Growing Ghana's Cocktail Culture
Bartending isn't considered a professional occupation in Ghana just yet, but Taacoam founder Ebenezer Tetteh is determined to change that.
"When I first came to Kumasi, I ordered a Cosmopolitan, and they served it in a Hurricane glass."
Ebenezer Tetteh is recalling the bar scene (or lack thereof) in Kumasi, Ghana when he first moved there a few years ago. Today, things are changing, thanks in no small part to Tetteh taking it upon himself to become a cocktail ambassador for the West African country.
Enter Taacoam, a hospitality company Tetteh founded that focuses on showcasing African-styled cocktails with an emphasis on regional herbs and fruits. "The reason I created Taacoam is because Africans are not one," Tetteh explains. "We don't team up. but this is something that's going on all over the continent. I wanted to create something that is distinct, something you can't get in the UK or US."
Taacoam's very first event was a welcome party for students at the local university. Today, his team tackles a variety of jobs, including custom cocktail catering at weddings, corporate events, and private parties, as well as ongoing training for aspiring bartenders.
Tetteh began bartending in 2010 as a part-time job after he'd finished school. But there were hurdles along the way. "In Ghana, bartending is not that respected," he says. "I found myself frustrated, so I looked up bartenders from different countries who were raising the bar from behind the bar. I decided to learn everything I could — from training programs to buying books online — I just wanted to understand everything about bartending."
Today, Tetteh wears two hats, as the head bartender at The View Bar in Kumasi, and as the founder of Taacoam. "I want [Taacoam] to be known as a hospitality company that trains bartenders in Ghana," he says. "I had to create something like this because Africa is finally being recognized in the cocktail world. When I first came to Kumasi, there was no nightlife or bars or hotels. Now, we are getting good cocktails."
Tetteh says a majority of Ghanians prefer beer when they choose to imbibe, but he hopes to entice them by incorporating local roots and spices into his custom cocktails. "Ghanians are very health-conscious," he notes. Indeed, most of his recipes focus on ingredients that have homeopathic qualities: lemongrass for digestion, ginger for heartburn relief, mahogany bark, and the lesser-known etrapleura tetraptera, a West African plant often used by Ghanians as a spice and dietary supplement.