I once was a bartender. Never mind that it took me a whole 10 minutes to shake up one whisky sour, I was a bartender and I loved it. In the mixology world, taking 10 minutes to make just one cocktail is an eternity. You have to be incredibly fast, accurate and creative to cater to all your orders. It isn’t an easy craft especially if you have sloppy hands and don’t know how to muddle and shake but there are those who have mastered the art and do it with effortless flair.
The Kenyan round of the Diageo Reserve WORLD CLASS competition was held on 17th May at the Villa Rosa Kempinski and the atmosphere was nothing short of electric. Drawing bartenders from across Nairobi’s popular night spots, the competition was evidently stiff. Over the day, contestants were judged based on their skill in speed, inspiration, creativity in display through contrasting cocktails and finally a food pairing challenge.
Artcaffe’s Samia Joan impressed the esteemed panel that included Global Brand Ambassador and Luminary Georgie Bell, Kenya’s Luxury brand ambassador- Dougie Duncanson, Akash Tomar, Alex Kavita and Sherlyne Muita. Her final speed test saw her make an whopping 8 cocktails in 10 minutes brushing off her competitors to emerge Kenya’s best bartender and is now set to represent Kenya at the WORLD CLASS finals.
Samia who is currently Artcaffe’s head bartender, started out as a waitress and described mixology as her first love. In a profession dominated by men, she was eager to learn, be like the guys and make a difference. Now in charge of curating the cocktail menu for the Artcaffe group and ensuring that standards are consistent across all branches, Samia has risen up the ranks and outshined the rest.
“Right now its pressure, pressure, pressure! I’m preparing myself to compete against the world and represent Kenya in a way that nobody has done before. I am sure it is going to be a surprise to those at the Final competition to see a lady representing Kenya, I know last year there were two women mixologists at the finals”. A visibly elated Joan said as she addressed the media. “The opportunities for a bartender are limitless not just in terms of career, but in your creations- all you have to do is be creative, the only thing that inhibits you is your imagination.”
Douglas Duncanson, Luxury Brand Ambassador, said “Samia displayed the characteristics that we sought in a bartender. From the onset, she displayed a passion for unique serves, and presented serves that were a combination of the creativity and sophisticated tastes. As one of the two female contestants, Samia’s win affirms that the bartending profession is not only limited to one gender. The standard of the final 7 contestants also highlights the growing standard of Kenya’s cocktail culture.”
Samia will be representing Kenya at the WORLD CLASS Global final in Miami, USA in September. The final brings together mixologists from all over the world where they compete for the title of Global Ambassador for Diageo WORLD CLASS. A role that opens the ambassador to travelling all around the world, education and inspiring new talent whilst developing their own skills and knowledge through the different tastes and techniques they experience along the way.