Blend and Dexterity: All Hail Nigeria’s Best Bartender

Blend and Dexterity: All Hail Nigeria’s Best Bartender

Tuesday, May 16, 2017 5:00 pm

L-R: Head of Reserve, Diageo, Joe Nazzal; Winner, World Class Nigeria 2017, Kelvin Oduntan; Managing Director, Guinness Nigeria, Peter Ndegwa; Senior Brand Ambassador, Diageo – East Africa, Douglas Duncanson; Portfolio Director – Diageo, Adenike Adebola.

By Daniels Ekugo

Diageo, the parent company of Guinness Nigeria Plc and the world’s leading premium drinks business hosted its maiden World Class competition at the Intercontinental hotel, Lagos.

The event which took place on Thursday, 11th May 2017 saw a display of sublime bartending skills, as 8 of Nigeria’s best bartenders including; Kelvin Oduntan (Raddison Blu), Micheal Ikpo (Moore House, Lagos) , Jerry Effiong (RSVP Lagos), Henry Olorunmola (Hard Rock Café, Lagos), Micheal Toriola (Ivory Room, Abuja), Sunday Kangwa (Panache Resturant, Abuja), Jerry Nwaodochi (Sky Lounge, PH) and Haley Ekpetor (Castle Hotel,PH) all convened at the Soul lounge to compete for a place in the Global finals.

The event sponsored by Diageo Reserve is aimed at discovering the world’s best bartender. The objective is to lead the cocktail revolution in Nigeria through training and consumer education.

Over 50 bartenders competed in the regional finals in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt before the shortlisted eight.

Using a variety of Diageo’s brands including Johnnie Walker Blue and Gold Label, Cîroc Vodka and Ketel One Vodka, the 8 finalists were tasked to create cutting-edge cocktails in 6 minutes. Contestants were awarded points based on dexterity and attention to detail by a distinguished panel of judges including; Anthony Shishler (Managing Director of Maison Fahrenheit Hospitality), Tolu Erogbogbo (Creative Director of Eros and Gourmet Foods) and Douglas Duncanson (Senior Brand Ambassador, Diageo – East Africa.

Managing Director/CEO of Guinness Nigeria, Peter Ndegwa commented on the importance of Bartending in Nigeria, he said: “We are a drink business, and drinks are enjoyed by high-end bars, clubs as well as lounges. Serving these drinks right is pivotal to the success of our own business”.

“I’m so excited Nigeria has finally found the Best Bartender of the Year, it’s something I’ve been working towards for quite some time. This competition has given me so much – excellent knowledge, skills and industry camaraderie that will add such valuable impact to my career. I’m thrilled that Nigeria as a country will be represented at the Global Finals in Mexico which is a great opportunity for the cocktail culture in Nigeria!” commented Enumah Stephen – The Diageo Reserve brand ambassador for Nigeria.

The competition experience put the bartenders’ skills, senses and agility to the ultimate test with a series of difficult challenges. From crafting five well-balanced cocktails in six minutes or less in ‘Cocktails Against the Clock’; to developing palate-pleasing cocktail in the ‘Around the world Challenge’; to drawing inspiration from fresh, seasonal ingredients found at a local market to craft out-of-the-box creations in the ‘Fruit Market Basket’– the 2017 World Class Nigeria program allowed each competitor to showcase their hospitality behind the bar, skill sets, and creativity; and this year being the first competition year has kick started a new cocktail revolution to promote bespoke drinking solutions.

Joe Nazzal, Head of Reserve for Diageo Nigeria further comments, “This was a good competition, being our first World Class competition here in Nigeria and it was quite exciting watching the bartenders display great showmanship. While we do have one winner who has Mexico to prepare for, we are inspired by the commitment and engagement that each person brought to this year’s program.”

Mr. Kelvin Oduntan of Raddison Blu Hotel emerged winner of the maiden World Class competition, whilst Mr. Jerry Effiong, and Mr. Michael Ikpo followed in 2nd and 3rd places respectively.

The cocktail sessions were followed by an energetic performance by Magnito; who performed his hit singles – Loud and If I get Money Eh.

The winner, Mr. Kelvin Oduntan is set to represent Nigeria and compete with a selection of the best bartenders from all over the globe at the global World Class finals in Mexico City this August.

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