There’s no doubt that mixology is a fine art. Mixologists elevate traditional cocktails while conceptualising new and innovative creations. They push the boundaries of taste and presentation and stay one step ahead of trends. Cape Town-based Leighton Rathbone is one of these remarkable mixologists who uses his talents to delight his guests.

For a brief moment in a single glass, mixologist Leighton Rathbone transports you to another world: complex flavours, mesmerising combinations, and impeccable presentation. It’s what he does best and why countless guests come to experience his creations at the legendary Orphanage Cocktail Emporium in Cape Town.

Before he became the Mother City’s go-to guy for cocktails, Leighton was a bartender in Durban. Fast-forward a couple of years, Leighton found himself in Cape Town and took up a job at Orphanage Cocktail Emporium. “I didn’t know it at the time,” Leighton says, “but it was an institution in the South African cocktail scene. And through this opportunity, some legends gave me a tertiary education in bartending – mixology.” Now, five years later, Leighton is one of the best in the business.

Night after night, Leighton brings to life some of the most visually spectacular, mind-blowing cocktails. For him, it comes from a love of people. “Mixology is only a part of what we do as bartenders,” he explains. “The science and creativity aside, I love being the perfect host and giving my guests the best experience. That’s really what gives me job satisfaction.”

As far as inspiration goes, Leighton says he draws from everything around him. “I think being ADD, my idea grows from wherever the seed is planted,” he explains. “Sometimes, there’s a service that I want to make a reality, and then I have to develop a drink that fits the theme. Other times, I need to use a particular spirit, and then I build a drink and serve around that.” For Leighton, it’s a mixture of research, knowledge, and experimenting through trial and error. “Everything from music to pop culture inspires my work,” he adds.

“I also keep my eye on global drink and gastronomy trends daily.”

As a part of their #LoveWhatYouDo campaign, Sweet-Orr visited Leighton to discover more about the man behind the cocktails. Learn what fuels his creativity, how he shares it with the world, and so much more in the new video here.