Local entrepreneur’s film on Hispanic bartenders wins award at festival

A local man’s film has won an award in Spain.

In March, Cesar Diaz, owner of Odd Birds Kitchen and Cocktail Lounge and Odd Birds Café, made his way to Spain for the 25th Annual Festival de Málaga, a long-running film festival that celebrates the best in Hispanic film. It was held March 18-27.

Diaz, a St. Augustine resident, is one of the executive producers of “El Club de los Cantineros.” The documentary, which highlights the contributions of Hispanics and women cantineros (or “bartenders” in English) to the worldwide cocktail movement since 1806, won “Best Long Film” in the gastronomy category.

“We spent three years creating this film, which, of course, was not made any easier with the global pandemic and a halt on traveling,” said Diaz. “During filming, we visited bars in five countries, including Boadas Cocktails in Barcelona, Museo Chicote in Madrid, Café La Trova in Miami, Old Absinthe House in New Orleans, Presidente Bar in Buenos Aires and the lobby bar at Tamanaco Caracas Hotel in Venezuela. We interviewed important names in the bartending industry such as Alberto Gómez Font, François Monti, Julio Cabrera, Gines Perez Navarro and Joaquín Grau. Our main objective with the film is to highlight the contributions of Hispanics and women to the global cocktail industry.”

“El Club de los Cantineros” gives an in-depth look into the history of cocktail recipes, spirits and bartending techniques brought to the global stage by a long tradition of Hispanic bartenders. Many of these individuals left an important legacy for generations to come such as bartending legend Santiago “Pichín” Policastro who created classic cocktail recipe books like “Tragos Magicos” and “The Decalogue of the Barman.”

“I have poured my heart and soul into finding a way to tell this important story of Hispanic bartenders that helped change the world of cocktails and hospitality,” said Diaz. “Now our goal is to create a non-profit to raise funds to start working on what will be ‘The Cantineros Museum,’ an exhibition to continue bringing awareness to the art of bartending and cocktails.”

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