• Sunday, February 25, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Anna Braimah, called to the ‘bar’ twice

Anna-Braimah 2

Early years

It was very interesting. My parents’ marriage was trans-cultural. My father, being Igala, my late mum, Igbo and my paternal grandma, Idoma. We hosted many people in our house in Ikoyi back then and even till now in Abuja. There was always a cousin or relative staying over at ours, or a family friend or a youth corps member who needed a roof over their heads. It’s best left to the imagination just how much cooking had to be done at meal-times. We also hosted dinners to clergy members and bishops from time to time. My father is a papal knight and every now and then, he would host his brother knights and their spouses. We had domestic staff but my mother would have none of that. She made certain we were fully involved in cooking and house chores. My multi-cultural background played a huge and significant role in shaping who I am today.

Mixology

A mixologist is one who is trained in the art of preparation and presentation of drinks, be they mocktails or cocktails. A whole lot goes into the art. One would need to master pour control, creativity is required in the garnish process and of course, customer handling skills is a must.

Law & Mixology

The synergy has worked for me in the sense that both paths require precision and a keen attention to details. As a lawyer, you have to know your onions when citing cases and precedents. You also have to learn how to deal with clients, even the most difficult and irate ones. I have brought all these to bear in my business. Mistakes are not allowed in mixology. Any slight variation changes the taste and appearance of the drink altogether. One has to be fully prepared as a guest could walk up to your bar or stand and request for a particular drink on the spot. Bear in mind that some people know what they requested for and are watching to see you get the ingredients right. You must be vast, keep abreast of new trends and know the recipes  by heart so as not to be taken unawares. I read up on the art of mixology almost every other day as voraciously as I read up for my bar finals. I like to quip jocularly from time to time, that I’ve been called to the ‘bar’ twice.

Mastering the craft

I went for a diploma course in Mixology after I got called to bar. I further got a gentleman who served small chops and cocktails to teach me. I was taught a few recipes. Much later, I went on to train with a lady who ran a cocktail and dessert business, Liquid Ice cocktails. She put me through and taught me more recipes and rudiments of the business. Few years ago, while on vacation in the States, I attended the Texas School of Bartenders and bagged a diploma in Bartending. So I am a certified bartender/mixologist.

I also bake and make desserts and plan events alongside the mixology business. As a lawyer, I handle incorporation jobs every now and then. I’m also a writer and I contribute articles to a particular magazine from time to time.

Anna-Braimah

Goblet and Ice

The name of my company is Goblet and Ice. We are into preparation and serving of drinks. We are also into flair bartending where we add a bit of pizzazz into the art of bartending. We are also into training for not just individuals but also for staff of hotels and other establishments.

Avoiding wrong mixes

Yes, we find that people mix different types of liquor and spirits to get high. Balance is key. As a professional mixologist, it behoves on one to mix and serve drinks that are not highly intoxicating. Moderation should also be applied. You can serve really ‘hot’ drinks in the small shot glasses and not the large ones.

Challenges

There are many challenges. Firstly, the pressure from family and friends to get me to practice law. I don’t have a passion for Law and litigation and I find it a tad restrictive and rigid for my creative side. I know they mean well, so I have to keep assuring them that I know what I’m doing. I know someday I’ll prove them wrong. I’ll get there soon enough by God’s grace.

Secondly, the hazards of the job. It’s a known fact that glassware is very fragile and delicate, so they break every now and then, during packing, washing, storing, whilst on display and even on the move. Clients, most times object paying a caution deposit and as such we find ourselves ploughing the profit back into the business to replace glassware.

Thirdly, upon my return to Nigeria, I found that quite a number of spirits and liquor that I was trained with in the States, were not readily available in the country. I had to comb several markets and wine shops and I found nothing. The shop owners could not mask their surprise when I began reeling names of spirits and liquor that I needed to purchase and as such, I had to tweak most of the recipes and look for substitutes. I had to go back to the drawing board, look for substitutes and organize a free  tasting session just to get what I was looking for. I didn’t relent till I was satisfied with the outcome

Lastly, there is this vibe of cynicism and disdain I get from people when they find out that the bartender is a woman. Sometimes it’s subtle, other times it’s glaring. There is also the issue of under-pricing. A lot of people try to denigrate the profession. Oh yes, it’s a profession. One is bound to hear such statements like- ‘is it not just Fanta and Sprite you are mixing?’. A whole lot goes into the art of mixology and people who don’t understand the technicalities involved, diminish the experience altogether, out of sheer ignorance. That can be quite debilitating and discouraging to the psyche but I’ve learnt to take it in my stride. Like the saying goes: People criticize what they don’t understand.

Clients

My clients are intending couples, others are hotels and executive apartments. There are also those who want to add flair to their parties, alumni associations, ladies who just want to have fun at bridal and baby showers et al.

Words of admonition

Dare to be different, create your own path, follow your heart and learn to stick with your gut instincts. Do what you love and are passionate about. The passion is what would keep you going when you get discouraged and you want to throw in the towel and give up. Add a touch of excellence in all that you do. Be customer-centric. The customer is KING. Give them a wow experience and go the extra mile for them. It keeps them coming back for more.

Kemi Ajumobi