07 July 2014 07:59

Denzel Heath's Diary of a travelling bartender (#4)

Into Africa - Nigeria

There is one inescapable truth that I have learned during my African travels: The Africa we know as South Africans is not REAL Africa. And furthermore, REAL Africans do not consider us Saffas to be true Africans either. On first hearing this you might feel a bit insulted, but the very first moment you step off of the plane in Nigeria, Ghana or Uganda, you thoroughly understand the validity of this assertion.

As a passionate cobbler confectioner, a flip frolicker and a well travelled dop and chopper, during my travels educating the masses, I try at the very least, to spread this infectious obsession I have for serving people all sorts of mouth-watering grogs! It is however not enough to hear from only me that bartending opens up doors that you could never have imagined, makes the world the oyster for any inspired mixing mind and offers a unique opportunity to meet interesting people.

So this week, I decided to offer a friend the opportunity to paint a picture as a #TravellingBartender from a different perspective! We met one wet evening in a saloon in Cape Town. The man served me a Rum Old Fashioned that even bourbon-man, James E Pepper, would approve of. He serves as a bon vivant at the Orphanage Cocktail Emporium and works as a trainer for Shaker Bar School Cape Town. Here is bartender/trainer Cuan Dumas' account of booze portioning in the ever so colourful country of Nigeria!

Today I find myself thrown deep into West African territory – a city called Lagos. Immediately after touching down and disembarking the aircraft I feel the curtain of humidity engulf my body. The airport is more confused than I am and after a few banterous conversations with Lagos officials, I'm in... or am I? Police stop us at every intersection question what this "Oga" (Man in charge/Boss) is doing in Lagos. My driver carries a large wad of cash on him to "thank" the officials for protecting the cargo before they send us on our way.

Eventually after a day's work I am taken to view what Lagos has to offer in terms of bartending. We roll up outside this commercial venue with our Hummer, as you do when in Nigeria, and a red carpet rolls out to greet us along with two tall beautiful Nigerian woman. Immediately I scurry off to the bar to investigate.

Lagos has unveiled itself to me to be one big MTV Rap video. Looking around all you see is bottles of Hennessy in flashy ice buckets and champagne being poured into the mouths of men and woman. The dance floor is a grind fest of sweaty party goers. This is commercial Lagos... Money buys anything and anything is possible, as long as your pockets are deep enough.

During the day time Lagos is a mass market where everyone is trying to sell you something. Lagos is not for the inexperienced traveller and could land you in some pretty sticky situations very easily if you are not smart about the things you do or say. However, on the flip side I have made some friends by being a bartender. The guys and girls like to learn and by showing them the ideals and ethics of a modern bartender, I may have started a revolution in Nigerian bartending. I can't wait to be back!

Sounds like fun, Cuan. Oh Africa, we love you! Africa is a unique and emerging market, and it is because of this that we see such a large influx of international brand specialists and industry professionals in Western Africa. Keep spreading your passion. Thanks for the guest blog and here is a salute to you, hoping that you get to do loads more bar travelling in the near future, and that you would be willing and able to share those experiences with the rest us!

Over the next month, I find myself training bartenders, designing menus and launching bars in Mauritius, and tending some cocktails to the Bartending Empire in New Orleans at the Tales of the Cocktails! Keep checking MUDL for updates as I am sure there will be loads to talk about! And that's all from my diary for this time! Until next time, keep mixing!

Yours Truly,

The Travelling Bartender (Denzel Heath)
#travellingbartender

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