A native of New York City’s bustling West Village, Gavriel hopped around the Big Apple over the years through a series of increasingly high profile and wide-ranging jobs, from popular restaurant Lillia to city dives and nightclubs. Most recently, he slung drinks at Brooklyn’s Ethyl’s, a 70s-inspired hideaway in the borough’s Williamsburg neighborhood.
But it was through working with a company dubbed Manhattan by Sail that lured Gavriel to the water and inspired him to escape the urban rat race and decamp to the sunny Florida Keys.
“I knew I wanted to keep exploring unique hospitality opportunities, preferably in warm weather,” Gavriel recalls. “So, when the summer season in New York came to an end, going down to the Keys was an obvious decision.”
As a result, these days you can find him pouring mixing tropical cocktails and concocting frozen drinks at Isla Bella, located in Marathon, Florida. Open since 2019, the idyllic 24-acre property enjoys a reputation as one of the top resorts not just in the Florida Keys but in the country at large thanks to an extreme attention to detail, from its 1,000 palm trees spread throughout the property to the marble floors and wood beams that accent its buildings.
It also has a private beach, complete with a nearby bar (simply dubbed Beach Bar) where flip-flop wearing guests, some still dripping with ocean or pool water, enjoy the finer aspects of life on vacation and the smell of an ocean breeze. A far cry from smog-choked city streets, it’s where Gavriel currently holds court. We asked Gavriel about tending bar at the beach.
What’s the best thing about working at a bar on the beach?
Serving guests who are at a beach bar! They’re so happy to be on vacation and taking in those beautiful sunsets and ocean views with you. Their positivity really enriches my time at work.
What cocktail do you make the most?
What ingredient do you use the most?
In your opinion, what’s the secret to a perfect sunny-weather cocktail?
It has to be served with a smile.
What’s one surprising thing you found out about what it’s like to work at the Beach Bar?
Honestly, I thought I’d seen it all, but nothing could have prepared me for the first time a bearded iguana came scurrying across my station.
Any funny stories while on the job?
I may or may not have fallen in the water trying to save a rogue soccer ball. I can neither confirm nor deny.
Are there any downsides?
The wind. Oh my god the wind. Pouring drinks in 30 MPH gusts is a skill I never knew I had.