#rumfamily : Favourite Bar Owners-Sly Augustin
So far we have heard from people who write about Rum, represent brands and serve us in bars. Following on, I thought it would be good to hear from bar owners in the #rumfamily series of interviews. Where better to start than with one of coolest, Sly Augustin. We try to get to Trailer Happiness whenever in London and we are never disappointed with the atmosphere, service, drinks and of course Rum selection!
For those that don’t know, Sly has a background in events and graphic design but in 2012 he made the bold decision to move into the bar industry.
What made you decided to open a Rum bar?
I didn’t open Trailer Happiness, I just decided to help save it with a bunch of bartenders back in 2012.
Please could you tell everyone a little bit about your bar?
Trailer Happiness is a true one of a kind original. It’s a little bit “all things to all people” which is one of the things I love most about it. It’s a Rum focused mid-century tiki inspired lounge bar with an incredible history and a strong reputation on both the good and the mad side of hospitality.
How do you design your cocktail/drinks menu?
The menu is created by the entire team. First stage is getting everyone to create drinks based on a concept, which for Trailer is escapism. Then we all get together and taste all the drinks. We’ll either modify specs if needed or cut from the final list before deciding what to name them. The final stage is to put drinks out into the wild and see how they perform with the customers. Even though our latest menu has been completed for some time, it is still constantly evolving.
What is the bestselling cocktail on your current menu?
We have several top sellers, but the 9 Rum Zombie would have to be up there along with the Polynesian Princess which mixes Champagne and Vodka.
How has the Rum industry changed while you have been involved in it?
It’s a lot stronger, a lot more well informed and a lot more accountable overall. Although there is still a need to educate the consumer on which Rums offer the best value for money. Rum has a lot more Guardians than it did when I got professionally involved.
What is the most challenging thing about owning a bar?
The number one most challenging thing is getting a strong team together and keeping them. The second is cash flow, which can make it harder to manage challenge number one. The key thing to remember is, whether your bar is performing well or not, you need to keep your team happy. Do this and challenges will work themselves out.
What is the most rewarding thing about owning a bar?
Being able to provide a space where people can really enjoy themselves, with new or old friends. Being able to bring strangers into a place they feel at home in and being able to share great Rum and delicious cocktails with those people.
In today’s climate where we are trying to reduce waste can you suggest ways in which bars can do this?
Understand your needs. Don’t order blind because it’s easy, know how much of a thing you are likely to need and order only that. If you run out, you can usually find a solution until the next order but throwing away food, fruit and syrups should be a rare thing. I’d also love to see brands provide refills and generic packaging for high volume products.
What is your proudest achievement so far?
Working with the industry to put together a fund raiser for the victims of Grenfell.
Do you have any Predictions for the future of Rum?
It’s bright and it’s about to get much brighter. I expect aged Rhum Agricole to start making a lot more noise among bartenders and Rum enthusiasts.