After last year’s spectacular failure at rustling us up a Christmas dinner, this year the Yummy team decided to play it safe and get Kenya’s heartthrobs Sauti Sol to whip us up a few signature holiday cocktails instead.
The Yummy team is at the terrace bar of the recently re-opened Artcaffe Grand, looking on as each member of Sauti Sol- Africa’s biggest band- takes a turn behind the bar to whip up cocktails made from their favourite ingredient combos. Their banter is hilarious. Maybe one day when I write my memoirs, I’ll repeat the extremely inappropriate joke Chimano cracked that had us all burst into uncontrollable fits of laughter in spite of ourselves. Maybe I’ll talk about the 2-second grind dance Bien did for me while singing, “she can gerrit,” a line from their smash hit single, “Still the one”. Better still, I might wax lyrical about how Delvin’s inner LL Cool J seems to pop up when talking to women, a skill honed from engaging with his female fans obsessed with his abs. Or how I’m convinced that Polycarp, the most reserved member of the group, secretly has an Incredible-Hulk-type personality shift when they are just bro-ing out.
The conversation inevitably shifts to Christmas. Bien describes it as a commercially created concept which he only celebrates for the family aspect. This year, they are getting all their families together for the first time for a massive feast. Speaking of feast, I can’t help but ask if jogoo la jiji, the rooster Bien is holding on the cover of their latest album, will make it to the new year. I am informed they have such grand plans for it, with a Twitter account already having been set up. So yes, by the look of things, he has a long and popular life to look forward to. Frankly, I am a little disappointed that they didn’t show up with him for the shoot. “Jogoo by the bar” would have been a cool shot for social media.
To Live and Die in Afrika makes for the perfect culmination of 2015, the year of Sauti Sol. Polycarp states that it shows their growth as artists because they have always been challenging themselves to learn new things. They took up production for instance because producers never had time for them before. Now, and with the visuals chosen for this album, they are in a position to dictate what pop music should sound like.
With various nominations and awards in 2015, they firmly believe that thoughts become actions and as Bien puts it, “The world is for dreamers. Everything you want is within your power if you just dream and work towards it.” Sauti Sol sent signed copies of their album to the White House last year, in the hope that US President Barack Obama would listen to it. In their Soma Soma video about 5 years ago, Bien points out that he is actually wearing an Obama T Shirt. Fast forward to earlier this year and they were dancing with POTUS and the Kenyan president at State House in the viral video that dominated our social media timelines for some time. They toured, released smash videos in usual fashion, met personalities like Beyonce, Kerry Washington, Bill Gates, Jay Z and more. Sauti Sol came, saw and conquered, and then they made us cocktails!
They all unanimously say that Chimano drinks the most. Even Chimano says that Chimano drinks the most. The photographer pauses. The waiters mill around. A group of fans walk up to ask for a quick selfie. A song off their new album starts playing and it is fascinating to watch their reaction. The photographer snaps back into action and gets them to do a brief acapella chorus for the camera. In those few brief moments, they have everyone’s attention. Even those who had been acting like they weren’t impressed by the band being in the restaurant. When it comes to their selection of cocktail ingredients, we realise they speak volumes about each of their unique personalities.
15ml blue curacao
15ml lime cordial
5 ml sugar
As he invites me to try some of his blueberry cheesecake, Bien toys with the names Baraza 3000 (he insists this has nothing to do with Andre 3000) and a Luhya name I can’t even remember. He eventually settles for 1987, named after his birth year. His go-to drink on a night out is vodka or cocktails that have it as a base.
30 ml campari
60 ml orange juice
Delvin explains that vodka mixed with campari is too bitter and the Kenyan palate isn’t accustomed to that, more so for the ladies. “Cocktails should be enjoyed by all. This one is mild enough because the orange juice makes it a little sweeter and ladies can appreciate that,” he adds. He however reiterates that they don’t party as much as they used to, mostly because they have more responsibilities and so little time now. When they have a show coming up the next day, Delvin says it’s always an early night.
6 mint leaves
2 pieces of chilli
45 ml vodka
10ml lemon juice
Passion fruit for garnish
Chimano gave it that name because, as he puts it, ‘it gets you all giddy’. He explains that he likes partying whenever the band travels because people don’t know him, and so he can go all out. There isn’t as much scrutiny and therefore less risk of waking up to find his pictures on some random blog. “My go-to drink is a long island ice tea. You always need that first kick, so I get that and I’m ready to start the night,” he states. “I then go through the menu and try something interesting or new. I’m also getting into martinis. They get you there without you realizing it. With a long island, you can taste the ‘getting there’ coming on”.
60ml bulleit whiskey
Cream to top up
I didn’t get to try Polycarp’s cocktail. I swear I just blinked and someone had emptied his glass. He however explained that he has a sweet tooth and wouldn’t mind being on a dessert diet for a week. He wanted something sweet, hence the selected ingredients. He generally lays off alcohol, however, and on nights out, you are likely to find him drinking water.