Gin is made through a process of distillation of botanicals – mainly Juniper berries and is a popular drink all over the world.
Recently, Hendricks Gin, for a second year in a row took over a number of bars from Runda to Karen to celebrate #WorldCucumberDay. Cucumbers are a subtle but key ingredient in Hendrick’s gin, which was first made in 1999 by a woman called Lesley Gracie.
Gin enthusiasts were able to “escape the mundane and embrace their unusual side” at 10 select bars namely: Hunter’s Bar at The Alchemist, Ankole Grill, The Lord Erroll, Tapas Bar, Que Pasa Karen, The Collective, Muthaiga Country Club, Karen Country Club, Hemingways and Villa Rosa Kempinski.
The best part was a cucumber hour where cucumbers were all you needed in exchange for Hendricks cocktails. To add to that, there were also a series of Hendrick’s Gin brunches, high teas and craft cocktail evenings hosted throughout the week.
We spoke to Ngugi Muthoni and Ekta Patel who are passionate foodies, gin lovers and lifestyle brands
Tell us a little more about yourselves…
Ekta: I am a food blogger, vlogger and writer. I also create content for brands. I enjoy good food and great wine as well as travel and unique experiences.
Ngugi: If there is great food and drinks, I will probably be talking about it or planning to try some. I live for memorable culinary experiences, I can eat my heart out with no shame. I talk about brands especially those of high quality & craftsmanship and may soon be the new gemmologist in town.
How and why do you like your gin?
N: Gin has grown on me and I am loving every minute of it. It the perfect summer drink if you ask me. Every day is summer in Kenya, right? In addition to the traditional juniper a key component in Gin distillation, Hendrick’s infuses Bulgarian roses & cucumber to add flavor making it easy to enjoy on it own, with tonic or a few slices of cucumber as garnish. It’s one of the easiest cocktails to make yourself at home. My close friends also enjoy gin & tea, perhaps soon I’ll host them for Hendrick’s High Tea.
E: I love GIN. It is my drink of preference whenever I go out for cocktails. The flavour combinations with Gin are endless, the hangovers are not as bad as other spirits. Gin lovers, to me, give off an infectious vibe that I absolutely love. Come rain, come shine, gin works anywhere, anytime. Again this depends on the gin. My personal favourites are Hendricks, The Botanist and Musgrave.
What was your favourite part of the bar crawl?
N: Experiencing Nairobi by night in fun company, enjoying some refreshing cocktail and scrumptious meals were my highlights. I also got to reconnect with old friends and make new acquaintances.
E: Watching the bartenders create our drinks was great for content creation. I also really enjoyed the party bus vibe and the variety of guests on the crawl with me. Last but not the least, the flower crowns were pretty and added to the theme beautifully.
What’s your opinion of Kenya’s cocktail scene?
N: The Kenyan cocktail scene is ever changing as more people are enjoying cocktails out of the comfort of their homes. Bartenders have perfected their mixology skills and are not shy to showcase their prowess with their signature cocktails. To enjoy a quality cocktail, you must be willing to pay a premium price nonetheless, happy hours deals are your best friend.
E: It has improved immensely. Not only are bartenders learning new ways of making cocktails, but flavour pairings and combinations are starting to be the highlight of every cocktail menu. Going out for just cocktails after work is the new in thing in Kenya and it is great to see restaurants and bars embracing this influx of people by upping their mixology game.
Did you have a favourite cocktail/cocktail menu during the bar crawl or the other week long activities?
E: The Pink Hibiscus cocktail at Ankole was my favourite. The Hibiscus flavour was subtle and paired so well with the botanicals in Hendricks. The goblet it was served in made me feel like I wasn’t just drinking a regular drink.
N: As their tag line reads, Hunters Bar at the Alchemist had ‘bloody good cocktails!’ Of the four cocktails on the menu of which I got to try all, ‘The Baobab Gimlet’ (Hendrick’s Gin, baobab puree, lime Juice (fruity & sweet & sour fizzy) & ‘The Hendrick’s Cucumber Lemonade’ (Hendrick’s Gin, lemon juice, sugar syrup topped with soda water) hit the spot. Despite it being a rainy night, I could feel none of that.
What else caught your attention about the bars you visited?
N: For me, it was all about the experience; the warm welcome from the hostesses, the chat with the bartender as I exchanged my cucumber for the cocktail, the ambience at the venue and the knowledge shared with me about the cocktails or the outlet. In no particular order, The Collective, Hemmigways Nairobi and Que Pasa stood out!
E: Mezze at Four points had the best menu as well as the best decor! Absolutely stunning with so much care and thought put into the vibe.
N: Hemmingways got everything right! Of note was their incorporation of cucumbers in the canapes we enjoyed on the night. I am already salivating from the memory of the feta samosas and salmon cucumber tartine. To our surprise, the name of the mixologist on the night was Hendrick & his Hendricks & Tonic were refreshing and served in glasses larger than life! You could literally drown your face in it 😉.
Of all the places you visited, was there a bar team that left a more lasting impression?
E: Ankole Grill and Lord Eroll had fantastic bartenders who really knew what they were doing. The drinks were crafted to perfection and they added their own flare to the process which was great for me as a content creator. A bartender with a great attitude is always key to having a good time.
N: I would have to say Ankole too. The bartenders at Ankole Grill stood out as they seemed to be having much fun as we were. One of them won my heart with a Hibiscus infused Hendricks & Tonic cocktail. As a lover of hibiscus tea, I was sold by the refreshing red crisp cocktail. I had to get a few more.
What places were you going to for the first time? Did they appeal to you?
I had never been to The Collective and Ankole Grill. What stood out at The Collective was the friendly staff, the ambience, I snapped enough pictures will all the art bringing the space to life. It is definitely a cool space for dinner with friends, I got to also check out their private group dining area which can comfortably accommodate about 15 people.
If you had to pick one spot that checked out all the boxes for you, which one would you pick?
E: Ankole because they also fed us and as a food blogger that is very important to me.
N: The Bar at Hemingways Nairobi is it. Its actually called ‘the bar’. Whether it was on the easy evening after work by the fire place or a cliquey Sunday Hendricks Brunch on the plush lawns, it’s the place to be.