Drew's Hospitality Adventure in the Isle of Man with Kiki Lounge
After finishing my studies, I took a different path than most of my peers. I stayed on the Isle of Man for my degree, working and learning at the same time. This choice helped me to find great opportunities I never expected.
I was just scrolling through Instagram when I started reading about the 50 Best Bars Scholarship. It was a global competition focused on sustainability, inclusivity, and diversity - values which I try to champion day-to-day. For the first round, I had to talk about how I implement these values. I focused on Kiki Lounge (formerly Kiki’s Tiki Lounge) and how we aim to educate and inform guests about some of the shrouded darker history within Tiki sub-culture, to ensure awareness of the past in order to move onto a brighter future!
Out of 800+ entries, I made it to the last 25! This saw me have to create a cocktail with local produce at its heart. What gave me a great boost and was exciting for me was the incredible advantage of the Isle of Man’s UNESCO Biosphere status, providing me with an abundance of ingredients to choose from. I chose spiral wrack seaweed, a common find on Isle of Man shores. My drink was a homage to Filipino Bartender, Joseph Galsini, who influenced a great change within Tiki bartending. Eventually, being crowned the winner, in Barcelona, was a great milestone for me and helped put our Island on the map for hospitality.
I graduated in May 2022 and jumped right into being a director at Extra Fancy Limited. Winning the scholarship opened doors for me in places like London and New York. I even got to run workshops in Berlin, showing off what the Isle of Man has to offer. Kiki Lounge is now aiming for a spot in the UK's Top 50 Bars and helping grow the Isle of Man's hospitality scene.
The Isle of Man is amazing for creativity. It has an abundance of natural resources and a unique culture where locals are always willing to support where they can. Studying here allowed me to stay at home, earn money, and build my career without big-city distractions. The community is tight-knit, and the support from everyone, including the government, is great. Plus, the island is perfect for when you need to slow the pace and catch your breath.
If you're thinking about coming to the Isle of Man, it's all about what you make of it. It's a great place for growing your career and enjoying work-life balance. For anyone wanting to get into hospitality here, it's a journey that allows you to grow and build strong working connections. The hard work pays off not just in your career but in the fun and friendships you make.
So, the Isle of Man isn't just a place; it's a blank canvas for your success story. With its unique environment, entrepreneurial spirit, and balanced lifestyle, it's becoming a hotspot for hospitality careers. As Kiki Lounge keeps growing, so does the Isle of Man's spot as a home for success, growth, and exceptional hospitality in the global cocktail scene.