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Africa to host cocktail festival Ajabu

Bacardi’s Colin Asare-Appiah and U’Luvka Vodka founder Mark Talbot Holmes will launch Ajabu, a spirits and cocktail festival, in South Africa next year.

Ajabu founders Colin Asare-Appiah and Mark Talbot Holmes
L-R: Ajabu founders Colin Asare-Appiah and Mark Talbot Holmes

The inaugural festival will be held in two locations, Johannesburg (10-13 March) and Cape Town (13-18 March).

Held biannually, Ajabu aims to become Africa’s leading spirits and cocktail festival.

Ajabu, which in Swahili means ‘wondrous’ or ‘amazing’, seeks to embrace the diversity of the hospitality industry across Africa and connect brands, bar trade, media and cocktail fans.

The March edition of Ajabu will be followed by another week-long event across both cities in November, held in partnership with Cape Town Beverage Show.

“Ajabu is a platform to celebrate Africa’s vibrant spirit and bartending culture,” said Asare-Appiah, who is also the author of Black Mixcellence.

“We’re committed to fostering the growth of the hospitality industry across the continent by inspiring and empowering the bartending community to push the boundaries of their craft while providing a unique platform to showcase the diverse and rich culture of African drinks and ingredients.”

Among the international bars taking part in the festival are Library by the Sea in the Cayman Islands, Milady’s in New York City, Mexico-based Rayo and London’s Trailer Happiness.

These teams will partner with bars across Africa, such as Front Back (Ghana) and Hero (Nairobi), for a week of educational sessions, forums, wine tours, and dinners at local Johannesburg and Cape Town venues.

In Johannesburg, festivalgoers can experience bars such as Sin + Tax, Saint, Smoking Kills, Cin Cin Zioux, Mesh Club, and Marabi Club.

Meanwhile, Cape Town will host activities at Cause/Effect, Art of Duplicity, Chef’s Warehouse, Hacienda, The Drinkery, House of Machines, Asoka, and Talking to Strangers.

The festival has also partnered with brothers Kurt and Etienne Schlechte, and writer and educator Leah Van Deventer. Kurt is the founder of Cause/Effect in Cape Town while Etienne established the South African Bartenders Guild.

More details of Ajabu’s global bar line-up will be announced in due course.

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