Kenya Masai Mara

A Gin Master, bespoke cocktails and wine training

When you stay at any of our Masai Mara camps, you will find yourself immersed in the heart of the action; the Marsh Pride of lions are known to stalk the camp grounds at night, in search of a habituated warthog who’s let his guard down, while territorial hippos emerge from the water, munching discreetly at the perimeter of your tent.

There are no fences here which means that the wildlife can come and go as it pleases.  One of the better known personalities, Blossom the elephant, simply arrives through the main entrance, casually sauntering straight past the reception desk and down towards the bar, where he can rest his weary head and greet everyone at the same time.

Blossom the elephant

Blossom leaving Governors’ Camp

Those of you who have come to know Blossom on a previous visit, may have heard about about a locally crafted gin we serve – Procera. It is distilled in Nairobi at 1,638 metres above sea level and not only is it the world’s first gin to use Juniperus Procera – which is harvested just 70 kilometres from the distillery – it is a favourite for aficionados and casual consumers alike. Governors’ was the first camp to serve Procera in Kenya and we offer a unique gin-tasting set up on the banks of the Mara River.

Sundowners on the banks of the Mara River

Aside from our idyllic sundowner spot just south of the equator, another place that is well-known for serving this top gin, is the famous Duke’s Bar which is tucked away down a side street in London’s upmarket Mayfair. If you are a fan of gins, then you must know of this legendary haunt! And if you’re familiar with Duke’s Bar, then you’ve almost certainly been served by their Gin MasterAlessandro Palazzi – who also holds the title, Maestro of Martinis.

Alessandro Palazzi behind our bar at Il Moran

A couple of years ago, Alessandro added Procera to the menu at Duke’s Bar and this October, Procera invited Alessandro to Kenya. We are hugely grateful to the maker of Procera gin – Guy Brennan – who gave us the opportunity to host this fascinating mixologist who holds almost fifty years of bartending under his belt, at our beautiful camp in the Masai Mara, where we ourselves, have recently celebrated five decades of exceptional safari experiences.

Alessandro using Procera gin in a cocktail

It was arranged for Alessandro to spend two days at Governors’ Il Moran, not only training our staff on all things gin, but to also establish Procera as a core part of the Kenya safari experience, with a bespoke cocktail menu at each of our Mara camps, designed by one of the world’s most famous barmen.

With staff at Il Moran

With Alessandro’s direction and guidance, we have curated three different cocktails for different ‘moments’ in the day, that our guests can enjoy during a stay with us. First up is a highball classic, a Procera G&T plinking with oversized ice cubes, a slice of lemon and a sprig of lemon balm from our herb garden – not forgetting a dash of botanical salt. To be served in a wine glass or goblet (the preference is yours) while out on an afternoon game drive – or at our traditional ‘safari bar’ set up – just as the sun goes down.

A classic gin and tonic is a huge part of any safari 

The pre-dinner winner is a Martini – Duke’s style of course, while a glowing-red Negroni is highly suggested as your ‘around the campfire’ choice, perfectly pre-batched and stirred down on ice, just at the last minute. “This is how the world’s top bars do their negronis” says Guy Brennan.

The crisp and bitter Negroni cocktail

Wine training was also on our agenda and who better paired for the job than Melissa Mwende – a Kenyan sommelier, wine educator and founder of the Little Wine Basket. She was one of five finalists who represented Kenya in the World Blind Tasting Championship held in Champagne Ayala, France last year.

Melissa trains staff at our flagship property – Governors’ Camp 

“It took me participating in the 2022 Wine Olympics to show that my career is not just about drinking wine. For the first time, an all-five-female team represented Kenya in a Wine Olympics which attracted 31 countries, most with a long history of grape-growing and vineyards,” explains Melissa.

In partnership with our wine supplier, Under the Influence, Melissa successfully trained and empowered our bar and wait staff, increasing their overall knowledge of wine through the basics of wine etiquette, tips on wine service as well as food and wine pairing.

Diving deep into the world of wine

By Jess Savage, all images by Harry Blakey.

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