About The Blog
My name is Jer.
Here you will find Cocktails, Jer Originals and Fun ^_^
This blog is about Exploring Responsible Drinking and Embracing The Drinking Culture in Kenya!
Welcome & Grab a Glass!!
I couldn’t hide my excitement when I walked into Uganda Wines & Spirits, Garden City. This might be inappropriate but I really felt like a kid in a candy store!
My eye went straight to the owner’s special collection of very rare, limited edition spirits in the well lit glass cases. Right in my reach but untouchable, it was something like being at the jewellers.
On the right of the first case was a liqueur that has been eluding me for over two years… Midori. I think that once I taste it, it will become my new favourite liqueur and i’ll be tempted to add it to anything and everything.
Don’t be scared by the prices. Once I converted them to Kenya Shillings I assure you it’s all quite reasonable. In fact, when it comes to Smirnoff vodka, it is up to 100 shillings less compared to Kenya.
I’d hate to have to smuggle some of these back after my next visit, but, I see no other choice…
For any budding or fully bloomed mixologist in Kampala, this is the place to shop. With everything from standard spirits, flavoured vodkas, liqueurs and wine, they offer more options at a great price.
Gilbey’s Vodka?? Clearly not their most successful venture… But, I suppose nothing ventured nothing gained.
Advertisement from 1963.
Camel Club is my new favourite cocktail bar without a doubt. When I walked in, my heart broke a little because I wouldn’t have had the slightest idea how to build such a place but they did it 110%.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get the opportunity to do a proper review and take better pictures due to some issues with the communication but that didn’t really stop me.
The ambiance is like that of a tropical cocktail bar in the 60s. Wood floors, custom wood furniture and bar, graphic, well lit display behind the bar and the cutest lamps made from repurposed Hendricks Gin bottles. All that’s missing is me in a cute high waisted skirt and vintage shaker behind the bar.
The staff is friendly and pretty relaxed. The mixologists are great. They seemed both knowledgeable and passionate about cocktails. The best part is, they’re fast.
Second to rude staff, waiting twenty minutes for a drink is the ultimate buzzkill.
Glad they don’t have that problem ^_^ In addition to that, they have one of the most unique cocktail menu’s I have seen yet. From Tiki cocktails to rare ingredients, there are some cocktails you won’t find anywhere else in East Africa.
Cocktails in Kampala, in general, are quite expensive, so it would be difficult to try everything, but I loved what I had. I also got the opportunity to try some of those secret recipe ingredients which they make from scratch. I tried the Infante (pictured above) made with Orgeat Syrup, Falernum, both made from scratch and even Absynthe.
For a chilled night out with a great crowd or during the day it always feels like a vacay. If the staff were dressed a bit more in sync with the whole look and feel of the place and the music was more consistent, preferably some sixties tunes, that would just complete the experience, in my opinion.
I cannot wait to go back! Maybe be a part of their Bartender Exchange Program. Watch this space for my interview with the manager Andrea about their PUBE Program.
Make sure you check out Camel Club’s facebook page for details on their awesome themed Happy Hour and upcoming Events.
Located right next to our old favorite, Bubbles O’leary’s, it would be easy to miss the Big Mike’s entrance if you aren’t familiar with the area. But, I suppose, so are most of the gems in Kampala.
With a reputation for being the ‘Kampala’s Best Cocktail Bar’, Big Mike’s turned out to be a great place to catch up with my friends over a quality cocktail.
Typical of Kampala bars and nightclubs, there is more than one section and seating area, each with its own vibe. From comfy lounge chairs to barstools there’s something for every mood and situation.
Their cocktail menu is one of my favourite, with lots of pictures and an easy layout. I hate it when I feel oppressed by a menu, as if, I should know the meaning of everything in it and I shouldn’t be here if I don’t.
I went straight to the Martini’s and found this interesting Smokey Martini. I had to try it just to see how on earth they could make these flavours work together. Top shelf whiskey, dry vermouth and olives? I’m surprised at how it turned out.
Personally, I hate olives. That’s why I always garnish my martini’s with a cocktail onion. My friend Gayathry loved it, but, I think it could do without the olive. This is one of those cocktails for the connoisseurs - as the waiter informed me - otherwise it would be sent back.
The 2nd cocktail I ordered based on the Manager’s recommendation was right up my alley. I explained that I prefer citrus cocktails so he brought me a Fruit Caiprioska. This was a group favourite. With the tropical weather and friendly environment, a Caiprioska is the perfect cooldown! It’s a cocktail that’s fruity and packs a punch.
Remember drinking is always fun when it’s done responsibly!
Dry Martini and Hawaiian Vodka [June 2012]
Just as if the stars aligned, the Annual Vintage car show was on the weekend I arrived at the Sheraton Hotel, Kampala. I couldn’t pass up the chance to dress up and do a little ‘window shopping’.
My first favourite was the car from 1927. I just wanted to hop in and drive up to Babettes Supper Club for Champagne and cocktails with Enoch Thompson…
Now this Buggy is what I imagine would be perfect for a summer afternoon picnic. I’d turn this little suitcase into an ice cooler for beer, or a portable bar.
Last but definitely not least, the sidecar. One of my favourite cognac cocktails is named after this [recipe here]. This bike was actually up for sale helmet and all!
Sun, bright green lawn, cold drinks and vintage skirts… That’s how I like to spend a Saturday afternoon.
|| Wind Down Whiskey Wednesday at Fuego Cocktail Bar & Restaurant ||
Fuego has been what some might call my ‘home pub’ in Kampala since 2011, when I was chubby girl whose job description was simply having fun… I guess by that description my job hasn’t changed much.
Going back after a year and a half i’m so pleased to see Franco’s[owner] plans coming to life. Quiet and green, nestled on the corner of Muyenga and Kabalagala it has only gotten more beautiful since I was here last. A new outdoor bar, more simple wood seating, a larger, cool terrace… There is something fresh about the air. The vibe of something new with the comfort of the old.
The only place that seemed quite untouched, and gratefully so, was the seating area inside the house. Pictures of Jimi Hendrix and Frank Sinatra on the walls, the wrap around balcony overlooking the more formal dining on the grass. I go there any chance I get, to catch up with my friends over a drink and some Pizza, date night, Shisha, even to work on my laptop.
It was a nice change from my usual vodka on the rocks to enjoy some irish whiskey. I just wanted something light and fragrant to slowly wind down the day, so, I added a splash of water to help bring the floral aromas to the forefront, diluting it at the same time. The ice came later as the Kampala heat demanded.
The restaurant boasts some of the best Pizza in Kampala as well as authentic Eritrean cuisine. A cocktail of quality food, affordability, variety of comfortable seating areas, jazz from the Swingin’ Sixties, relaxing ambiance and welcome company is what I love about Fuego. Fuego is without a doubt a major contributor to the Kampala heat.
Garden City is one of Kampala’s oldest malls. In fact, when I moved here almost six years ago, it was one of only two malls in the country. Practically flooded with people at the time, it’s quite a contrast from the scene today.
There are more quality food and drink establishments now, and yet, it is quite empty. It seems that terrorist threats as well as the opening of Nakumatt right next door has diluted the crowd.
My favourite new addition has to be the Element Cafe. Located right next to Aristoc, It’s a cute little chinese cafe centered around their rare, quality tea beverages.
Not only is there a wide range of tea options on the menu, but they also have a great selection of tea products on sale for home use.
The best thing about the menu is how it included additional information on the health benefits of each item.
As a blogger, I find quite a bit of my time is spent indoors, in front of a computer. I never really noticed before but this can have a dulling effect of the skin. I ordered a drink that is perfect to add moisture to the skin while cleansing it from the inside out.
This is the Honey Grapefruit Tea. You can enjoy it hot or cold, it’s a treat either way! Sweet while still bringing out the tart cirtus of the grapefruit. It was hot but I finished it so quickly. You want to savour it but one sip just begs for the next.
It might be in the middle of the mall, but it stands alone on a little island surrounded by lush plants and warm wood features. Their display case could be spruced up a little, perhaps painting it a dark brown to match the other furniture and a little more attention could be paid to the placement of the furniture.
As I’ve come to expect in Kampala, the service staff is slow and disinterested. I asked the waitress for her recommendation on what to order - as I always do - and she replies ‘I don’t know what you want to drink’. You might not have tried the menu, but I think any good waiter, waitress and mixologist should have a go to item on the menu they are knowledgeable about to recommend.
The experience was quite relaxing but it could have been a little bit more zen if the Bukkede TV blaring in the background was replaced with sounds of nature or some spa music.
If you’re looking for some specialty quality teas for your home, these guys have the best selection and variety I have seen yet at affordable prices. The packaging even includes additional information about brewing and health benefits.
Getting back in touch with the elements at Element Fresh, Garden City is a great Tea Tuesday treat.
An UnNamed Jer Original… Seems fitting for the season, although, I wish I could remember the recipe.
I had no idea how time consuming my work would be or how long i’d be here…
When it comes to Kampala, my advice? Better get the peak of relaxation out of the way first. Just in case ^_^. Only after I arrived at the Speke Resort did I realise how much i’ve needed this. I could barely hide my excitement as I got searched at the gate. Not even terror threats could get me down.
My only fear at the time was whether or not prices had gone up and would have to settle for swimming in the lake and jogging around the field. Don’t get me wrong, Speke’s man-made beach and jogging track is absolutely picturesque, overlooking the surrounding islands with beautiful, white boats on the lake… But, I’ve lived in East Africa long enough to really appreciate a first class gym and olympic size swimming pool.
Lucky for me, the only thing that has gone up is my age. For only 20,000/= UgShs [700 Kshs] I got full use of the gym and swimming pool. Thank God for the exchange rate! It’s impossible to get such value for money in Nairobi.
The drinks are a little bit on the higher side, with a most beers at a cost of UG 7,500/=. I didn’t mind though because it was early in the week and I was doing a lot of exercise; water, water and more water.
The only room for improvement would have to be the service. Everyone moves at such a slow pace, taking their time and the gym staff can be a little bit more active. There seems to be an overall lack of enthusiasm.. I wish there was someone at the gym to give me some advice and attend to some of the questions I had about the equipment. I wish the waiter would have tried to up sell the drinks a little and give me some more information about the menu. But then again, maybe i’d be as slow and relaxed if I worked in this beautiful, tropical place everyday.
Sitting by the pool after a sweaty workout, reading The Immigrants, enjoying some cold Rwenzori water… What a way to start the week!
Remember, drinking is always fun when it’s done responsibly. I like to avoid alcohol and do the bulk of my work out early in the week for a number of great reasons. After a weekend of going out and drinking with friends, your body needs a break to recover from the loss of nutrients as well as the high caloric intake. Drinking lots of water and exercising is an excellent way to purge toxins and refresh your body while burning those extra alky calories.
I can’t say i’m really the vacay taking type, so when the opportunity came up to travel to Kampala for a few days, it would be disrespectful if I didn’t bring along a swimsuit and chilled out mood.
Leaving behind my shaker, I headed to Uganda to catch up with my best friends and see if the cocktail culture is more vibrant than I left it.
After doing a little bit of research, I knew exactly where to fill my glass. So, on my agenda, I had two main cocktail bars to check out: Big Mike’s & the Camel Club, My all time favourites : Speke Resort, Munyonyo & Fuego as well as squeezing in some time to indulge my love for the vintage!
This week, welcome and grab a glass as we drink in some of Kampala’s sun ^_^
Remember, drinking is always fun when it’s done responsibly…
Guy offered to drive drunk people home for free at night.
Here are some complementary flavours when picking the right garnish…
A few weeks ago, some friends called me up to hang out. I was not about to leave the house for anything, seeing as I had only just gotten home, so I suggested they come over to Jer’s Bar.
Now, if you’re like me, these impromptu plans might not come often, but when they do, it’s at the most awkward time. The last thing I want to do is handle a cold shaker, over and over, whilst trying to maintain and entertain on a cold tuesday night! So, here’s how I handled it…
First, I had to get rid of the shaker in the equation. I thought, “If I make a cocktail in a pitcher, that would free me up to socialise and not get stuck behind the bar. I also wouldn’t have to handle the ice often” ^_^
With that sorted, all I had to figure out was the cocktail. Being a Tuesday, tea was the obvious choice. I had made some iced tea earlier in the day, a secret recipe involving blueberry, apple and cinnamon that would work perfectly as the base of the drink.
To it I added :
> approx 1/2 cup of Cointreau [to sweeten]
> approx 1/2 cup of Creme De Menthe [Works perfectly with any flavour of tea!]
> 1/2 cup White Rum
> splash of apple juice
> Orange slices and Mint [For an extra dose of freshness and to garnish]
This has to be one of the tastiest iced tea cocktails I have made yet. All that was left was a cute cocktail dress, my cute house shoes and some ice cubes. It turned out to be a great way to end the day with friends. I got great comments from everyone and we were all left tastefully tipsy… just how I like it.
As a side note: How can one tell how fresh a sprig of mint is?? Sight? Smell? Taste? Perhaps all… You can’t lose by engaging all your senses!
p.s. I didn’t use those in the cocktail ^_~
Drinking is always fun when it’s done responsibly. As the host of any gathering, it is your responsibility to make sure that everybody get’s home safe. Make sure you have a list of trustworthy cabs to call for your guests. Never Drink & Drive, Drink & Dial.