Previously, Kurt Schlechter shared his vision for Cause Effect and James “Trigger” Phillips weighed in with what it’s like to work one’s dream job and co-owning such a unique—and uniquely South African—establishment.

Here, the ebullient bartender Justin “Awehwolf” Shaw touches on the philosophy and sustainable practices of Cause Effect, and explains what goes into the making of a Cause Effect experiential cocktail, the Daisy.

So Justin, how did you get involved in Cause Effect?

Long story short, I was home one day and Marshall drove up and said, ‘Look man, truth is, I really dig your creativity and your flair and we want you to be part of something that will take the cocktail industry to the next level.’ He knew I was looking to do something like that and just move overseas [for the opportunity]. But it was basically forged from a friendship and through that, I got involved in this. There weren’t any CVs handed in, because it was unknown before. And this was about four months ago, before we opened and so basically, it was by request. It was like I was headhunted.

I feel really honored to be asked to be a part of this. Because working alongside Kurt is a dream I’ve had for quite awhile. Marshall and I have worked together, actually we’ve worked against each other because we compete against each other. In the bartending community there are quite a few competitions. But we’ve always kept a good-natured jovial joust. And every time he’s in my area he comes to my bar and every time I’m in his area, I go to his. And so the mutual respect is there. And again, I’m well happy to be a part of this.

Can you describe the creative process here of developing the menu?

Well, it’s all a study in creativity so we bounce ideas off of each other. There is a training day where we all sit down around the table and we introduce ourselves to new concepts. Even the new equipment we have here breeds new creativity. There were a few ideas that were not born of this creative space. Kurt brought in all of the ideas and we developed those together as a team. And each and every person has a say in our experiential seasonal drinks. Those seasonal drinks three months out of year will then change and we’ll bring in our own unique style in doing those. So everybody from Siavash (Marshall) to myself to Kurt, we all have a hand to play in the cocktail creation. The flow on how it goes, there’s no strict rule. It’s not like bringing in base spirits and then bringing in a modifier, it’s all open and all flowing. And Kurt’s got a great saying: ‘It doesn’t take one person to make a great cocktail, it takes a few.’ You know the concept, it takes a village to raise a child. It takes a bar team to raise a cocktail.

Everybody has a different palate, everybody has a different idea and style of why and how a drink works. Balance for you and balance for me can be two completely different things but there might be a comparative component that both of us could agree on. That thing becomes the main driving force and then we build and add on to that. And having that base, we can make something amazing. You can literally make six drinks out of one idea and they can all work. But you choose the best one and that’s the one that will go on.

And there’s clearly a very strong emphasis on local product and local spirits.

Very, very strong. The idea is to celebrate Cape Town and its surroundings, the territory. Be it the ocean, the vineyards (because we have some of the best wine and brandy in the world) as well as our fynbos. Fynbos is a herbaceous shrub, small plants, we’ve got thousands of different varieties, each with its own scents and own tastes. We forage for our own ingredients. So in the ocean we grab the seaweed, and from walking up the mountain, up Table Mountain, there’s an area where you can forage. You really have to be careful. Because you have to do it within the realm of the law because of the conservation that goes on here and because of the fires that we’ve been having and the heat wave and the drought at the moment, you really have to be safe with what you do. You have to be mindful, because you want to sustainable. But being sustainable doesn’t mean you just don’t rip out plants. If you are collecting for instance a garlic root, you take out the garlic root, you cut it in half, you pop it down, cover it with soil, you water it. If you don’t have water on it then you can take a pee on it. That’s literally what the sagomas (ritual healers) say and a week later you can come and harvest that same plant again. So sustainability doesn’t just mean sustainability in the bar, it’s actually sustainability for the community and for the veld (grasslands) and the land in general.

So for us, harnessing and harvesting are important and showcasing the brandy is really what we’re trying to push. South African brandy has won ‘World’s best brandy’ for the past 14 years running if not the past couple of decades. The community in South Africa has a really warped sense of brandy, we aren’t actually aware of its pedigree and we almost treat it as just a mixable drink so something with cola. So the idea hasn’t been ingrained in us that it’s actually as good as scotch whiskey. And it really, really is. And so we’re just trying to educate without trying to preach and showcase the talents that we have as individuals and that the land just gives us.

Can you tell me a little bit about the drink you made and why you chose that?

So I’ll tell you a little bit about the Daisy. The Daisy is a play on the margarita, the Spanish word for margarita actually means daisy in English so we took that concept and put it on its head. It’s a bit of a ritualistic drink. I say that, it’s not taboo to say ritualistic, it’s just the way you consume it is playing with the different elements of the drink together and that forms the ritual of drinking it. So it’s served on a wooden board with citrus salt. We make a sesame seed and sugar glass, which you dip into your sour margarita. The foam and the viscosity are created using egg whites. We use 100% agave and the only sweetness you get out of it is a burnt orange and lemon pelargonium citronella, which is a fynbos that we have here that we make into a cordial. So all those elements along with the lemon and lime, with just a few components in it, make a really light herbaceous drink. We also burn off a sage-esque (I say) fynbos to give you that sense again of a ritual. And all those components together really give you a great experience. We don’t just make a drink for you to look at. You cover all your senses. There’s a taste, you eat with your eyes as well, you drink with your eyes, I suppose. Your sense of smell is there, the playfulness of touch because you’re interacting with it, and then the sound, the sound of the burning fynbos really ties it all in together. So as soon as you envelope all five senses, that’s a good drink. And that’s why I chose that drink to make.

So there’s salt on the side, as you would with a margarita, and it’s not just normal flaked sea salt. We dehydrate our limes, lemons, and oranges and we powder it using a coffee bean grinder and then we’ll mix that up with salt to create that citrus salt. And it’s so delicious you kind of just want to keep going back for more. Most people just put on their hands and lick it up. It’s actually quite funny to watch. And everybody has a different way of consuming it, which is really nice. Because we can make a cocktail with something in mind but as soon as it’s on that side of the table, it’s yours. You do whatever you want with it, you consume it the way you want to.

When you’re not here creating, what are you doing?


What’s your favorite creative outlet outside of this?

Before…I wouldn’t say before I found alcohol, that unfortunately found me quite early. Before I found the creative license that making cocktails gives, I was into the arts, both written and auditory. So I spent years of my life traveling the country sort of couch surfing, I was a professional hobo, just exploring music and being in bands and rapping and DJing around the country. That’s never left. When I go home, I’m always making new mixes; I’m always drawing. I write short stories for children and little poems and ditties and that keeps that part of my creative brain alive, even when I was sort of stuck in the office for a year. It only takes twelve months for you to realize that you don’t want to do anything like that ever again. And so this is my passion, this is my hobby, this is my job and I suppose when you find yourself working or when you find yourself doing a job that you love, you never work a day in your life. I think that adage is really true with me. Even when I’m home, I make drinks because my girlfriend loves the fact that I am able to concoct a whole bunch of things. She’s tasted things in my cocktails that she loves, that she doesn’t eat on their own, or would never consume unless it’s in something that I do. So there’s a trust there as well.

So that and music and life, I suppose, that’s me.

Just one more question: is there someone who guides you in terms of foraging? How have you learned to forage responsibly?

At the bar I was at [previously], was a gentleman there by the name of David Van Zyl [*]and his knowledge of plants is exceptional. Through his guidance, I was able to understand the different types of plants and then through foraging with Siavash (Marshall), he harnessed that and he gave me an idea of where and what to look for. And there are some wardens in the area who are constantly on the mountainside and they’re constantly foraging as well. They are almost the protectors of that. So sustainable and conscious foraging is not necessarily something you get taught, I suppose you do get guided into it.


Cause Effect Bar 



[*] Justin shared that since we spoke last December, he brought David on board at Cause Effect and he is a valued addition to the team.