John Asogonnde: The ‘Eden’ Interview

BEFORE YOU HEARD EDEN BAR had flung its doors open, its founder John Asogonnde was priming to launch Ghana’s first non-alcoholic bar. And launch, the young entrepreneur did.

Eden Bar was and is a major success for all the right reasons. Bespoke drinks, adrenaline-soaked vibes and a chill ambiance that promises pleasure beyond measure? Please, reserve our seat at the bar. Thank you very much.

An after-work hangout that assures you of no hangover the day after? Make that seat a bed instead, please.

Asogonnde has spent almost a decade in Accra’s nightlife scene. He says, there’s a segment of people who want to have a chill hangout in this city without having to imbibe daily. We find that we agree.

Eden Bar is the bar-sans booze place to check out if you’re in Accra and craving refined flavor over being dazed for days.

We had a conversation with Asogonnde regarding his journey towards turning the Eden Bar dream into a reality. He had a lot to say about where he’s been, where Eden Bar is at and how far he’s taking Ghana’s first non-alcoholic bar.

First question: Like all great affairs, it has to end sometime. In this case, it’s beginning. We’ve heard of your inspirational history. Three years ago, you quit drinking alcohol but not the party animal. What first drew you to the name Eden Bar as the name of your non-alcoholic bar?

Asogonnde: The party animal was let loose in my high school days when I used to travel all around the Ghanaian high schools for fanfares. When I got to university, I became a member of the hottest squad in Accra at the time, Get Familiar GH. We were the organizers of the award-winning Friday Friends events at the then Silver Lounge in Accra Mall.

This is circa 2013-2014, right?

Asogonnde: It is. I later went on to become Business Manager / Creative Director for Black Avenue Group consisting of a record label, nightclub and events company. When I first envisioned Ghana’s first non-alcoholic bar, I thought of paradise- enjoyment like how it was at the beginning. The name Eden was inspired by the biblical earthly paradise (Garden of Eden). And that’s why it’s called Eden- pure happiness as it was at the start

Eden Bar has been more than two in years in the making and you got it open just in time for Sober October. Nice! Were you nervous about opening Ghana’s first non-alcoholic bar?

Asogonnde: I wasn’t. I don’t think I ever have when it comes to purpose. All through the years, I’ve been very confident about the idea of a non-alcoholic bar in the heart of Accra. I took a lot of time to really get to understand the business. See what approach works and which ones don’t. This made me aware of the challenges and the best way to overcome them.

A culture of sobriety was the primary focus for you when you set out to build Eden Bar. Has that changed? Do you believe there are more reasons Ghana needs a non-alcoholic bar?

Asogonnde: Yes, Accra especially is growing. It’s fast-becoming a vibrant nightlife tourist site in West Africa. With many people coming here from around the world, I feel it’s only right to have a niche alternative like Eden to compensate for the huge dominance of alcoholic bars in the city. Plus, Eden is the only place in Accra you’ll see a pregnant woman at the bar.

You’re a serial entrepreneur. Eden Bar aside, you’ve got a branding and marketing firm, J2 Global Solutions, and a 100% organic honey farm. Do you have golden rules that apply to whatever you’re working on?

Asogonnde: Involve God. Now and consistently. Just do it! You’ll see why.

Let’s talk about your cocktails. You’ve got a drink inspired by the late President H. E. Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings! Another cocktail dubbed the Big O inspired by, wait for it, Dr. Mensa Otabil?! What’s that about, tell us?

Asogonnde: These great men have inspired me and mentored me to be the man I am becoming. Every drink is a tribute to who they are and what they’ve imparted in me. I thought it wise to have cocktails in their name. Plus, I think it’s a great flex to come up to Eden and say “Can I get the Dr. Otabil?”

Your cocktail names being original aside, the recipes, did you invent them yourself too?

Asogonnde: I did. Yes! I did a whole lot of research on the craft of mixology. I also combined my experience from visiting several bars to curate a non-alcoholic menu that has its own spirit (for lack of a better description, lol).  Plus, I work with some of the continent’s brilliant bartenders and mixologists who understand the craft.

It’s early days yet, we know, but are there plans to bottle up your signature cocktails? Will we be seeing them on the store shelves any time soon?

Asogonnde: Definitely. We actually have one already bottled up. It’s called “OH JUDAS”. And this can be ordered directly from our website for now. Don’t worry this drink won’t betray you but it’ll definitely kiss you on the cheek.

Eden Bar is clearly building a community, and it’s beautiful to witness. Where do you see Eden Bar in the next five or ten years?

Asogonnde: Fully established in not only Accra but in Ghana’s cultural scene. And a few franchises in cities across Africa and the world at large.

In five to ten years, I trust Eden Bar would have created so much impact socially, economically and culturally. We foresee a huge shift in the way people consume alcohol. And we are proud to be pioneers of that change in this part of the world.

FOUNDER OF EDEN BAR JOHN ASOGONNDE WITH ZERO-PROOF ENTHUSIASTS

Lastly, every father has a favourite. Yes, you know you do. It’s TGIF. Happy Hour. Which one of your cocktails do you fancy is Eden Bar’s best seller?

Asogonnde: Oh, no. A father loves all his offspring. (Coughs) Labadi Blue and Pineapple Delilah.

Any final thoughts? Words?

Asogonnde: If you’re looking for a night to remember, then cheers to you. Eden Bar wants one for you too.

John Asogonnde, thanks so much. It’s been fun.

Asogonnde: Thank you too. Eden Bar is establishing a spot inside Tesano this November. And will be open from Thursdays through to Sundays. From 4pm till late.

Sweet. I guess, that bed will have to be a group tent.

You can book and find out more on Ghana’s first non-alcoholic bar here.

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