Bacardi bardender of the month: Nikki Benza


Mojo Mountain

of Bamboo Sushi Restaurant and Bar, and O Bar nightclub

If you want to see a bartender in action, you need to seek out Nikki Benza. The service industry in Cayman has a lot of transient members, but she is one of the few long term well-known personalities serving up the drinks who many consider a welcome and familiar face. Not content to just lend her talents to one location, she splits her time between the legendary Bamboo Sushi Restaurant and Bar and O Bar nightclub.

Nikki was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, and grew up in that western Canadian jewel of a city. Always a very sporty individual she favoured Physical Education in school, which morphed into gym memberships later on and a job that required a great deal of energy. Although her first position in the working world was in retail, Nikki quickly realised that she was a night owl; a social moth, if you will, and therefore a career after dark would suit her perfectly. This began her foray into the hospitality business and bartending.

She jumped in with both feet, working at four different nightclubs in the Vancouver area all owned by the same family. It was not unusual for her to get home at 6am, which was just the way she liked it.

Nikki could have stayed in her hometown, and no doubt her customers would have been happy for her to remain, but when she heard from a friend of hers who was living in the Cayman Islands she figured that perhaps a change of scenery might be nice. Moving to a place where the sun shone year-round would certainly be different – and then there was the beach. She’d rough it if she had to.

In the years that Nikki has subsequently spent in Grand Cayman, she has made a name for herself on the local scene. Watch her behind the bar and you will witness a mini Cirque du Soleil, as through the evening she is constantly (and effortlessly) stepping up on the floor coolers to reach the bottles in the cupboards above.

She now spends four nights a week at Bamboo, and two nights at O Bar because for her going to sleep before midnight just doesn’t compute. Now even more residents can get to know this lively bartender who creates a killer martini or uncorks a bottle of wine in the blink of an eye.

When Nikki isn’t revelling in the pressure of a busy bar, she spends her down time at the gym, hanging out at the beach (she has decided that she definitely likes a little sunshine), playing golf, or cooking meals full of home grown fresh herbs. If she ever wants a change from the bartending scene she could always give Gordon Ramsay a run for his money.

Nikki has no intention of changing jobs in the near future – she loves the social aspect of being on the business end of the bar and the fact that it keeps her constantly in motion.

Whether you’re an evening or wee hours kind of person, you can track down Nikki at some point in the week. Stop by and let her know that you heard she’s What’s Hot this month! WH





Stephen Clarke