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It has been a (good) crazy couple of weeks for me in terms of projects and collaborations. As I mentioned in my previous post, I collaborated with Igee Okafor & Erik Parpar (The Dapper Method) to bring to life three cocktails which could be re-created in any household for New Years Eve (and any other time for that matter). I mostly talked about the cocktails but I felt it was important to also highlight the collaboration itself because it was one of my favorites so far.
Shooting with these guys was an absolute pleasure. It was my first time collaborating with individuals who are primarily lifestyle/fashion-focused so I learned a lot about their scene and what life looks like for them as influencers / figures within the space. Not only did we have some fantastic conversation about the landscapes within which we work, share thoughts, opinions, and ideas, but also we drank some tasty cocktails while we were doing it. The key takeaway from our conversations was that yes, this life can be fun, exciting, a bit glamorous, and filled with personal-passions which makes "work" easier...but the time and effort it takes to maintain / update content (while also paying those NYC bills) is not as light as it looks. These are incredibly hard-working individuals who push themselves to be their best while also staying authentic to who they are which is so important. It is easy to get caught up and lose yourself in the process, but these gentlemen are as real and authentic as they come which made this collaboration such a pleasurable experience overall.
FAVORITE MOMENTS OF THE COLLABORATION
Honestly, there were so many. For me, it was great being behind the bar at Porchlight getting to mix up some drinks. The guys behind the bar were extremely welcoming and accommodating which made everything smooth and exciting. They easily could have been like "who the hell is this random dude behind the bar making drinks...?" but they were genuinely hospitable which only further strengthens my affinity for Porchlight as a business, bar, restaurant - they are all around outstanding.
Outside of mixing drinks, I would say the funniest moment was when Igee decided that he needed to have / wear the bartender's apron and begin mixing drinks himself. Very ambitious from the fashionisto, but definitely not surprising. The General Manager, Mike Shain, was kind enough to "suit" Igee up with the stylish apron and the staff gave him a quick "How to Make a Margarita" tutorial. Myself and Erik watched (and photographed / recorded) as Igee did his best impression at tending bar. For a first timer, he looked to be a natural...other than shaking the tin with just the strainer covering the top. (Good thing there was only ice left - although a Margarita shower doesn't sound all bad). At this point we had enjoyed a couple early afternoon cocktails and were thoroughly enjoying ourselves while bonding with the Porchlight staff. Life was blissful. Afterwards, we finished up the shoot, grabbed some of their amazing Chicken & Waffles, reflected on our experiences, and parted ways after an indulgent afternoon. It really doesn't get much better than that.
GETTING TO KNOW IGEE OKAFOR: Q&A
Q: Currently, what is your favorite cocktail (generally speaking). And, in addition, what was your favorite cocktail from the three NYE cocktails I conjured up for the shoot?
A: My favorite cocktail is actually a signature from Beauty & Essex. It's called the Emerald Gimlet. It's a mixture of premium vodka, basil, lemon nectar, and fresh lime. I tend to be on the more sour/sweet side of things when it comes to my cocktails and they do it perfectly everytime. I also really enjoyed your take on the French 75. I believe my first time trying one was with you. It was fabulous! The champagne flute intrigued me as I tend to gravitate towards classic presentation and its taste hit the nail on the head. I mean, talk about a mixture of everything I enjoy when I have a drink - Sweet with a sour undertone, and champagne! Splendid.
Q: What was your favorite moment of the collaboration? And why?
A: My favorite moment of the entire photoshoot with Bon Vivantito and Erik Parapar had to be the opportunity I was kindly given by the gentleman at Porchlight to make my own cocktail. It was my first time ever using any equipment and actually making an alcoholic drink so I was honored. Haha!
Q: What do you love about cocktail culture?
A: What do I love about cocktail culture? Perhaps the enthusiasm it gives people in terms of its design, taste palate and function. There is a refined creativity and thoughtfulness that goes into creating a quality cocktail and that aspect makes it interesting for me.
Q: Now for a fun one! (haha) If you were to open your own bar, what would it be named and why?
A: If I were to open a bar, I would call it Dikeoma's. It's my father's first name and he was the first man in my life whom I associate with fine taste and appreciation for drinks. It would be an homage to him. I want everything I put my stamp on to celebrate the love I have for my family and African culture.