- Words Notion Staff
Havana Club and Black Eats LDN spotlight mixologist, Served By Kim, in the first of a four-part series highlighting Black talent in the hospitality industry.
Haven’t heard of Black Eats LDN? If you haven’t had the chance to head down to their monthly market at Bohemia Place in Hackney, the platform is the UK’s first and only Black-owned restaurant directory, boasting 300+ vendors. Launched in 2020, it was created as a response to the lack of exposure on Black-owned restaurants in mainstream media.
Aiming to help spotlight the Black community within the hospitality industry, Havana Club has been working with Black Eats LDN to encourage diversity in bartending and championing some of the amazing talents within the scene.
At each market event, Havana Club’s guest mixologist will devise their own Havana Club-inspired menu to serve at our pop-up bar at the Black Eats LDN Market. First up was mixologist, Served By Kim, whose mouth-watering cocktail menu included a Lychee Daquiri, S-B-K Punch, and Old Havana.
We had a chat with Kim, to hear about her career journey, the passion needed to work in the hospitality industry, her cocktail-making process, and being her own inspiration.
Tell us a bit about you!
So my name is Kimberley. Others might know me as SBK, which means Served by Kim. My heritage is commonly from Belgium. I was born and raised in Germany, lived in Belgium for approximately ten years and I’ve been in London for five.
How did you start and get to where you are now?
How I got here was I started my bartending career at TGI Fridays, got amazing training. I ended up levelling up and working at, I think it was a five-star hotel in Victoria, a sort of champagne cocktail bar there. To have more discipline, I ended up having an opportunity to work at a new opening for Gordon Ramsay at a Lucky Cat by Gordon Ramsay in Mayfair.
What does hospitality mean to you?
Hospitality to me means dedication. It means you can’t just come into hospitality and say, “I want to work in hospitality because of the money” because the money is not going to make you stay, you have to have real passion to work there. The other word that comes to mind is ‘family’ because at the end of the day you end up spending most of your time at the restaurant because that’s just how hospitality is – to me it’s not a part-time job, it has to be a full-time job.
What is your process when making a cocktail or cocktail menu?
I don’t really have a specific process when it comes to creating cocktails. I like to revisit or make different versions of existing cocktails already. I have this big Difford’s Guide cocktail book that I have at home that I like to go through, and when something jumps into my mind, I’m able to be like, okay I can make this [unclear] or I can make a modern version of this drink, so I just started creating. Or I go to different cocktail bars and taste different stuff, and I have like my little notepad where I take notes on how I would like it to taste or how I could have maybe done it better or different or to my taste. So I just go for the flow, there is no specific process and that’s the beauty of creating.
Who have been the most influential people to you either in bartending or personally?
This is a really hard one because being in the hospitality industry, I always thought I would be working with a lot of Black people. When I moved to London, it wasn’t the case. I haven’t seen or I don’t have knowledge about a lot of people who look like me or I can identify to, to be able to say, okay, this is the person I look up to, and I want to thrive and become at least close or better than this person, so my influential person is me because of the path I have done and my career choices and where I am now. Having the collaboration, working with Havana Club together, is any bartender that has a real passion for the industry and for creating cocktails, is one of the goals. So yeah, I am my influential person.
Is there anyone you’d like to give a shoutout to?
First of all, shoutout to Liam, which made this happen for me today. He spotted me at the Be Inclusive hospitality event that was dedicated to promoting and valuing Black women within the hospitality industry. That’s also where I met Black Eats LDN, a lovely guy, he came and spotted me as well obviously [laughs]. Shoutout to Notion, you know, thank you very much for taking the time and being here for me today, and Havana Club for coming up with this brilliant idea of valuing and shining the light on Black creators and Black businesses within the hospitality industry, so thank you.