Skip to content

5 questions with expert mixologist selected as African winner of global bartender challenge

Thabiso Molonyama flew South Africa’s flag high and emerged as the winner from Africa in a global bartender challenge

Bookmark article to read later

By House & Garden South Africa | May 15, 2023 | Travel Leisure

Passionate cocktail mixologist, Thabiso Molonyama, has emerged as the African winner of the Johnnie Walker Global Bartender Challenge, winning a three-night Black Label experience in Scotland. The entrepreneur created a drink called the Nimbus Moon, which won over the judges’ hearts. The contest had 200 entrants from 47 countries, with three other victors emerging from Asia and Australasia, South and Central America, and Europe.

Thabiso Molonyama’s unique cocktail led him to emerge victorious in the contest. Image: Supplied.

The multitalented man, who studied jewellery design, noted that he was thrilled to fly the South African flag high. “It feels surreal. Scotland feels like a home country because I’ve been working with Johnnie Walker since I’ve been behind a bar. It might be like coming home. I’m most looking forward to meeting the first female master distiller, to being in Scotland, and immersing myself in that culture. I am a big whisky fan.”

Thabiso has over 13 years’ worth of experience in the beverage industry and is the founder of The Everyday Bar, a hospitality consultancy firm and mobile bar. Talking to House and Garden SA, the innovator shared the inspiration behind the Nimbus Moon, opened up about his motivations for entering the contest, and more.

1. Why did you decide to enter the competition?

I’ve always been scared to enter, because of not wanting to lose. So, I mostly find myself judging. But this time, I wanted to properly represent the whisky brand. It was an interesting experience.”

2. Tell me more about the Nimbus Moon. What inspired its creation?

I wanted it to be simple so that it would taste the same way wherever you make it in the world. It is inspired by the spirit of keep walking - Johnnie Walker’s campaign – to keep pushing even when times are hard. Just keep doing the right thing and keep doing you.

Nimbus Moon is all about harmonious balance; playing an intended tailored role to perfection, from glassware to garnish, where no flavour dominates the other as each element makes a calm palate introduction with each savoury sip.

The Nimbus Moon cocktail. Image: Supplied

3. To whom is the drink aimed?

This drink is dedicated to the individuals who always keep it real regardless of situations and circumstances [they face]. Those who stand up for what is right even though he/she might get in trouble or be ostracised. People who do what is right even though no one is watching. And lastly, the individuals pushing boundaries where none have even tried.

4. How is the drink prepared?


• 50ml Johnnie Walker Black

• 20ml Aperol

• 2tbs Orange Bitters

• 10ml Lemon Yuzu

• 20ml Cranberry Juice


• Shake and fine strain

• Glass: LSA martini

• Garnish: Candied ginger and soaked pepper

• Add ice cube

5. When was your passion for mixology born?

It all started when I was a student and saw bartenders playing around with bottles and flaring, but my passion is for hospitality as a whole, spear-headed by the mixology part. Bars are a big part of restaurants and hotels, a part of dining somewhere. I am curious to learn more and help big chains improve their standards. I have also done coffee and tea sommelier courses and those are also a big interest for me - the beverage industry as a whole.