A choice between Maldives and Kenya was a no-brainer for Angelique Rivera aka Angel, the renowned mixologist and finalist for the 2018 World Class Kenya Bartender of the Year title. The finale for the bartending competition will be held on June 27 this year in Nairobi. The winner of the contest will represent Kenya in the international competition in Berlin, Germany, late in the year.
She found an unexpected love for 254 after spending a few days checking out the urban culture. The new Zing Bar mixologist at dusitD2, a native of Philippines, has over eight years experience in the hospitality industry.
“I was a nursing student in early 2000s before finding my love behind the bar. When I realised medicine was not for me, I started drinking. The pressure was too much,” said Angel.
Angel has worked with some of the leading global hotel brands such as Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts and possesses a vast knowledge of the industry.
“In 2006, I decided to take up a course at the Asian Bartending Academy in Makati, Philippines, where I studied bartending and mixology. In the same year, I attended the Midland Plaza Training Centre in Manila, Philippines, where I took up training in hospitality and cruise ship. I later travelled to China and worked in a restaurant as a singer and hostess to make ends meet. Because of this, I was unable to complete my studies in bartending due to financial constraints,” she said.
After spending two years in China, Angel decided to pursue her passion for bartending in the Middle East and travelled to Qatar where she underwent vocational training and received a Level Two award from Wine and Spirit Educational Trust (WSET). It is here that she began working for the Four Seasons Hotel in Qatar.
“After five years, in 2014, I transferred to the Four Seasons Hotel in Dubai where they were launching a new Hendricks Bar. The year 2016 was a busy year for me as I got offered two jobs — in the first half, I worked at the Jumeirah International Hotel at the Zero Gravity Bar; an international beach club where I worked with 45 bartenders, which was a new experience for me. The second half of the year, I realised I wanted to go back working at a five-star hotel and was part of the opening team of the W Lounge at the trendy W Hotel in Dubai,” shares Angel.
She worked at the W Lounge until the end of 2016 when she was offered another job at the Meraas LLC, Big Chefs Café and Brasserie Dubai. She became the first female supervisor. She worked there for 11 months before eventually making the move to 254.