that you never get in a rut. “Exposure to engaging cocktail content educates me on new techniques and inspires the creation of new and innovative drinks,” says Joshua Hendricks of Fable. “And sharing my own content on these platforms enables me to network with fellow bartenders and brands, so I’m continuously working on my craft.”

Burrows agrees, “Because social media has made content and information so accessible, recipes and how to create things are instantly available. This has pushed me to want to create more, it sparks ideas every day.”

Seeing is believing

One challenge that bartenders deal with regularly is social media raising the bar on customer expectations. “The visual nature of these platforms has made presentation and aesthetics more important than ever,” says Cassandra Eichhoff, director of the European Bartender School. “’Have you seen this on Insta or TikTok’ is not only something bartenders talk about, but also consumers, which increases the expectation of the drinking experience.”

And what you see on social media through a curated lens (after hours of styling and prep) may need to be taken with a pinch of margarita salt. “Some of the ideals we see online are not always applicable to real-life service,” she adds. “So bartenders need to communicate with their customers and educate them on their style of bar or menu offering.”

Creating community

But the positives outweigh the potential smoke and mirrors of social media, especially when it comes to networking, promoting events, and building community, “One of the most relevant impacts of SM for me is using it as an easy platform to keep in touch with a network of industry professionals that I have met over the years,” says Crouse.

And it brings together a diverse crowd, says Eichoff, “Social media gives cocktail and spirits enthusiasts a place to feel like they can be a part of the industry without necessarily working behind a bar.”

Building a social presence

For aspiring bartenders starting out on their career, they share some advice: “Start early to establish a social media presence,” says Hendricks. “It will bring numerous opportunities for your bartending career. While fancy equipment is beneficial, it’s not essential; a simple cellphone camera suffices.”

But you need more than just good content creation skills, says Crouse, “Having a strong social media presence is essential but by no means the starting point. It needs to be backed up with hard work and time invested in the craft. Use the platform for inspiration and most importantly education, then showcase your work later.”

Avoid falling into the various social media pitfalls, warns Eichoff, “Don’t believe everything the algorithm throws your way – read books, visit credible sites and practice the practical skill of bartending every chance you get. Be yourself when creating content – people want to know who you are just as much as to celebrate your innovation, creation and skills.”

And use social media actively, says Burrows. “I would encourage bartenders use content seen on social media as inspiration to come up with something new. Try things that have never been done before, look at trends as a stepping stone to create newer trends and push boundaries in our industry. Instead of trying to replicate, create.”

And lastly don’t get hung up on social media stats, says Eichoff, “the amount of followers you have does not determine your excellence or worth in the industry.”

ANGOSTURA® orange and cocoa bitters

Social media swiftly brings new flavours into the bartenders’ repertoire, as was seen with the launch of ANGOSTURA® orange and cocoa bitters onto the South African market last year, which have quickly been adopted behind the bar. “ANGOSTURA® Cocoa Bitters works particularly well with aged spirits, especially in stirred, spirit-forward cocktails,” says Hendricks. “I love a Boulevardier with a dash or two of ANGOSTURA® Cocoa Bitters. It transforms the cocktail, creating the perfect nightcap.”

And the two bitters work well together too. “We make a really fantastic twist on a cobbler in our mixology courses, using Malbec wine, cocoa liqueur and fresh fruits,” says Eichoff. “A few dashes of both ANGOSTURA® cocoa and orange bitters add that extra oomph of bitter yet chocolate, citrus yet fresh to the mix.”

And like ANGOSTURA® bitters, a judicious dash of social media presence is the finishing touch to the cocktail that is the bartender’s journey in today’s industry.

For more information on the Angostura range and delicious food and cocktail recipes, please visit


Written by Marvin

Founder of many things but FoodBlogJHB FoodBlogCT, FoodBlogDBN being my biggest project to date. UCT marketing graduate, Star Wars geek and Arsenal & Dortmund supporter. That's me!

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