The World Class Nigeria 2022 competition has put a face to this year’s bartending competition. A competition specially crafted for bartenders/mixologists in the country. The beverage industry is another soaring sector in the hospitality industry with creative minds and well-to-do sommeliers who continuously put the industry on the right side.
The competition “inspired by World Class Bartenders” has yet again produced a bartender considered to be World Class. Victor ‘VIKTOUR’ Obanya “the master craft mixologist” who emerged as the winner of this year’s competition joins in this exclusive interview to talk about one sole thing, his commitment to the craft of mixology.
Who is Victor Obanya?
Victor Obanya is someone who loves doing what he does best and carrying others along for growth, I call myself the master craft mixologist.
If you were to describe Victor Obanya in three words how will you describe yourself?
I’m a very humble human
And a goal-getter
When will you say you developed an interest in drink and decided to be a mixologist and for how many years have you tolled the path?
10 years ago, I never saw myself working in the industry because I don’t understand what the industry was all about,
I didn’t just go into mixing drinks and called myself a mixologist, it all started with passion and love for the job in the industry, I’ve attended different bar schools such as MBA, shakers, Diego training, etc
Did anyone inspire your love and interest in drink?
Before I became a bartender, I watched a lot of bartenders always doing the job with bitterness, and sadness perhaps the industry isn’t supporting the career of bartenders in Nigeria, but Mr. Razak Makanjuola really got me inspired, his always happy doing the job, and the way he interacts with guests, got my attention, it made me understand that there is more than just mixing drinks, putting a smile in the face of my guest with my crafts, means a lot to me.
What will you say makes the mixologist / bartending profession noble?
Bartender/ mixologist is a professional career in other parts of the world, in Africa though it’s new but, we are still struggling to see it as a career due to the fact that bartenders are not pushed to the front by brands and they are not getting the support they need from other brands and their family members. Bartenders in Nigeria (Africa) are not been respected and recognized in any way in society.
People see you working behind the bar as irresponsible and hopeless human here in Nigeria, but in other parts of the world, bartenders are like gods, bartenders get all forms of support system, bartenders earn good salaries, etc.
We see, many claims to be chefs even without attending culinary school but in this day and age what will you say qualifies one to be called a mixologist or bartender?
Lol, well anywhere I go to I like to engage in conversation with people, just to know what they that called themselves mixologist has to say, you calling yourself a chef when you know you didn’t get any certificate to show you went through a culinary process, it’s the same as someone who woke up one morning and called himself a mixologist, No you have to go through some training for you to be certified and be called a mixologist.
You are not new to winning in 2021, you emerged as one of the winners of the Lagos Cocktail Week competition. What was the experience like for you?
Woah 2021 was like heaven made, there were 4 challenges at the competition I emerged the winner in my challenge, it was a difficult one though because the challenge was a tough one and another competitor was very good, so I became very nervous.
While the competition was going on I didn’t want to look into the crowd, just to avoid the level of my nerves increasing LOL. That was done and a winner was announced which was me the one and only VIKTOUR.
How does it feel to emerge the winner of World Class Bartender 2022?
Emerging the winner of World Class Nigeria 2022 wasn’t easy. Firstly, I had to beat through the regional finals there were 2 winners from Lagos, then again I got very nervous because the other Lagos winner is good at what he does, so I challenge myself to put in more work, more research to get ready for the national finals luckily for me, they said hard work really pays, I feel so excited to be holding the title of bartender of the year in 2years.
I’m truly grateful to God almighty for everything
The food industry is known to celebrate fusion and to a large extent people are getting more comfortable with chefs fusing food will you say it’s the same with drinks?
There is no food without a drink, and there is no drink without food, so whatever magic the chefs are constructing, the bartenders/ mixologist are also constructing, coming up with new ideas every day to elevate their crafts, and the bartenders do the same to drinks, pairing recipes to give you great taste, balance, and beauty.
How well will you say Nigerian ingredients are being used in making drinks in this day and age?
Our local ingredients have been neglected for a very long time, people don’t make use of our local ingredients anymore, and we now import different types of fruit, vegetable, spice, and herbs, I remember when I first gained interest in working as a bartender, I never made use of any fresh local ingredients, cocktails then to me was too artificial, the cocktail wasn’t defined in a very good way in Nigeria.
These days bartenders are really trying their best to be very creative with our local ingredients, making cocktails out of fresh local ingredients like agbalumo, palm wine, potatoes, etc. I really encourage upcoming bartenders to step up their game in the industry.
After winning the World Class Bartender 2022 what will you say is next for Victor Obanya?
Hmmmmm what’s next for me? I’m getting ready for the World Class global finals I will be representing Nigeria later this year in Sydney Australia for the finals, and that it’s a whole lot and I’m very super excited, after which will be dishing out what I’m been cooking for year fingers crossed.
Images: Courtesy of Victor ‘Viktour’ Obanya & World Class Nigeria.