moe aljaff

Moe Aljaff: The Schmuck who hit gold

01 December, 2021

From living a borderline homeless existence in Amsterdam and handing out leaflets while living off Burger King and cheap pints, Moe Aljaff recently opened his third venue in the hipster hotspot of Barcelona’s El Raval, making him one of the hottest properties in global bartending right now.

Born in the Middle East and raised in Sweden, Aljaff’s pathway to bartending was far from conventional, much like the tattooed, no-shits-given style of the “five-star dive bars” he now runs. Lucky Schmuck, his most recent venture, is the third in his series of Catalan joints, following the roaring success of Two Schmucks, which is sitting comfortably in The World’s 50 Best Bars.

“I did this acid trip in India and I remember realising that throughout my formative years I’ve always felt left behind,” says Aljaff while sipping on an iced coffee in Fat Schmuck, the second venue in the trilogy. “It doesn’t matter what I do, I’ll always feel like I’m chasing the pack, which I guess is where I get some of my drive from.”

Aljaff’s determination has taken him far, but after slogging his way through torturous bar and hostel shifts, he found himself falling away from bartending in his mid 20s. However, a successful run in Bacardi Legacy gave him a new outlook on the industry.

“I was ready to give up on the bar industry in 2015,” adds Aljaff. “I thought I knew everything there is to know. I’d worked in high-volume bars for, like, six years, but I’d never made proper cocktails before. I remember one of the first challenges in Legacy that year was to make a perfectly balanced Daiquiri, and I was going around asking different competitors what to do.”

Against the odds, Aljaff went on to be runner-up in that competition, but meeting his future business partner, AJ White, was the real prize, as it led to opening of Two Schmucks.

“Building Two Schmucks came from a romantic place and turned into a real hustle, but what it made me realise was that I love creating shit. It really doesn’t matter what it is – it can be building a table for the bar or filming a promo – it’s the process which gets me excited. But once something is finished I take two breaths and then I’m looking for the next challenge.

“I think the pandemic was really telling on who was in it for the long run because, when people started panicking and saying things will never be the same, that’s when we doubled down and made sure we came back stronger. It doesn’t just happen by accident and the main thing for me is to carry on growing the brand.”

CREATING A SCENE

White and Aljaff were the original Schmucks behind the brand, but following White’s departure during lockdown, the torch has been passed to French duet Juliette Larrouy and Pom Modeste, who now head the flagship bar.





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