Pernod Ricard Kenya, also known as PRK, are the unknown cool kids on the block. I’ve found that few people know who they are or what they do but if I mention Jameson, Absolut, Chivas, or Ballantine’s, eyes widen and ears perk. The French company Pernod Ricard produces distilled beverages and was established in Kenya in August of 2012. Since, they’ve initiated the annual party Jameson Live (which will feature B.O.B. this year), and sponsored plenty of events such as the Taste Awards and most recently, a polo tournament at the Nairobi Polo Club.
As you can imagine, you have to appreciate a good drink and enjoy a great party (among professional qualifications) to work for PRK. They reached out to me on a Wednesday to join their team for an evening with Kurt Schlechter known for his mixology and flair…. Of course I was down. FINALLY my first bar post.
On Friday night, Jacquie and I met at Brew Bistro for a night of specialty cocktails.
Brew Bistro… Oh where do I start with Brew Bistro? There was so much hype around them when they opened several years back. That hype doesn’t seem to have died down to date. First off, Brew has a unique offering of micro brews and delicious but affordable food. Plus, they always have great happy hour deals and themed nights that bring throngs of people to crowd into the corridor of space between tables, shisha pipes, and bars.
PRK took over the bar on the outdoor patio and when I showed up Kurt had already begun his show. Kurt was in Nairobi working on “Bar Stars” a three-phase bartending development program that’s running across Africa. The program aims at raising industry standards, personal development, and improving the overall competency of bartenders through theoretical learning and practical application. That Friday was Kurt’s last night in town and he came to show the versatility of PRK products and show people a good time.
Kurt made a total of four drinks that evening:
Irish Old-Fashioned: amarena cherry, brown sugar, Jameson, and a dash of bitters.
Absolut Kenya: fresh watermelon, basil leaves, sugar syrup, Absolut original
The Bow Street Lift: Jameson, walnut syrup, fresh cream, bitters, topped with soda
Ricard & Ginger Frappe: Ballatine’s, fresh passion fruit, ginger sugar syrup, Ricard
I was able to try two out of the four specialty cocktails: the Absolut Kenya and the Ricard & Ginger Frappe. I loved them both, they were perfectly balanced and unique.The Absolut Kenya was the most ‘surprising’ cocktail in terms of flavor. As I was watching Kurt add watermelon to basil I was doubtful I would enjoy it. First of all, I’m not a fan of watermelon in cocktails because it often leaves the consistency grainy or mushy, I don’t want to eat my cocktail. The Absolut Kenya was thoroughly strained and the basil leaves with a sprinkle of black pepper on top made the cocktail savory and taste like an watermelon, mint, mozzarella salad. I might not be selling it right now but trust me, it was delicious.
As you can see, Jay of JayTakeAPic was also in attendance and if you ever have to attend a party or event, you want Jay to be there. He’s the kind of guy who keeps your spirits high and your belly aching from laughing all night long. He is a GOOD TIME. He’s making that face because he generally doesn’t like watermelons, but even he liked this cocktail. It was a huge hit!
The cocktail event was quickly over and after two cocktails each, Jay, Jacquie and I were looking for what to do next. PRK offered to treat us to a dinner which we could not have been more quick to agree to.
We headed to the “private dining” room where sit-down dinners are conducted (at this time of night, it was basically an extension of the bar) and sat down to order. The waiter came to take my order last, both Jay and Jacquie had ordered burgers. I asked for three starters: half a pound of chicken wings, a tuna mango and brie appetizer, and some calamari rings. The waiter looked at me perplexed “Is all that food for you?!” and the first thing out of my mouth was “NO. It’s for all of us to share”. As he walked away Jay Jacquie and I burst into laughter. I couldn’t help but lie. Maybe it was because I was a little embarrassed but also because I didn’t want to have to explain my appetite to a waiter who probably wouldn’t be interested. I’m a healthy eater okay?!?
I commend Brew Bistro on their menu offering. They’ve got a good mix of bar food and food you’d enjoy on a special night out. It’s also all well priced, I believe each burger cost between ksh 900 and ksh 1300. It’s a hefty portion and the food comes out hot and fresh. It’s exactly what you’d want to eat after drinking a few too many cocktails.
As much as the portions are generous, we finished ALL of our food. Cue the food coma.
We left Brew Bistro full, happy, and tired. I appreciated (more so than I did before) that mixologists are of a special breed. Making a drink, be it a cocktail or a mixed drink is an art. The creativity behind flavor profiles, presentation, and drink-making-flair is a unique way to make drinking fun and special.
This isn’t the last you’ll hear of PRK working with Brew Bistro. They’re currently in the process of brewing their own specialty beer made in Jameson barrels but brewed by Brew Bistro in Nairobi. They’re also holding a competition for all you designers out there to design the label of the final product. Being the winning designer could mean a trip to Dublin for St. Patricks Day! BUT if you do win, you have to take me with you…. Please.
All photos taken by Jacquie Mwai.