Food & Drinks

When cocktail hour is back

DIAGEOBARA

Redempta Muluka, mentor-bartender and Diageo Bar Academy trainer. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG

Summary

  • For years, the rattle of the shaker and ice crunching, laughter among friends has been part of bartenders’ lives. But the Covid-19 pandemic has changed it all.
  • Redempta Muluka, a trainer with Diageo Bartenders Academy says “there is no sugar‐coating the severity of how the pub industry has been hit.”
  • Ms Muluka had just started to train bartenders last month on how to up their game.

Bartenders have found themselves in unchartered territories.

For years, the rattle of the shaker and ice crunching, laughter among friends has been part of bartenders’ lives. But the Covid-19 pandemic has changed it all.

Redempta Muluka, a trainer with Diageo Bartenders Academy says “there is no sugar‐coating the severity of how the pub industry has been hit.”

Ms Muluka had just started to train bartenders last month on how to up their game.

“All was going well, things were getting back to normal then the lockdown happened last week,” says Ms Muluka who won a mixologist award in 2019.

She is also a sommelier and barista.

With bars closed she says bartenders can still utilise their skills at home. Some are making cocktails at home and delivering to people’s houses or offices.

“It’s not just drinks that are being delivered, it is also the way they are being packaged,” she says.

Watson Waiyaki, KBL Channel Manager On Trade says bartenders will be instrumental in giving consumers the confidence to go back to the bars, giving a boost to the hospitality industry.

“They will enhance their skills through the bar academy training we are running. Bars will eventually be opened. The skills and knowledge impacted will be applicable once bars reopen and this will ensure great service to patrons,” he added.

Joel Kamau, Kenya Breweries Limited commercial director says the Diageo Bartenders Academy aims to train 10,000 bartenders over the next four months.

“The idea is to sharpen the skills of bartenders in Kenya as well as raise the profile of the art form of bar service. Eventually, we hope this will improve the experience of our in-bar consumers in Kenya,” he said.

The launch coincided with World Bartenders Day, which was marked in Nairobi, Mombasa, Thika, Kisumu and Nakuru.

“Our consumer’s taste and needs are evolving every day. While building these amazing people skills, we are also giving back to the communities that we work in and watching bartenders develop their careers here in Kenya,” he said.

In the first module, bartenders are required to attend a one-day training workshop where they learn about customer service, the art of bartending, tools of the trade, bartender secrets, drink categories, spirit production, brand knowledge, perfect serves, counterfeit spotting, up-selling and, importantly, responsible serving.

“This programme will empower bartenders so that they can be employable and be entrepreneurs,” Mr Kamau said.