The Eldoret Nightlife party scene was in full bloom. Cocktails were not just a luxury you found in the Elite pubs and restaurants, the likes of The Well or Zaika. Most clubs had started to incorporate them in their drink portfolios from Blue Lounge to Panvilla to Relax Inn, you name it.
We, the true revelers of E-Town, ladies, and gentlemen of culture?, we were happy. We finally had picture-worthy drinks to match our Nairobi counterparts. Then Rona happened‼️ And Fellow Kenyans decided to stop reggae by shutting down the on-premise alcohol industry.
Corona Leaving A Trail of Destruction In Its Wake
I must say, it has not been easy. But even more affected are the gentlemen behind those beautiful mixed drinks that blow our minds, sobriety, and budgets.
I had the pleasure of talking to two of the best mixologists in Eldoret. Just to get insight into how the Corona Virus pandemic has affected them and their craft. They are both protégés of the Dante Mixology Training Institute under the DMKL brand, and despite being exceptional at what they do, they’ve gone from making 5k – 20k a night to nothing on most nights. They will also have to start building their fan base from scratch should the ban be lifted and bars reopened.
What They Had To Say On Eldoret Nightlife Drinking Scene and How They’ve Been Affected By The Shutdown
In frame is Sheldon Gadhu, professionally known as Don The Mixologist in his element. If it were a normal day, he’d be doing this at Blue Lounge or some nice club. But these are rona times and he tells me he hasn’t booked a single job in 6 months!
It’s worth noting that he’s been a mixologist for 2 years and he’s used to getting gigs not just in Eldoret but all over the country. He’s mixed in Belasco Kitale, Blue lounge, Panvilla, Eclipse Lounge, and Cocktail Bar Eagle all the way in Mombasa. And his cocktails are out of this great world. If you’ve had them, you can bear me witness.
He also treats his customers, male or female, in a way that makes you feel so special you have no option but to be loyal. Of course he gets you fucked up too which is the number one reason we love him and his cocktails. I mean, that’s the whole point?.
Before rona, his biggest challenge would be getting supplies such as the Cointreau, mixers and bitters since they aren’t always available in Eldoret. Oh yes, I learnt alot of vocabularies talking to him?.
I know, I know, he comes off as a fun-loving, live-in-the-moment, on the surface guy. And you wouldn’t take him that seriously when he’s talking to you while making you a drink. But Sheldon is a visionary with vast knowledge and expertise.
He knows his shit and mediocrity is something you’ll never experience in his work. And that’s something you have to appreciate. Moreso now that so many YouTube-taught wannabes who have a lot of mediocrity to offer have flooded the industry. ?
Post rona, his biggest challenge is finding work. Eldoret nightlife shut down due to the curfew imposed by the government has also limited the number of private parties he could get gigs at.
Talking To Cocktail Master Kev
The same goes for Cocktail Master Kev, the resident mixologist at Relax Inn who’s been in the industry for 5 years. Kevin Tanui, kwa maji na Ya kitambulisho is another of Eldoret Nightlife’s hidden gems. He is very popular for his signature cocktail; The Tipsy Breeze which incorporates London dry gin, cointreau ,cinnamon bitters,cumin seed bitters,white guava juice and lemonade.
His resume covers places like Zaika Lounge, Blue Lounge, Club Sessia, and The Well Irish Pub. He has also worked several gigs including Safaricom end year party (2018), The launching of cocktails at club Epic Kitale(2019), Launch of Simba Village new Main bar(2019), and Valentines day cocktail party at Martinis Utra lounge kitale(2020) among others.
Prior to the pandemic, his main concern was Eldoret Nightlife patrons had not yet fully embraced cocktails and consumption was average. Now, he says although he has been able to book a few gigs, getting work is a real struggle.
Lessons From The COVID-19 Shutdown
I asked them what has been their biggest lesson from Rona since it’s been a learning experience for everyone right?
Sheldon: I’ll be short and clear msee lazima ukue na plan B Ndio plan A iki fail plan B inacome through.
Kev: The biggest lesson from corona is that we should not always depend on one industry, we should invest in different sectors and also we should be unique in our dealings.
What They Are Doing To Stay Afloat
Bruised but not defeated seems to be the common motif I picked up from talking to the two. Kev, together with other mixologists, have started Tipsytails Mixologists Crew. This is a mixology agency that will be involved in cocktail gigs, bar and beverage consultancy and brand promotions. He hopes it will help grow the Eldoret Mixology Industry even more. He has also been making mocktails and catering to private parties.
Sheldon has big plans too. Amazing ones actually. Eventually, he hopes to build a mixology school in Eldoret since the gap is there. Short-term though, he has been coming up with new recipes and is going to be doing cocktail deliveries around town. Additionally, he is planning a cocktail expo like none that we’ve ever experienced before. Start saving up coz it’s gonna be fun! Imagine drinking an unlimited number of cocktails all day long for Ksh 3000 only.
If you’d like to hire their services or make a consultation, here are their contact details.
Facebook : Don Sheldon
Instagram |Facebook |Twitter: https: cocktailmaster_kev
Phone number: +254708189314
Video Credits: kreate photography
Photo Credits: Kreate Photography, Blue Lounge, Panvilla, Simba Village.