With such a bright career path, people may assume that Phillip always dreamt of being a mixologist. This was definitely not the case. In fact, the liquor enthusiast is a trained interior decorator. It was by mere chance that Phillip got his start at the bar in 2006. From there, he realised his innate skill, not only for serving up the finest mixes, but also he kept patrons fully engaged while they were at the bar, ensuring they had the best experience. His nickname, ‘Casanova’ was also coined at the bar. “One day while I was behind the bar serving some ladies, they told me I am a true gentleman and a real Casanova. I did some research to see what that meant and liked the moniker,” he said.
Among the many titles he holds, Phillip is the Gold Medal Award-winning Taste of the Caribbean Bartender of the Year. He described the experience of being able to compete on such a level as “enlightening”. Antoine shared, “What was enlightening for me was seeing all these teams, all these people in one arena with one common goal: to showcase their cuisine and to basically give you a taste, a feel of what we have to offer in the Caribbean individually and as a group.”
Phillip’s passion for his craft, his love of travel and his pride of his country have taken him all over the world. From Ireland to London to Canada and more, travelling to compete and develop his craft, even more, are top priorities on Phillip’s list. He noted, “I want the experience so I travel a lot...I always wanted a job where I could get to travel the world and experience various cultures,” he said. While sharing about an encounter he had with American celebrity lawyer, Sandford Rubenstein, Phillip said, “I stood proudly in a Culinary Jacket with the word #Barbados adorning my chest and it was there I felt the joy of literally taking my craft and country to new heights.”
Phillip’s patriotism is uniquely highlighted in his choice of ingredients. His selections often feature Bajan spices and other options which others might shy away from using in beverages. So far, Phillip’s most ingenious experimentation maybe a cocktail in which he highlighted the Sargassum seaweed which is occasionally found on the island’s shores and reefs. He did admit, however, that it was definitely a challenge as the Sargassum has a powerful saline taste.
As someone in the Barbados liquor industry, Casanova has a deep connection with our local rum. “Because we are known as the birthplace of rum, you can imagine that rum plays an integral part in local mixology,” he said. “Rum can be found in almost every household on the island, making it the choice spirit for any punch bowl or cocktail mix.”
Casanova has evolved from the young man who got his start behind the bar. He has sharpened his skills, widened his network and launched out on his own. In 2019, the mixologist launched his own line of cocktail mixes which have been well-stocked on local supermarket shelves. Jovially describing his elevation from bartender to entrepreneur, Antoine shared that he sees his skills as far more than providing drinks. He perceives there to be a delicate art to mixology. This art creates a unique dining experience for patrons. “I no longer mix drinks nor do I bartend. Now I simply create art and produce experiences that will last a lifetime.”
With such an exuberant and endearing personality, it is no surprise that Phillip has attracted a large social media following, as well as young people who are eager to learn from his experiences. This has earned him a position as a role model for Barbadian youth, especially in the hospitality field, which he warmly embraces. Advising that determination is but one of the keys to success, Phillip offered some words of encouragement for those who would someday walk a similar path: “Keep that passion, keep that drive and try to elevate...Read as much as you can about the history, recipes and skills of bartending and mixology.”
As the talented Casanova continues his domination of the Caribbean mixology circuit, he serves a little teaser, “Barbados and the world can prepare to be surprised.”
Cassanova’s Sorrel Punch
Like many Barbadians, Phillip reminisces on childhood days where he spent time in the garden with his grandmother collecting sorrel. “One fond memory I have was picking the pods with my grandma and putting the petals to dry,” he said, “I remember anxiously looking forward to making sorrel juice.” From these childhood memories came a cocktail recollective of island simplicity, the sorrel punch.
- 2013-2014 champion of The Barbados Food & Wine and Rum Festival
- 2015- Barbados Bartender of the Year
- 2015-2016 Winner Barbados leg of the Angostura Global Cocktail Challenge and 2016 Angostura Ambassador for Barbados
- 2018- Best Mixologist at Rum & Rhythm (Caribbean Tourism Organisation)
- 2018- Pepsi award Best Mixologist at the Embassy Chef Challenge in Washington
- His favourite cocktail is Amaretto Sour.
- His son’s name is Cacique which means ‘Warrior’ in the Kalinago tongue.
- Though a Bajan at heart, Phillip was born on the island of St. Vincent.
- Phillip was once an exotic dancer.
- Before landing a job as a bartender, Phillip considered entering the Royal Barbados Police Force.