I spent my last Saturday in February hanging out with amazing people on the outskirts of Lagos. We all signed up for a tour by Unravelling Nigeria to learn how palmwine is tapped, how ogogoro (local gin) is made and how to have a good old relaxing Saturday.
Our experience began with a ride to a local ogogoro factory in Epe. There, we met Jonathan, the factory owner, who took us on a journey, showing us how the beverage is gotten from the palm tree and distilled to make local gin.
The tour was fantastic. First, we rode in tiny canoes through the swamps and watched as Jonathan climbed a palm tree so skillfully and swiftly. He made some incisions to the bark and left a can there to collect the sap from it.
He then took us through the process of making ogogoro in his distillery. First, the sap is turned into large blue drums and left to ferment for a few days. It is then transferred into a large iron container and boiled. Then the steam is condensed and collected for consumption.
Sometimes, it is sold raw and sometimes, ethanol is added to the mix – which has proved lethal in some cases, leading to a ban of its production and consumption by the Federal Government in 2015. But obviously, that’s not stopping these guys. And me! Look how happy I am!
Okay, disclaimer: I didn’t try the local gin but still, look how happy you can be just by being in an Ogogoro factory! Anyway, once we were done with the tour, we headed off to a village close by to have a picnic. This was so much fun. We had lots of food, drinks and games and I finally got the chance to taste Kitchen Butterfly’s cooking. It was absolutely delicious! I mean, there’s a reason she’s a top Nigerian chef who has been featured on CNN’s African voices and Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown series.
We also got customized calabashes (mine had a nipple) and body paintings.
All in all, it was a really good outing and a pretty relaxing and exciting way to spend a weekend in Lagos!