The Best Dawa Cocktail in Town

It is a temperamental Monday afternoon when we head up to the Swiss Lenana Mount in Kilimani. We have a date with Tom and are anxious to arrive. The bar is at the back of the exquisite lounge. Passing from the brightly lit reception, past the winding staircase, and to the dim, warm, cozy bar is…comforting. Lobby Bar is what they call it.

The bar décor is important because it gives the first hint of exactly what sort of place the Swiss International is. You can have a conversation here. You can have a quiet drink at the end of the day. There is no intimidation either; you do not have to break your bank account to feel like one of the regulars. All these things are wonderful but they are not what we are here for.

Tom is the resident mixologist at the Swiss International. With the July chill settling into the city outside, it was the perfect day to sample cocktails.

First is a Nairobi native and favorite, the cold dawa. Not yet part of the menu, the dawa is Tom’s specialty drink. He prepares the ginger infusion himself and uses the best quality honey for it.

As a garnish, Angostura bitters is sprinkled onto the finished cocktail. The dawa, more than many cocktails, is all about proportion and Tom nails it. The feeling we’re left with is that if he served just the dawa he would do just fine.

Next up were the mojito and the long island iced tea. These are standard classics but to these too Tom adds his own touch. The mojito is made with white rum necessary for the light, fresh cocktail to maintain its defining characteristics. Crushed mint is added to the mix and the ginger infusion comes into play as well. The result is a herby mojito perfect for those who could do without the sugar syrup.

The long island ice tea is not overpowering - adds hair to the chest but is not a kick to it. The highlight of the evening is the hot dawa served in a heated tumbler, the flavors of ginger and honey heightened by the heat and the bourbon are just what the doctor ordered this now cold Nairobi afternoon.

There is a definite feeling that the bar at Swiss International is starting something special. It could become a place where people meet at the end of a long work day or on a lazy weekend and while away the hours. It is a beautiful space and could come to be the go to watering hole for those seeking a calm night out.

Really on the lounge and even on the rooftop with unbelievable views of the city, it will almost feel like a calm night in with a very talented bar tender.

P/S As a welcome gesture- they also give their guests some delicious complimentary biting with each drink(s). HINT: Ask for their BBQ Wings!