Humberto Saraiva Marques – A lifetime behind the bar

Humberto Saraiva, 35 years, 20 years in the industry, owner/bartender at Curfew.

Favorit drink: “Daiquiri with dark rum preferably Diplomatico or Eldorado.”

Favorit drink to make: “All of them as long as it is what the guest wants. It´s all about the guests experience and to make them happy.”

Favorit bar: Little Brunch, a speakeasy in New York – “I had the most amazing service in this great place.”

Curfew is located in the heart of Copenhagen at Vesterbro. Every little detail is well thought of, and the bar indicates that whoever build this, have spend a long time finding the right gadgets and equipment for completing and complementing the settings. The place itself has a history that goes way back. So does Humberto, which has operated over 20 years in the industry.

“I started out 20 years ago when I was 15 years old. I got a job in a beach bar, this was before college and just as a summer job to make some money.”

Well often that’s how a carrier in this industry starts – just to make some money. But Humberto fell in love with the job that summer, and came back the next year…and the next year…

“They had some old cocktail books. This was where I learned about old school classics. The first drink I ever made was a negroni,” he says and smiles.

From here on Humberto started pursuing a carrier behind the bar. He studied at a Hospitaly Scool in Portugal. Along with these studies, he was working as a bartender and barmanager at different 4-5 star hotels in Portugal. After finishing school he got a job on a cruiseship before becoming a bartender at the famous Gleneagles Hotel in the UK.

“We had 300-400 different whiskys, so obviously I had to learn a lot about whisky. This is also where I really started to understand and care for the detail in service. Something that I try to focus on every day in my own bar.”

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After spending 1 years behind the stick at The Gleneagles Hotel, Humberto wanted the scene to change and moved to Edinburgh where he worked at Oloroso. Here he got the chance to work with a kitchen, experiencing and learning from chefs how to pair and think of taste and the culinary aspect of dinning and drinking.

“Here I started working in 2004 and worked for 4 years. Actually Adeline from Ruby worked there as well before me. It was a great place and had previously won for Scotlands´ Best Cocktailbar.”

During his time in Edinburgh Humberto also got to work as a Brand Ambassador for Anoc Whisky. 7 years in total he spend in Scotland. This guys has been behind the stick in almost every imaginable establishment from hotel bars, restaurant bars to speak easy cocktail bars and high end venues.

In 2009 Humberto came to Copenhagen for the first time visiting some friends. Later that same year he came back and started this new chapter of his life here in Denmark. Most of you guys probably know him from 1105, where he worked for 4 years. During this time he won the Danish Absolute Cocktail competition and finished 2nd in the globals.

“I have always dreamed of having my own place. I spend 2 years looking for the right venue until this came along.”

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He looks around with a hint of pride and awe. Here is a man who has put everything he has into this place, of course he is proud. But at the same time you get the feeling that he is very humble of the opportunity to run his own bar.

“ It has been tough here in the beginning. I´m hoping that it will pick up again after the summer. Right now I´m giving it everything and trying to create a bar, where service and quality are in focus.”

With a 70 hours workweek it can be hard to find the balance between work and family time. When asked about what he does when he is not working and what his´ interests are besides bartending and running his´ own bar, Humberto doesn´t think twice,

“Family,” he says. “My daughter and family are where I spend my time off. Every day we have dinner before I go to work, which is important too. Here we are together as a family.”

Humberto and his wife owns a summerhouse in Orø. They go there to relax and spend time as a family.

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“This is where I calm down and recharges my batteries.”

Besides spending time with the family Humberto has a big passion for Vintage bar equipment and gadgets. You will know this as soon as you step into Curfew and look around you; the bartop is filled with amazing old equipment ranging from a stirring machine, swizzle spoon, shaker machine etc. Just when you get inside on your left there is a floor-to-celling cabinet in which he keeps different bartools, books, menues and other old findings.

“I started about 4 years ago collecting all kinds of bar equipment for selling and for using in my own bar one day. I find it primarily on American websites.”

“Favourits..? Huuh that´s a tough question. But I have a stirring tumbler and a crystal shaker that I´m very pleased about. Also there is a couple of original books like “The Flowing Bowl” by William Schmidt I love. It is signed too. I think I have around 30 cocktail and spirit books which all are originals.”

The list could go on and on with cocktail related gear and the history that goes along with it. It is highly recommended that you swing by Curfew and get some nice stories about some of the old school amazing equipment.

“So now what are your dreams for the future – I mean you have seen all sides of the industry and now have your own bar. What is next for you, Humberto?”

“I would love to keep collecting funny bar gear and maybe even create my own. Actually I have a cocktail shaker which I have designed myself in collaboration with a Danish designer. It is classic Danish design, soundproof and double isolated for faster cooling.”

“Curfew is still new and of course I wish to develop this place and make it successful. There is still work to be done here,” Humberto smiles while he looks around as if he is thinking about the times to come, in his very own bar.”

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