Jillian - Dead Rabbit; Erik - Savoy. IMAGE/COURTESY

Jack Daniel’s has successfully launched and executed its inaugural, virtually driven Bartender’s Mentorship Program designed to provide Kenyan bartenders the opportunity to master their craft through a 360° educative and entrepreneurship initiative. Covering all aspects of the bartending profession, the program is known as Tennessee Campus and included 60 bartenders.   

Conducted via the digital space over three weeks, Tennessee Campus comes at a time when the hospitality industry has been one of the most highly impacted industries globally due to COVID-19. The skills and insights shared will not only serve as a useful tool for local bartenders but will also provide a source of inspiration and motivation as they navigate these new challenges.  

Launched for the first time on the African continent, Tennessee Campus speakers included: Nidal Ramini – Jack Daniel’s Head of Advocacy (based in the UK), David Mwangi Mutunga – Jack Daniel’s Brand Ambassador, Brian Owango – Managing Director Aqueous and Paul Gachohi, Director Nairobi Bar School. Through the duration of Tennessee Campus, bartenders were mentored on topics delving into: The Art of Entrepreneurialism, The Art of Creativity and Delivering Quality and Consistency.  

The ethos of mentorship and innovation is at the heart of the Jack Daniel’s brand with the underlying belief that ‘every day we make it; we’ll make it the best we can’. And this was certainly the overriding theme of program:


Nidal Ramini encouraged bartenders to harness their ‘entrepreneurial spirit’ and to own their own brand whether individually or as part of a team in the workplace.  

  • Ramini emphasized “entrepreneurial spirits thrive on meeting the next challenge. I encourage you to challenge yourself, your teams to do things better and to be a little more unique”.  
  • Echoing these sentiments, pioneer of the Kenyan cocktail culture Brian Owango highlighted that the current environment presented an opportunity for each bartender to embrace this entrepreneurial spirit and actively work towards improving their skills and marketability for the next chapter. 
  • Building on this, David Mwangi Mutuga encouraged participants to take inspiration from the Jack Daniel’s way of doing things to deliver quality, excellence and consistency. 
  • Which “may be the harder way sometimes, but it is the right way and it is the way we deliver excellence to our consumers. Something each bartender should strive for in their everyday interactions.”

The program which was originally set to have kicked off in March 2020 in person, pivoted to an online training format. Participation in Tennessee Campus is free and by invitation. In recognition of challenging times, all participants were given a starter-pack that included data allowance, shopping voucher and other essentials to enable them to partake without added burden.   

David Mwangi Mutunga, Jack Daniel’s East Africa Brand Ambassador notes “At Jack Daniel’s we believe firmly in the spirit of entrepreneurship and career development. In these challenging times we felt strongly that this was our moment to help our industry. Not only are we able to give passionate Kenyan bartenders skills to master their craft but also a medium to showcase their talents.”  

David Mwangi – Jack Daniel’s East Africa.

As part of the next phase,  Mutunga further adds “each bartender will be encouraged to put their skills to the test on the digital platform. For this, we’ll be rewarding them with monetary compensation as a means to help them generate much needed income.”  For many of the participants this was an opportune platform to connect with many of their peers and industry insiders since the outbreak restrictions began. It offered an excellent opportunity to share experiences, learnings and ask questions not just relating to the brand but to career progression and where to seek inspiration in challenging times. 

Bartender Maniche Ojuk commented “I’ve always had second thoughts when it comes to entrepreneurship. But this program will truly be a game changer in how I see things”.  

On successful competition all participants will receive a certification and accreditation.