Yvonne Wairimu has been chosen to represent Africa at the annual prestigious Tales of Cocktails 2017 festival in New Orleans.
The accomplished mixologist will be joining colleagues from 10 countries, including Kenya, Greece, China, Ghana, Canada and the Cayman Islands, to learn alongside some of the world’s most respected experts.
Having worked in the industry for more than 15 years, Yvonne has been a female pioneer in a largely male-dominated field, even winning awards for her creative cocktail ideas.
She said, “It has been challenging since there is still the perception that working behind the bar at a club or a bar is still considered taboo for women.
“Most people usually expect that as a female, you are either incompetent or not really committed. Trying to change this perception and to be taken professionally has been an uphill task. However, I am glad to have changed this perception for myself. Fellow male bartenders tend to look down upon female bartenders but again, with time and hard work, I have earned their respect.”
Since winning the Professional Mixology Challenge in 2012, Yvonne has gone on to work with a number of international bartenders and travelled to Sweden, where she developed her skill set under the tutelage of master distillers.
“I believe mixology is an art. I have always been intrigued by the creativity and precision behind the bar. I enjoy pushing my boundaries by continuously innovating new recipes.”
She adds, “Each cocktail is a different expression and fits different occasions accordingly; it’s all about the mood. For instance, with vodka, I enjoy making a cosmopolitan. If it's rum, a mojito and for whiskey, I love whiskey sours. For me, it’s the basics done really well. It is necessary for a cocktail to be well made and balanced in order to truly enjoy its full experience.”
Jameson East Africa brand manager Renee Kamau congratulated Yvonne, saying, “We are thrilled that Yvonne will be representing not only Kenyan mixologists at the programme but also putting local females firmly onto the international scene. We eagerly anticipate her return to see the new innovations she will bring back to Nairobi.”
“I am extremely excited, overwhelmed and humbled to be a part of the Tales of the Cocktail programme,” Yvonne said. “I am truly honoured to represent not only my country but my continent as well. Beyond that, it is a particular milestone for me as a female mixologist.
“I believe that if you are committed and focused, you can break down any barriers and achieve anything.”
Yvonne’s favourite cocktails
60ml Absolut Blue
Muddle the pineapple and ginger together, add vanilla syrup then 60ml of Absolut vodka. Give it a hard shake and double strain into a Collins Glass filled with ice. Top up with ginger beer and garnishes with a pineapple
Refreshing, a summer-like feeling, light, a perfect balance between pineapple, ginger and vodka
Triple sec orange 10ml
45ml of Martell
Honey syrup 10ml
Add all the ingredients into a shaker, then double strain in a Martini glass that is half rimmed with sugar. Garnish with a rosemary sprig
Delicious, rosemary makes it refreshing and easy to take down
Beefeater Gin 60ml
Muddle the raspberries together with lemon juice and sugar syrup, add Ice 60ml beefeater gin and Sharkey hard. Double strain in a mason jar filled with ice and top up sprite. Garnish with raspberries
Has a healthy feel to it, fruity and sweet. Cannot feel the liquor.
4. Red Scarlet Red
Rose Petal Garnish
Add all ingredients into the shaker give it a hard shake strain in a whiskey glass and garnish with red rose petals
The zest from the lemon has a wonderful kick.
5. Cuban Painkiller
60ml Havana club
Garnish with vanilla and cinnamon sticks
Put Ice in a Collins Glass, add 60ml Anejo especial, top up with apple juice and vanilla syrup. Garnish with cinnamon sticks and flamed cinnamon powder, and Apple slices
Tastes like cake
Perfect for a sweet tooth
Olmeca Blanco 45ml
15ml triple sec
Muddle red chopped chilies and mangoes add 45ml Olmeca Blanco, 15ml triple sec give it a hard shake and double strain into a Martini glass half rimmed with a mixture of red chilli powder and salt. Garnish with a red chili
Quite spicy and tangy but maintains the little sweetness of the muddled mangoes.
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