Dancing cocktails

Watermelon, pineapple, mangos and peaches, Sessie Shoghi  is turning the bar into a fruit shop

Walk into the Jazz Club, the hub of Cairo clubbing for young people, and you will find that the bar has been taken over with colorful fresh fruits. Sessie Shoghi has introduced fresh fruits to the club – she is on a training mission from Sweden.

Al-Masry Al-Youm English Edition: How long have you been working as a bartender for?

Sessie Shoghi: Three years in one bar. I love it. It is such a nice working environment. I love meeting new people. It is a lifestyle. Before that, I had training in some restaurants and bars.

Al-Masry: Does it get boring sometimes?

Shoghi: It gets boring when everyone orders beer or gin tonic. But I love it when a customer comes in and says mix me something sweet. There is so much room for imagination here.

Al-Masry: So you are doing this mentoring here at Cairo Jazz club. What is different in the bar, than back home?

Shoghi: The system. It is more complicated here. There are so many people involved. There are waiters, cashier, and so on. Back home, you take the money, give the customer the drink and change.

Al-Masry: And how do you find your experience in a Cairo bar?

Shoghi: A lot better than expected. I didn’t think people will be friendly and easy.

Al-Masry: Are you trying to say that all went easy?

Shoghi: Not everything, there is this attitude from some of the bar men here that drinks are supposed to look like this. They are not used to work with their imagination and create something new or outside the menu. I kind of understand it. They have their routine. It is their space. And suddenly this foreigner is coming to tell them what to do and what not to do.

Al-Masry: What did you notice about the Egyptian taste?

Shoghi: A lot of alcohol. The first day I came here, I only tasted. And I noticed that the alcohol was too strong in all cocktails.

Al-Masry: And what else?

Shoghi: Also the selection is not big enough. In Sweden, the bar menu is much richer. Also, I would have liked to see more women working at bars.

Al-Masry: The bar man was telling me that you teach them to make cocktails, and don’t give them names. Why?

Shoghi: Because cocktails are an outcome of imagination. It is hard to give them names. But, I am working on names and ingredients now. We will adjust the menu and add a new variety of drinks.

Al-Masry: Is this a dangerous job? What do you do when people get too drunk?

Shoghi: It is different back in Sweden. When someone is drunk, we are not allowed to serve them, we just give them water and call a taxi to take them home. And if a customer flirts too much, I can call the bouncers outside to deal with him. So it is relatively safe.

Al-Masry: What do you mean by relatively?

Shoghi: Sometimes people start writing their phone numbers on receipts, and sometimes, I get out of the bar at 3 am after work, to find a customer waiting for me outside. In that case, I might have to leave my bicycle and get in a taxi.

Al-Masry: Is this a full time job? Or do you do other things?

Shoghi: I go to school; I study occupational therapy and dancing.

Al-Masry: How do all these things relate?

Shoghi: Dancing is a form of therapy. And I like the job of a bartender; it is a great opportunity for socializing and meeting new people.

Al-Masry: Who was the most significant person you met at a bar?

Shoghi: My teacher, I was still studying and I was training at a bar, then I ran into my teacher at the school. It is amazing; you meet your teacher while doing what he taught you.

Al-Masry: You keep saying that the nicest part of your job is meeting new people. Did you make any friends?

Shoghi: In Sweden, it is so small; you keep meeting the same people over and over again. So when I see them at the bar, I say hello, or catch up with them, but I won’t call a guest and say let’s do something.

Al-Masry: Does the job shift your biological clock?

Shoghi: Well, I don’t need to sleep long hours. Four hours are enough for me.

Al-Masry: How often do you drink?

Shoghi: I drink only on weekends, if I am not working.

Al-Masry: You deal with extreme situations. When people get drunk, they can laugh, or cry or swear, does it scare you?

Shoghi: The worst is that they talk too much. They become open, and friendly. At a bar it is too stressful. You can’t spend time dealing with this. And yes it is scary, but I learn a lot. I see how people react and deal with situations. And I think I do a good job. They get too many drinks from me.

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