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How to create edutainment experiences around beverage in Africa.

Here is a clue.... it is not easy!

On February 16th of this year, 250 members of the hospitality sector and general public walked through the glorious entrance to Lilayi Lodge to attend our inaugural Beverage Experience event. A developing vision, BevX was the brainchild of Lilayi Lodge - with Under the Influence’s edutainment spin added of course! We wanted to create an experience that allowed Guests to immerse themselves in beautiful beverage brands, and understand just what makes them special.

What started as a humble tasting in 2017 has now evolved into an event in which we use our exceptional partnership with Lilayi to showcase our portfolio to trade and the public alike. This year’s event was not short on fun, or drama. I made no less than three wardrobe changes throughout the day - not because I like to look fabulous, but because I seem to have a penchant for dousing myself in spilled products throughout the day! Attendees were treated to some frenzy-inducing backing tracks from some of Lusaka’s very favourite musicians, Ben Ratnam and Aimée Swart; and the night finished with no-longer-well-behaved guests deciding a 10pm swim in Lilayi’s blue-lit pool would be the way to end the evening.

But I digress! Back to the show. What was the show and why did we do it? Under the Influence, supported by an incredible array of producers, created one of the country’s largest and most expansive beverage trade shows to date. We showcased over sixty wines, eight gins, premium mixers, craft beer on tap and the easiest, most slippery-slope inducing Italian bitter orange spirit aperitivo. With the event set in the middle of the rain season, all things aligned as glorious sun provided the backdrop for one of the most enjoyable, tiring, awesome experiences of my UI career to date. Special thanks have to be given to Lilayi Lodge, who provided an extraordinary partnership - providing assistance in marketing, design, catering, set up, staff and more. As one of the continents most enthusiastic developers of Zambian beverage culture, we really couldn’t have done it without them. We hope that our Guests enjoyed the opportunity to access and taste some of South Africa's top tipples, presented in many cases by their committed artisans.

Other thanks that absolutely must be given, is of course to our partners and vendors:

  • Simone Musgrave | Musgrave Gin | Not only provided beverages for BevX19, but attended the event in person to present her products to the market.

  • Shane Douglas-Evans | Ginny Fowl Gin | Also attended the event in person to present her exceptional gins to our attendees.

  • Paul De Ruyter | Gravel Junction | Perhaps the busiest man of the first hour, successfully poured 30 bottles of Andiamo Italian Bitter Orange Aperitivo to 245 guests whilst still smiling and taking part in the rest of the event to showcase GJ’s expansive range of beverage products.

  • Zan Zurawski & Drew McNaught | Drifter Brewing Co | Provided Zambia’s very first opportunity to be wowed by high quality craft beers delivered in keg from Cape Town and poured on draught to the revellers, including an exceptional buchu G&T!

The following brand partners were kind enough to support UI Zambia’s BevX19 and the other vendors with an extraordinary array of products, and the event truly would not have been possible without support from:

  • Neil Ellis

  • Rickety Bridge

  • Cederberg

  • Barker & Quin

  • Painted Wolf

  • Kaapzicht

  • MAN Family Wines

  • Thelema

  • Foothills

It's important to remember that even though these events are serious, and we work hard to provide education and information to the public - they should be fun too. We love our jobs here at UI, so bringing that joy to the public was amazing, and we hope you had fun too! We look forward to seeing you at next year’s event, and hopefully to turning this into a road show! Maybe #UIBevX20 will be in Nairobi, Lagos or Accra as well?

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