Mellisa Njiru's charm behind the bar is irresistible. Rivaling her warm personality, it is easy to see why she is so likeable. I met this talented woman mixologist when barskenya team covered the Jameson Bartender's Ball a few months back. A competition that was set up to uncover fresh talent in the mixology world, Mellissa not only showed the judges that she was top crop, but she also managed to clinch the top 3 position and represent the Kenyan team to a trip to Ireland.
So who exactly is Mellisa Njiru? We decided to pay her a visit at her lively bar in Roysambu area. Named the 'Bar Chef' this establishment is really setting the trend for quality drinks in an area where people appreciate the 'regular' stuff. Such a game changer truly deserves a welcome seat to our table, so here we go!
You were among the top 3 mixologists at the Jameson
Mixmaster Competition. What was your winning secret?
Being a good presenter,making an impeccable drink,being
creative,taking as minimum time as possible and before I got to the point of
presenting it,I made sure I'd done enough research and exercise.
How long have you been bartending?
This year makes it the third and i would say it has been a delightful journey which is still a learning process.
How did you get started in mixology? Did you have some
kind of formal training, or had you just been a bartender for a while?
Well, when I got into the industry I started out as a
hostess and with time I discovered bar tending. It seemed fascinating and so I
started training with the people who were behind the bar and to take it a notch
higher,I started collecting books concentrating on liquors, wine, cocktails and
beers for the sake of product knowledge.
In 2014 there was a cocktail competition and I scooped 3rd position which
proved it wasn't all in vain. Followed then was the Jameson Mixmaster
competition which I took 2nd position.
You run your own bar (The Bar Chef) with your better
half. When did you launch it and how has been the journey so far?
This marks the second year in operation and it has
been a rollercoaster.But keeping in mind that everyday is a learning process
and accommodating room for improvement,we make sure that we provide the best of
service,always have irresistible offers,great entertainment and proper stock up
to keep our clients coming back and happy.
What is the concept behind The Bar Chef and what
unique offerings are you giving your customers?
Being a cocktail bar, our main focus is to diversify the cocktail culture and to make sure it is available to all categories. The Bar Chef targets the youth and kawaida mwananchi with cocktail prices as low as 100 shillings and also other premium brands.All of this can either be to go or to be enjoyed within.
As a woman, what is the best part about bartending?
We tend to stand out more especially if we are working
with men and I would say its due to the fact that it's intriguing and when we
deliver on a professional level there usually is some sort of respect that
feels good. We also get the opportunity to meet amazing people from all
walks of life.
What is most challenging about what you do?
The working hours can be a bit stretched and having to
deal to intoxicated people,it tends to be overwhelming but with
time,patience,passion for what you do,the right attitude and great PR
skills,all this is manageable.
Can you tell us about some of the famous cocktails you've made and where you get your
Well,my top two would be The raspberry guru and The
coin.Both of their inspiration comes from the culinary section...just as
cooking involves mixing and merging flavour so is mixology and not to mention
am a great chef.
What are your top 3 greatest tips on how to booze like a boss?
1. Just as commercial adverts say, “excessive
consumption of alcohol is harmful to your health, drink responsibly
2. Alcohol is called a social lubricant,so drink just to enjoy not to over do.
3. Avoid BINGE DRINKING.