Beverage Director Taha Ismail of Kapnos - Biography

Washington, D.C.

October 2014

Originally from Casablanca, Morocco, Taha Ismail has worked in the restaurant industry for 15 years, holding positions from line cook to bartender. And while he holds a bachelor’s degree in Finance from Strayer University, Ismail found his true calling—and a fairly academic pursuit of its own—in mixology.

BarSmarts certified, Ismail was head bartender at José Andrés’ Zaytinya for seven years. And that’s where Ismail really discovered a passion for developing innovative cocktails—even in the midst of a high-volume, high-expectation D.C. environment. Zaytinya is also where Ismail met future collaborator Mike Isabella, with whom he now works. Ismail was part of the Graffiato opening team, serving as the restaurant’s head mixologist and bar manager since 2011. He is now the beverage director at Isabella’s Kapnos and Graffiato. Not only does he continue to innovate creative, Mediterranean-infused cocktail menus, Ismail continues to assist with restaurant training and expansion.