Lara Rawa speaks on exciting twists at Lagos Cocktail Week 2021
By Yemisi Suleiman
It is an exciting time for lagoscians as one of Lagos’s most exciting events ‘The Lagos Cocktail Week’ returns after a one-year Covid 19 break. The event which kicked off from Thursday, October 7th, 2021 to run thru October 16th, 2021, with the grand finale at the Balmoral Marquee, Federal Palace Hotel, Victoria Island, promises to be nothing short of exciting.
Founder of the Lagos Cocktail Week and CEO of Eventi Cocktails Lara Rawa, an award-winning mixologist alongside her partners have brought on board some prestigious liquor; Fayrouz, Desperados, Absolut Vodka, Star Radler, Jameson, Olmeca Tequila, Beefeater Gin, Johnnie Walker, and many others for an exhilarating experience this year.
The event began, with a conference that spells out the values that the partners share; drinking responsibly and above all celebrating Nigerians in their diverse ways and taste. Subsequently, an intriguing cocktail village from October 15 to 16 will be erected that allows all guests to explore the nature of each brand and its essence.
Lara Rawa who holds a Law degree from the University of Lagos, and currently a student at the Lagos Business School where she’s studying for her MBA, tells us what to expect at this year’s event amongst other issues.
What is the focus of the Lagos Cocktail week?
We are here for the Lagos Cocktail week 2021 and this is the 7th edition. The 7th edition should actually have held last year but due to the pandemic we couldn’t do the 7th edition. Also there is a twist to the competition this year. What we usually do for the grand finale is to have one winner but because we want to boost the morale of the bartenders because they were deeply affected in the hospitality industry by the pandemic last year. We planned to have different challenges for different brands and for the brands to also give them prizes. We also insisted that the prize should be cash prizes and they agreed with us. So, today the bartenders have picked the ballot to know what challenge they will be participating in and also hear from the brands regarding the competition and what the challenge prize will be.
How did the Lagos Cocktail Week begin?
I think Cocktail found me. I just like to drink cocktails and I think I started my own business about 12 years ago but I am also a mixologist. I am an entrepreneur as well. I have my own cocktail brand and it is called the Eventi cocktails and we are into lots of events. Whilst I was doing this, I felt that I wanted to do more in the industry and that was how I stumbled upon London Cocktail week and then I went to London Cocktail week as a volunteer to work with them..Whilst I was in London with them, I was also thinking of how to do the same thing in Nigeria, that was how the whole idea came and I started the Lagos Cocktail week.
7 years down the line, how has it been so far?
Initially, it wasn’t easy but I knew where I was going and I needed to show people that vision. So, it wasn’t easy but I believed that with consistency and hard work the brands we are working with today, have seen the positivity of the Lagos Cocktail week and what we stand for.Our three pillars include education, information and entertainment. And we have always done that. I am glad that the brands believed in the vision and they have always supported the vision. There are people as well who believe in the vision and who have always supported the vision as well.So, I am grateful for their support and that is what has propelled the Lagos Cocktail week to this extent.
What are the challenges you face in putting this together?
Initially it was funding but I always would work on hanging fruits. I started small and I would go to hotels and tell them to support me. They will give me the support and I would manage it, tailor it to soothe what I have. I always believe in humble beginnings because that is the way you can now tell the story. I am glad that I started the way I did because I never loose sight of my objective and I can see bartenders who are happy. That is the joy for me. When I go to bars and see them they are excited, that means you are impacting lives. Getting them to compete and winning monies that they can use to start something..
Apart from finance what are some of the other challenges?
It was for people to understand what you are doing because that is key. The platform has always been for bartenders. So, I look around today and see the Presidents of Bartenders Guild as well the Events and beverages Association. These are the umbrellas, the platforms where you have the bartenders and seeing them here means that we are doing the right thing. Now that they understand, the sky is not just the beginning for us.
The sector is congested with many who are not certified. Do you intend to regulate the sector?
That is the job for the Associations to do. The entry into the industry is quite low, easy entry level and there are so many things that you would see. I believe that part of the objective of the Associations is to put in stringent conditions for entry. I believe that this is something they would look into and do eventually.