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Why not set up a cocktail bar in the Sahara Desert?

AFRICA in 3.3 hours:

We arrive in Marrakech on the 28th February at 11:20. This time next week, we will have served nearly 1000 cocktails to 150 pretty cool and funky looking people in the middle of the Sahara Desert. Just another day spreading the love.

Richard of Arabia (Moroccan Arabia)

Marrakech is quite a culture shock (in a good way). From the moment you leave the idyllic and peaceful surroundings of a Riad, you're thrown into a bustling, non-stop competitive market place of locals trying to sell you EVERYTHING! Some of them even physically grab you and pull you into their shop to dazzle you with a 50 Dirham (£3.50) leather belt. "Are you British? Lovely jubbly!"...they still think Old Fools & Horses is churning out new episodes....I wish. There was no casual browsing in the souks for me though, as I had to battle a Moroccan supermarket for our ingredients. Trying to get a Moroccan shop assistant to understand what Orgeat Syrup is proved difficult. They had no Orgeat. I settled on Amaretto instead. If in doubt, more booze :)

2.5 hrs later I could finally relax with the team and some lovely Moroccan friends on a beautiful terrace watching the sunset. Mix & Muddle, out.

Marrakech Terrace at sunset

Moroccan Time:

Africa has this strange affect on the British. There's a constant flux between a fear of having to be rude to a local in order to maintain one's dignity and strict timescale, and a desire to throw off those closely held British niceties, chuck on a Djellaba and get mucked in with 'Moroccan Time'. I'm not going to lie, this was a frustrating paradox when you're trying to put together a cocktail bar in a desert. "It's fine my friend, you are in the desert now! This is Moroccan time!" That's all well and good, but I've got 200 expectant Brits arriving in 2 days, and they don't a sh#@ about Moroccan time. They want a cocktail and a Tagine pronto!

After our 12 hours of driving through the breathtaking Atlas Mountains and the plains of Berber country, we arrived at a luxury camp where we were to spend the night. I can't express enough how beautiful and baron our surroundings were, but I'll try:

You imagine in your head what the desert will be like...

Then when you get there, you stand, agog, looking up at a vast sea of stars, listening to nothing but silence and sand rustling sand accentuating the silence, and wondering, "Why does, and in fact why should anything matter right now?"

The best cure for ignorance is seeing true beauty in where you live, aka The Earth.

I could get used to Moroccan Time.

Moroccan Luxury Camp

Seduce Me in the Desert:

Creating the cocktails for a festival like this was relatively easy.

Punch Me in the Desert
Seduce Me in the Desert

Whenever we receive a brief or concept from a client to develop an event, you're always stuck with the same problem: how do we create an incredible experience from a crowd that has seen everything. Guests will always be arriving from a point of perceived expectancy. Their eyes say, "Impress me. I've seen it all before."

The pressure is always greater and the effort has to be doubled. However, when you're given scenario where guests are arriving with their inhibitions subdued, you can give focus to the details. The welcoming smile, the interaction, the connection. Mix & Muddle revels in this scenario.

The cocktails themselves, were simple, yet detailed. I wanted to draw inspiration from this great country we were in, so I started with spice:

Punch Me in the Desert:

40ml Ras El Hanout Bacardi Blanco

15ml Luxardo Apricot Liqueur

20ml Lemon Juice

10ml Sugar Syrup

2 dashes Fee Brothers Plum Bitter

Served short over cubed ice

Garnished with dried Lemon Verbena leaves

Ras El Hanout carries a beautifully mild, almost sweet spice that pairs well with rum. Cooked with chicken or lamp is also nice. The fresh lemon (we hand juiced 400 lemons) cuts through the spice and sweetness from the Apricot and sugar to give a sumptuous punch-like serve.

Seduce Me in the Desert:

40ml Eristoff Vodka

15ml Kahlua Coffee Liqueur

15ml Amaretto

25ml Fresh Espresso

Served in a Coupe glass

Garnished with grated Nutmeg

Espresso Martinis are religious enlightenment. The combination of booze and coffee create a double-tap of buzz and zing within the brain. The Amaretto provided a smooth nuttiness that brought class and sophistication to this popular serve. We shifted A LOT of these.

Hold Me in the Desert:

40ml Mint infused Gin

20ml Strawberry Syrup

25ml Lemon Juice

2 dashes Orange Blossom Water

Soda top-up

Served long over suved ice

Garnished with dried Lemon Verbena leaves

Moroccan's love their mint tea, and they love it even more with a shed load of sugar. We tried to balance this sweetness with a burst of citrus and a floral freshness from the Orange Blossom. Mint and Orange Blossom is a winner, trust me. You won't find a fresher serve in the Sahara.

As I'm aware this is our first blog post, I'm trying to bear in mind your busy schedules. Time is money right? Therefore, I'll bring this to a close. After an epic, exhausting, and cocktail filled 2 days, we were done. We headed back to Marrakech after no sleep from the night before and crashed out in yet another beautiful Riad.

It would be easy to say that Mix & Muddle had agreed to do Beyond Sahara because it was a good 'profile' job, or it provided good 'content' and 'exposure' in the form of videography and imagery that can be pushed across social channels and increase website conversion. However, the truth is that it was just too cool to turn down.


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