Why settle for wine straight from the bottle when you can mix things up by using it for your new favorite cocktail instead? Awash Winery is discovering new ways to reinvent the cocktail culture in Ethiopia with its new exotic and refreshing wine-based cocktails. Sure, there is nothing like the classic chilled Kemila or Gouder wine, but a little Awash and a little creativity can certainly go a long way.
Awash Winery has become a household name in the Ethiopian winery market. For 60 years, the company has made a collection of wines that are renowned and loved by wine lovers as well as non-wine lovers throughout the country. Their four classic wines Kemila, Awash, Gouder and Axumit are synonymous with big Ethiopian celebrations. It is hard to imagine any wedding, festival or exhibition without one of these classic wines. As the country’s leading wine makers, Awash continues to showcase its ingenuity to mix things up with its new wine-based Tekesheno cocktails.
With Awash Tekesheno, wine lovers can now enjoy 12 refreshing cocktails. The new cocktails consist of different types of liquors, specifically vodka, rum and gin, a variety of fruits, and of course the classic Awash wines.
Enkoy Teshome and Samson Hailu, the founding partners of AmplifyET, a consulting company for Awash Wine say that inspiration behind the new cocktails are in fact the Ethiopian people. It became evident that people started understanding the concept of mixed drinks because they were using the Awash wines in the traditional turbo drink which combines wine, beer and Sprite. From there, the Awash Winery and AmplifyET set out to get in the mixed-drink market and promote the lifestyle.
“We wanted to make these cocktails [part of] a lifestyle so that everyone can recognize and enjoy Awash wine in a new, exotic and exciting way,” Enkoy says. “A few months ago, we started by mixing Awash and budda wine with all types of liquors. Along the way we encouraged people to come up with their own special recipes and in May 2016 we launched our first activation. Now, we have 12 cocktails and activated 400 local outlets in Addis.”
In 2013, 8 Miles LLP, a private equity fund focused on African development, and Mulugeta Tesfakiros, a local entrepreneur, became the company’s owners. Since then, the company produces nearly seven million liters of various kinds of wines annually under 12 brands, including the well-known Axumite, Gouder and Awash.
With Tekesheno cocktails, Awash winery has established another market by working closely with local bartenders and mixologist. The research and experimenting process for the drinks took about a month to perfect. The people who did not like the drink were the main focus for the company. They made sure to make those little changes to the drink based on different people’s preference.
“Everyone has their own preference and sometimes we don’t know why. When we asked people to explore their taste buds, we figured out what actually works. We didn’t allow ourselves to just follow one mixology pattern,” Enkoy says.
Awash Tekesheno is responding to this perfect storm of supply and demand by creating this delectable new creation. And so far customers all around Addis are enthusiastically enjoying the variety of flavored cocktails.
Although the growing success of the drinks can be attributed to many factors, the single most important elements, according to Enkoy, are the people. The company gives people the opportunity to realize their potential through bartending training classes. So far 800 bartenders have been trained to make the specialty drinks in local hotspots across Addis.
“The bartenders are the middlemen,” Samson Hailu, says “They are the people who sell these products. When a person completes the training classes and is certified, they become Awash ambassadors. They represent the brand, they promote it, they sell it and they are proud of it.”
According to Samson, these training classes are not limited to just bartenders. Generally, there is a wide variety of people who take the classes. This opens the door to a more consumer based cocktail training because most of the classes are sponsored by Awash Winery. The classes also encourage all trainees to create their very own special recipes. The most promising cocktail as well as the bartender who created it would be featured on the Awash Tekesheno website.
“So many people take the class to possess skills. They want to use these skills at home for a group of friends. These classes essentially inspire people to become creative and make the drinks. And the best part is, the most you will spend on ingredients for these drinks are around 300-400 birr. This is exactly why Awashgria is my go-to drink to make. It’s easy, inexpensive and tastes really good,” Samson says. How much for this delicious brew? “It depends on the venue but on average its 200-300 birr for three people to share,” Samson says.
The Awashgria is one drink that the company serves at the Tekesheno activation events. The drink consists of Awash wine, vodka, gin, pineapple Ambo sparkling water, slice of grapefruit and pineapple lemon; and that has become a favorite among many Ethiopians.
Yonas Abu, an Addis Ababan who attended the activation at Tekeze Hotel in Kazanchis said that he enjoyed the Awashgria very much. Yonas has been a fan of Awash wine for 10 years.
“I stopped drinking many years ago and recently started drinking Awash wine because it was a healthy choice for me,” he says. Now, I can really enjoy the exciting flavors that Awash offers,” Yonas says, “And most importantly, the variety of drinks makes it easier to enjoy social outings and gathering with my girlfriend. So, thank you Awash Winery.”
What makes this wine-based cocktail so unique is its practical potential for consumers. These cocktails are customary to the taste of each person. If a person prefers their drink to be stronger they can add more liquor. If a person wants their drink to be lighter they can add more fruits. These cocktails can be specifically catered to the needs of the consumer both at home and while they are out and about.
People can make the drinks from home using the Awash Tekesheno application. The app is available in the iPhone App Store and Google Play store. It gives people access to get creative and have some fun with the 12 cocktail recipes. The app delineates the cocktails into three sections: Awash based cocktails, Gouder based cocktails and latest creation cocktails. It provides all the necessary information about Awash Tekesheno cocktails and the campaign in addition to all health information, all latest created cocktails, updated event information, and a collection of best events. The events section is specifically dedicated to major events sponsored by Awash Wine.
There is no denying that Awash Tekesheno is working to transform the cocktail culture in Ethiopia. Awash Winery has created an upmarket drink that is modern but still traditional sourced. The next step for Awash Tekesheno is to make the cocktails a comfortable brand for Ethiopians and foreigners to enjoy. Currently, the brand is looking to branch out and have their drink served in a permanent local establishment. With the experience and reputation of Awash Winery, Awash Tekesheno potentially has a bright future ahead.
Contributed by Alexa Noel