Thu | Sep 28, 2023

‘Inna Di Mix’ champion Randeen Thomas working on recipe book

Published:Thursday | October 20, 2022 | 12:08 AMKrysta Anderson/Staff Reporter
For the final challenge, Randeen Thomas presented his tasty outta many mocktail.
For the final challenge, Randeen Thomas presented his tasty outta many mocktail.

Randeen Thomas has many fond memories of his time on Inna Di Mix, the reality competition that saw local mixologists go head to head.

“My favourite episode is the love story episode. We learnt about food pairing and wines. That wasn’t one of my strongest areas in bartending. That helped me out a lot, to pass that round and to become a better mixologist. The story I told about my love life and drink I made, intimacy. How my girlfriend and I are compatible like the ingredients. They marry well,” he told Food.

Thomas is no stranger to mixology. Based at Appleton Estate in St Elizabeth, he has spent a decade perfecting his craft of stirring, blending, shaking and making cocktails for the likes of many. To date, he has been known to pleasantly surprise palates with specialised mixes like the jerk pork daiquiri and stew peas martini.

“My style of bartending is a mix of culinary, blended with different personalities. Bringing storytelling into the mix is very important because I like to give a valid reason or history of why I am adding ingredients to a glass. Instead of just giving a drink, I like to give an experience,” he added.

Borrowing ingredients and techniques from the kitchen, ‘The Big Belly Bartender’ might share stories of a pastor, entertainer, doctor or a priest. This unique skill set and an aptitude for producing bizarre mixes are tools that Thomas would often employ on his YouTube channel and Instagram page. “I’ve always wanted to become a master mixologist for Jamaica,” he said, confessing that it was his heart’s desire to be a part of something great. “I was so happy when SammieRae reached out to me and explained her concept.”

Inna Di Mix, with SammieRae, made its debut in August 2022. A talent-based, reality-TV style competition series, it showcased a dynamic group of seven Jamaican mixologists blending their way through battles of skill and personality.

Season one of the reality bartending show made its debut in August of this year, airing weekly on Television Jamaica. Each week, viewers were invited to meet the mixers behind some of the most fantastic cocktails ever made. The seven contestants, both male and female, put their heart, talents and personality on display, and were judged according to presentation and taste.

After six weeks, the finals were split into two categories: the out of many one challenge, which included making a mocktail and the champion drink. For the first challenge, Thomas paid homage to his country as a farmer, sourcing bamboo crafted cups engraved with Jamaica 60th and a customised shirt for his presentation.

For his second drink, the expert mixer presented the jackpot cocktail. “The other challenge was way easier because I was telling a story about me, and this was the norm. I made a spicy jackfruit daiquiri. The lime juice presented the Vitamin Cs I like to add to my life; care, confidence and commitment. The spice was courtesy of my grandmother, who is from Pepper district in St Elizabeth. I am maroon descent and they created jerk seasoning. Jackfruit is my favourite fruit. I added brown sugar syrup because I am sweet, dark and thick and rum is essential, because I want to become a master blender one day,” he revealed.

Cool under pressure

Making the cocktail or mocktail each week was nerve-racking, he admitted, but Thomas remained cool under pressure, giving a great presentation while being open to criticism that he can learn and grow from.

To be making history as the first winner of Inna Di Mix has been the most incredible accomplishment for Thomas. “I think it painted the right picture, hence why I am the winner. I think it changed some minds about mixing because a lot of people believed that mixing is just adding ingredients to a glass. I feel like Neil Armstrong or Thomas Edison. I always want to be the first in anything great. Engrave my name in history.”

Currently working on his recipe book, Thomas will continue to teach on social media, pushing Brand Jamaica beyond the bar to the world.