Sweet & Chili LLC
Ask John Gakuru where he’s from and he’d likely pause. Although born in Kenya and raised in England, the East African nation remains very close to his heart, but, Australia also has a special connection, having been his stomping ground for nearly a decade. Today, you’ll find him traversing North America, with a home base in Los Angeles. He’s a man who has known many continents and likewise, many roles in his career in the spirits industry.
Gakuru got his first taste of the liquor business behind the bar. He was responsible for managing Lab Bar, a renowned destination for drinks in London’s posh Soho district. This was in the earliest days of the classic cocktail renaissance, and by 2005, he’d been sought out by the Brazilian-based brand, Sagatiba Cachaça. He joined on as their Global Brand Ambassador that year, carving out a seven-year position that took this spirit label from small, South-American production to a recognizable name on six continents.
He then spent six years with Think Spirits in Australia, as their On-Premise Manager and Trade Marketing Manager. He was instrumental in the company becoming a Top 10 distributor in the nation where he over saw the trade communications, brand activity and events of some thirty-five premium spirit brands in the Think Spirits’ portfolio.
Gakuru joined Sweet&Chilli Australia in late 2016, before emigrating to the USA in April 2017, where he is currently the Director of Sales & Marketing. He’s bringing these incredible two decades of experience both behind the bar, on the world stage, in distribution and brand growth to bear in his current role. His role includes crafting and executing North American-based events, helping other brands gain the traction they need with consumers and the trade, as well as forging lasting client relationships and international relations.
When he’s not at work, you’ll usually find John Gakuru planning his next scuba diving holiday or sipping a Negroni, Paloma or glass of red wine in one of LA’s great bars. While the world has provided a playground for him to learn and grow in his own industry, these days he’s ultimately excited to be behind-the-scenes of some of America’s most illustrious parties, brands and brand experiences.