Drinking In... Nairobi
Kenya’s capital is a hot bed for burgeoning artists and fashion designers. Naturally, a sizzling nightlife follows suit in response to the creative pulse.
Sunny Dolat, brand ambassador/fashion guru of Nairobi’s African-chic boutique hotel, Tribe, speaks of the Nairobi scene, “In the last few years, the cocktail and club scene has gotten much more cosmopolitan. There’s a whole street called Electric Avenue with club after club.”
Although Nairobi's craft cocktail movement is still in its infancy, gadabouts in Nairobi know how to shake a groove until the wee hours (most bars are open until 4 am on weekends), so a night out in Nairobi is more about the people you're with rather than paying a visit to the hottest new bartender.
Part of Nairobi’s stylish jetsetter crowd and co-founder of African fashion e-store Chico Leco, we wanted to know Dolat’s 5 favorite places to go out in Nairobi. Here’s what he said:
Champagne & Fishbowls: In homage to their moniker, Seven Restaurant’s Champagne & Fishbowls bar serves up Veuve Cliquot champagne and giant cocktails in actual fishbowls. It’s a swimmingly good time for you and about a dozen of your closest friends. Their signature fish bowl cocktails are Seven’s Tsunami (like a massive beergarita made of Heineken and tequila), De-fish-ency (vibrant ocean blue colored of vodka, blue curaçao, and pineapple juice) and The Piranha (tequila, dark rum, raspberry liqueur, fresh strawberries). The Ice Cream cocktails are also a favorite with specialties like Cookies & Cream and Strawberry Shortcake.
Mercury Lounge: After your fishing excursion at Fishbowls, mosey next door to Mercury Lounge, a swanky club and cocktail bar similar to one you’d find in London or Los Angeles. On weekdays, it’s a mellow place to listen to jazz and on the weekends it’s hopping with house music from live DJs. Cocktail menu covers the basics like margaritas, mojitos and caipirinhas.
Gipsy Bar: Gipsy has a little something for whatever mood you find yourself in with three bars and a restaurant under one roof. The Crimson Lounge, with its euro-Moroccan décor, is ideal when you want a low-key night out, sharing some shisha with friends. Gipsy Bar takes you north to a rustic Spanish feel with low-slung ceilings, arched doorways and flowing Sangria. To watch the summer Olympics or a football match, Boxer Bar booms with sports bar energy with two plasma screens and a 5-foot screen for big events. Boxer Bar has offer 50 cocktails/shooters.
Havana Bar: If you like a little Latin flavor when in Nairobi, a visit to Havana Bar is a must. Order a Cuban cigar and mojito, which they are famous for serving up the best in town, and mingle with a crowd of both locals and expats. Thursday nights at the Havana Bar, get ready for a packed house with DJ Zelalem spinning everything from techno to Louis Armstrong.
Nest: Located on the fourth floor of Tribe Hotel, Nest offers a upscale yet relaxed experience to enjoy shisha (over 20 flavors to choose from) and a Dawa (Kenyan cocktail of vodka, honey and lemon) underneath the stars. Martinis are also a must-try at Nest. The lemongrass martini, hot chili passion martini and lychee martini are all stellar sips. Unlike most bars in Nairobi, get there early as it closes at 11 pm.
Word to the wise, Nairobi is tricky to get around as there are no street numbers/addresses. Best to hire a driver (my choice would be Jay Cab) for the night. And women, go out with a group of people (preferably with men in the mix), and never alone.
For more nightlife Nairobi coverage, check out Nairobi: Fishbowls, Shishas and Dancing.