To mark International Women’s Day, we are celebrating the talent of Nairobi’s Best Bartender Joan Samia.It comes as no secret that throughout history females have been sorely under-represented in the “Bartending Halls of Fame.” Even in 2021, there are still some people who consider bars and pubs as a domain only meant for men. International Women’s Day serves as an important reminder of the work that has already been done in the fight for gender equality in all fields. After 10 minutes of shaking up one whisky sour, Joan Samia was crowned DIAGEO world class bartender. She is one of the stars that have shone through and continue to do so today. We had the honor of interacting with the trailblazing woman that is Samia as she shared a few facts that we would like to know about her craft! What started you off in the bartending industry? I started off bartending from curiosity, from being a waiter, and my admiration for the creativity behind the bar led me to want to go behind the bar and make my own creations and see how everything goes. initially when I started, I never thought I would fall in love with bartending and that this would be my career. When did you notice that you had a passion in curating cocktails? Soon after I joined the bar my interest in cocktails and the knowledge behind every spirit grew and I wanted to know it all, and thankfully I had mentors who saw my passion and helped me nature it What do you like about Cocktails? The fact that just like food, we can all be given the same ingredients but come out with different tastes. cocktails kind tells a personality by how you order. Also the fact that you keep discovering more ways to alter taste and more flavors along the way. you just can never know it all. it’s an everyday experience of taste bud adventure What makes a good cocktail?Balance and knowing what compliments what in terms of the spirit being used and herbs or other ingredients that go into it. it’s just not just about mixing. Of all the cocktails that you have made, which one has the most interesting flavors? My first ever competition cocktail, it was a Tom kha soup inspired cocktail. looked like the soup with the infusions that go into the soup, and it is one of my all-time favorites, which kind of calls for an acquired taste for Thai food. What is your favorite type of alcoholic drink? I like Rum How do you take your rum? In a highball, ice, squeeze of lime and coke For very many years, bartending has been known as a male dominated field. Can you describe some of the challenges that you have experienced as a woman?Luckily the industry is more accepting of female bartenders than before. Unlike when female bartenders were seen as a decoration behind the bar. I would say my biggest challenge was being accepted as one with the same capabilities and knowledge as the male bartenders. And had to push myself hard to prove it. What advice would you give any lady who is just starting up in this industry. It’s not an easy job, one has to be ready for the long working hours, make lots of sacrifice balancing work and family but be determined and arm themselves with knowledge all round on bartending skills and spirits. The rest is working hard to make it work.