Wed | Sep 19, 2018

Raising the Bar with Christal Cravador

Published:Monday | July 23, 2018 | 12:00 AM

Raising the bar was no easy feat for Christal Cravador. Through hard work and dedication, Cravador mixed things up to become the 2017 World Bartender Championship Latin America and Caribbean representative. The award-winning bartender visited our green shores for the TGI Fridays' new bar menu recently, where Flair had a one-on-one session with her. Today, we share her unique story.

Bar Coach Christal Cravador was born and raised in Trinidad. She has approximately 10 years of experience in the bartending business, six of which have been spent honing her craft at TGI Fridays in Trinidad. When asked what she loved the most about being a bartender, she revealed that for her, it was all about the interaction, both with the drinks and the people, "I like the engagement, getting to meet new people, learning about the new bartending trends, and making new cocktails everyday." Cravador's top five cocktails to mix are the long island iced tea, the mudslide, peach honey smash, peach sangria, and Fridays rum punch.

She asserted, too, that she enjoys working alongside her team, "The entire team from all three stores inspires me. Because when we come together, we encourage and push each other, so they are my motivation," she added. But it is not always a bed of roses for the bubbly Cravador. She admitted that you will find more males in her area of expertise, especially as it relates to flaring and competing, so to be a female and dominate with is not only satisfying: it's a huge accomplishment.

Since being a bar coach for the past two to three years, she explained that while the role has its perks, she has encountered a few challenges along the way, "Dealing with the male staff is never easy. Men are macho, so giving them directions, they tend to delay or take things a certain way because it is coming from a female. Also, it was a little difficult being above my peers, at first, because I moved up the rank, but it is a lot easier now. To get along at that level, I had to earn that respect and show no weakness."

Cravador remains positive, focusing on the work she put in to get to that point, "It has been a long time coming. You have to compete at bar championships, ensure that your attendance and punctuality are on point before enquiring about being a bar coach, so I'm both humbled and grateful."

She has a fun-loving personality that has brought a refreshing approach to the professional table. After participating in six competition - three at her local level and three international - she describes her 2017 win as such an incredible feeling. "It was amazing to win at that level. The feeling is really hard to explain. To go up against the best of the best, and be the best? It's incredible! They had to let me know that I won. It was a great experience," she said.

As she looks forward to her new journey in management, her advice to aspiring bar coaches is to dream big, "I didn't think for one day that I would've made it this far in this company. I recommend that you study hard, be focused, put your best foot forward, and give it your all. You have to want it, too. If you don't want it, then it doesn't make any sense."

krysta.anderson@gleanerjm.com