Rovos Rail Bar Staff

A toast to our bartenders

All hail International Wine Day! In his departure speech, our CEO Rohan often jokes about how seriously we take drinking here at Rovos Rail so we thought we’d pour ourselves a glass of bubbly and tell you a little about the bar staff on board and how they can often be the toast of the train.

Operating a luxury product can come with some tough customers so, as we are not positioned to employ qualified sommeliers, we provide regular bar, wine and cocktail training for our bartenders and ensure they know about our incredible South African offerings. The two-year pandemic gave us pause to revisit our menus and include more local produce wherever possible. In the last decade, it has been wonderful to see young entrepreneurs creating interesting wines, spirits and mixers and, with South Africa being one of the top 10 traditional wine-producing countries in the world, we have a brilliant selection to choose from. See our wine and spirit stories below.

Preparation for each journey begins in our beverage store where a dedicated on-site team pre-packs the stock required on board. This includes wine, brandy, gin, rum, vodka, whisky, spirits, digestifs, grappa, liqueur, beer, cider, non-alcoholic options and mixers. The bartenders check, count and load the stock into cages, which are trolleyed to the train. Then it’s off to the kitchen store where they check out their glassware, swizzle sticks, olives, Maraschino cherries and all the other goodies they need, which are also trolleyed to the train. Once on board, they unload and pack the bars to their liking as it is their domain for the duration of the journey. When the guests arrive, the fun begins.

Out of our whole crew, the bartenders are the most recognised and sought after as they not only serve all the guests but sit up late into the night chatting away with them. They sometimes make long-lasting connections, especially on our long journeys. We’re fortunate that we haven’t had too many raucous parties but there have been many dawns met with strong coffees and Bloody Marys at breakfast.

Our teams work hard and deserve the lovely feedback they regularly receive about their service. During one of our recent video shoots, Tristan – one of our young barmen – happened to be available so we followed him around for a while. Listening to him talk about his passion for South African wine and our selection on board left an impression on us. To see a young man so eager to learn and do his job well, and leverage the education and opportunities received at Rovos Rail, feels hugely rewarding.

So, as it is International Wine Day – and our 35th birthday – let’s raise a glass to our stellar team and all the sommeliers, connoisseurs and winemakers around the world. Cheers!

Stories: Floral Rum, Rum, Vodka, Meerlust, Thelema, Hamilton Russell, Vagabond, Mr Bubbles, Silverthorn, Fable Mountain.

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