In my humble opinion everyone should have a regular bar, where the drinks are well made, the bartenders are well dressed, and your drink is waiting for you at your favourite seat within seconds of walking in. My regular bar, which is pretty much my second home, is the Rev JW Simpson. So when I heard that one of the charming bartenders was hosting an event called ‘The Diplomat Experience’, nothing could keep me away.
An evening where, for a slight moment, we were all transported to the heart of Venezuela, a country some called “Land of Grace.” An evening of drinking Diplomático Rum based cocktails, (the Maracaibo cocktail by far the best of the night) and gorgeous Venezuelan food that I couldn’t get enough of.
Apart from the canapes and drinks, one lucky person (alas not me) also had the chance to win a vintage bottle of Diplomático, with all the profits being given to ‘Behind Bars Akademia’; a charity which is the brain child of Stephanie Simbo, one of the excellent bartenders at the Reverend.
‘Behind Bars Akademia’ has been set up to help rehabilitate and provides skills for former inmates, battered women and individuals willing to start a career within the service industry. Upon release from prison, these women will have a chance to learn a trade skill and secure a job using the new skills they have acquired.
The project, which will be starting in Cape Town, South Africa, in association with NICRO (an NGO specialised in rehabilitation), is all about giving women a second chance. Stephanie believes that every single human being, regardless of what they have done, deserves a second chance and believes that it is society’s job to push and inspire these people to take this second chance. Stephanie grew up in a rough neighborhood, where most people never finished school or were in and out of prison and felt getting a second chance was wishful thinking. She believes that her life could have been just like this, but after her own brother went to prison and no one would give him a chance, she decided she wouldn’t become a statistic. She studied hard and went to Law School, pulling pints in the evening. Although she struggled with law, she realised that being a bartender was less about pulling pints and more about being a therapist, a friend, a matchmaker, a chemists, and always done with a smile.
With these skills and of course her amazing cocktail-making skills she felt she wanted to be the change she wants to see in the world, and to give these ‘statistics’ a second chance. A second chance where Behind Bars Akademia, with the help of donations, send an ex-inmate to school in their Hospitality Rehabilitation Program.