Mwendas is that place without a menu. They rely on their knowledge of the drinks and their charm to sell.
It’s an old-school place and most of Nairobi’s middle class will remember an evening or two here after a long day of hustle. Mwendas used to pack students drawn from colleges in the upper sides of towns, especially University of Nairobi, patently drawn by the cocktails with saucy names such as Slippery Nipple or Screwdriver.
A few years back, the owner tried to change a name, as the crowd dwindled, as younger people opted for trendier clubs. But it didn’t work, and he changed the name back to Mwendas quickly. Nobody noticed.
Last Thursday, it was a full house. Young men with pretty ladies hanging by their arms, young ladies on their own looking fresh out of college and new at their workplaces burning to spend a dime or two on drinks, it was end month after all. Then there’s the occasional older chap like me out of the place sipping a drink that looks like the gay flag. It is the Pride Month, no less.
On recommendation of the waitress I get the Naked Mogash.
It lacks glaring screens so you either stick to your phone like a social misfit or interact.
The first sip is the strongest. An overload of spirits hits your tongue and if you’re not accustomed to it you’ll probably gag and cough a few times like a tractor on cold start. But then it does this weird thing where sips are intermittently strong and weak. Other times you’ll get too much of the lemon flavor from the garnish and other times you’ll swear it’s nothing but a rainbow-colored vodka shot. But I guess that is it’s appeal. A multi-layered drink to peel back the stress of a long day and put a smile on your face. A smile almost as wide as the light-skinned lady’s that served you. She’s average height, with short hair and bubbly personality. I asked her what’s in my drink and she simply said “lots of whisky and vodka”
Mwendas has simple décor. They don’t try too hard. You feel welcome but if you also wanted to hate the place you’d find a reason. It’s like a mother in-law’s house. The furniture is short of new. Some of the chairs spot tears. They have high tables and stools that belong in medieval times but fit right in here. The place is like a time capsule, quite quaint, and the music complements that. Speakers belt out E. V. E and Missy Elliot and a whole other assortment of 90s good stuff. They have an upstairs which was full by the time I got here, which was 6.00 pm so it says a lot about the place. Also it lacks glaring screens so you either stick to your phone like a social misfit or interact. No football matches here.
Now if you’re ever in Nairobi Mwendas is a good place to go. I am barely one cocktail in and my head is buzzing. Anyone that knows me knows how I hold my liquor. I don’t just buzz. These guys have perfected the art of balancing the strength of a cocktail and the price they charge for it. A naked Mogash will set you back 600 bob but trust me one is enough. By the time you leave, there’ll be four ladies two on each side because the space is full and they have nowhere else to sit. The rest is up to the slickness of your tongue.
Located on Utalii Street, a touch of Korean blended with old vibes, Mwendas is a definite hit.