I Quit Banking To Become A Bartender —Man Like Dare Aderinokun

June 6, 2021

What does it mean to be a man? Surely, it’s not one thing. It’s a series of little moments that add up. Man Like is a weekly Zikoko series documenting these moments to see how it adds up. It’s a series for men by men, talking about men’s issues. We try to understand what it means to “be a man” from the perspective of the subject of the week.


This week’s Man Like is Dare Aderinokun, a 34-year-old Nigerian man who went from being a banker to a bartender. He talks about making this career switch, his impostor syndrome and internal conflict around being the provider and how this change is improving his relationship with his kids.

What was growing up like?

Growing up, I didn’t want to be in the corporate world. My father thought it would be a good idea for me to learn to code while I was in university in Alabama, USA. There was a telecommunication boom in Nigeria at the time, so I added a computer major to my course. Unfortunately, I was bad at coding. I decided to go with marketing instead, which made me spend five years in university instead of three.

When I arrived back in Nigeria, I was offered an entry-level spot in one of Nigeria’s top banks, and when I was asked which department I wanted to work in, I said “marketing”, without hesitation. I quickly found out that marketing in America was very different from marketing in Nigeria, which involved more sales than marketing rather than brand strategy, customer classification and fancy stuff like that. In Nigeria, marketing just meant meeting your targets every month, without much thought to fancy ideals. Nine years quickly went by, and when I looked back at them, I couldn’t say I felt any satisfaction working in the bank. It felt like I was trying to survive, month after month, target after target. My life was in fast-forward, and I wasn’t being my true self..

So you weren’t really interested in the corporate world.

Yeah. Even when I moved back to Nigeria, my social circle was in the arts scene — film directors, music producers. I didn’t really think of wealth as something I had to accumulate, but working in banking kinda puts you in that headspace 24/7. You start and end the day talking about other people’s money and how you can grow it. I was uninterested, but I’d wear that personality in the office. I was driven by a sense of duty to provide for my family just like my dad, who did whatever he had to do to keep us comfortable. It made me money but I didn’t feel fulfilled. 

So you went from banking to bartending. How did that happen?

I had my first drink when I was 13, and drinking and alcohol stuck with me. In my adult life, I found out that I liked drinking. People tend to associate drinking with social activities like going to a bar or a club, but I’m an introverted person that likes to create my own comforts at home. I didn’t exactly enjoy doing those things. I discovered that I loved creating cocktails and coming up with new recipes for drinks. So I spent my spare time online finding new recipes to try out. Before I knew it, I had amassed a collection of gin and whiskey in my house.

I started inviting people from my office and my wife’s large family over to my house on weekends to try out my cocktails. It was so much fun watching people drink and go, “Wow, this is amazing.” At first, I thought they were just being nice because I was giving them free drinks, but more people began to share their opinions. My sister, who’s a baker, joined me in mixing cocktails and it appeared she had a knack for it as well. She’s good at extracting and substituting flavours in cocktails, which is important because you can’t always find all the cocktail ingredients here in Nigeria.

When did you start considering quitting your job?

I was 32 and people were telling me that I could make a business out of making cocktails, but there was nobody I could reference as being a reputable bartender in Nigeria. I started toying with the idea of quitting my bank job to start making cocktails. It seemed crazy at first. I reasoned that if I stayed in the banking industry, I’d make a senior management position within ten years. On the other hand, there wasn’t a career path for making cocktails.

In 2019, my sister-in-law who ran a catering outfit came to visit, and I offered her a cocktail as I did to everyone. She fell in love with it and set up a kind of cocktail interview with her business partner. They asked me for different drinks, which I made without thinking much about it. They spoke between themselves and asked if I would like to serve at an event they were catering at.

I was scared as hell. Here I was, a suit-wearing banker with no real bartending experience who didn’t like social activities and basically learned how to mix drinks on YouTube. The imposter syndrome was very strong then. To be honest, it still is.

At the party, I found out that I enjoyed mixing drinks for people, and I had a lot of fun doing it.  From there, a senior executive from an oil and gas company reached out to my sister and me to make cocktails at their year-end party. I thought I had hit the big time because oil and gas companies were reputed to pay well. My sister and I decided to register a company. We named it Quacktails as an inside joke, because “quack” means a fake, and neither of us was formally trained. That’s how Quacktails came to be.

Unfortunately, it turned out the company had spent the entire party budget on bringing musicians, so they ended up offering peanuts to us. It wasn’t even a sizable fraction of my salary. We turned it down. Meanwhile, my wife was blazing trails at her bank job, getting promotions and commendations. I was doubtful about leaving my job for this, afraid that I would be unable to provide for my family. I went back to focusing on my job. However, more people started to call us to make drinks for their events and business began to grow steadily.

Then COVID happened.

Ah, COVID.

On the contrary, the lockdown was great for business. People were holed up in their houses with nothing to do and bored out of their minds. We started selling cocktails in small pouches we bought online so people anywhere in Lagos could order drinks from us. Steadily, we made more and more orders every week. We started getting reviews on social media, and before we knew it, our clientele grew. My house became an on-the-go bar. My wife, who has never had a drop of alcohol, also joined in making the cocktails. Legend is, she makes one of the best margaritas in Lagos.

For the first time in a while, I felt alive. I wasn’t going through a brain-numbing ritual of suiting up to go to work to do the same old job, presenting on PowerPoint, poring over some boring documents every day. I had time with all my spirits and flavours and was discovering new tastes and drinks. The more time I spent at home, the less inclined I was to go back to working at the bank. I got to spend time with my family and didn’t have to go out. It was bliss.

What happened after the lockdown?

We went back to our day jobs. Only, this time, my phone was blowing up with orders. Even my co-workers who didn’t know it was my business ordered regularly. I was thinking, “What the hell is going on?” I thought it was going to die down but it only got bigger. I spent my lunch break checking through messages and sorting orders. I became a bartender and a banker at the same time. I was making my entire month’s salary in just a week of running the business. I became conflicted because I wasn’t sure what to do. Obviously, being the managing director in a bank beats being a bartender but at the same time, I had found new energy in doing stuff I liked. I could also support causes I wanted, which was a major issue with the bank where I risked losing my job for participating in the EndSARS protests. I didn’t support the organisation’s values and running my own business meant I would be able to speak on issues that are important to me. 

I finally quit my job at the bank in March 2021. I was making my salary’s equivalent from a couple of days of business, all from the comfort of my home.  Sometimes, I have doubts, but the sense of fulfilment I get from making cocktails is unmatched. I didn’t want to be driven by profit all my life as an MD of a bank.

Omo. What did your wife think of your resignation?

She actually celebrated it. Far from considering me a failure, she knew I didn’t really enjoy my job and was glad I was following my passion.

How do you feel about your decision now?

It’s awesome being able to wake up when you want to and spend time with your family. I barely used to have any time to spend with my kids because I was always out early and back late. Now, I wouldn’t trade the time I spend with my children for anything else in the world. There’s no pressure to be the most profitable department, neither am I chasing crazy targets.

I’m not driven by profit. I just want to run an organisation that stands for people and the community. My dad however was not pleased, at first. My uncle, rest his soul, was a founding member of the bank where I worked and my dad had hoped to keep his brother’s name alive. Then again, he came from a different time where providing was a man’s most important duty and all the talk about passion and interest sounds like nonsense to him. Now, my parents are supportive but they weren’t always.

What’s it like being a father, especially now that you’ve quit your job?

My first kid is six and the second is two. My purpose changed when they were born. I stopped focusing on enjoying life and started focusing on how to be a provider for my kids. My parents did a decent job of keeping us comfortable and I wanted to be able to do more as a father.

Now, our relationship has improved. They’re happy to see me more often. I’m glad I’m able to nurture a relationship with them which I couldn’t have done while working at the bank. To them, I’d probably still be that grumpy man that comes back home every evening in a suit in a bad mood. I’m grateful for that. We have a great time watching cartoons together and that gives me a sense of being involved. Providing for your kids isn’t just the money you’re bringing, it’s also your time and attention.

How does having a family conflict with your need for your own space?

It’s tough sometimes. Sometimes I just want to mute everything around me, if I’m being honest. I’ve also created my own space where I can always go to be a recluse. Not to say I don’t love being around my kids — they’re the best things in my life.

What’s your biggest fear as a father?

There are many fears that come with fatherhood but my biggest fear is waking up one day and being unable to provide for my family. My wife is an industrious hard worker and I know that if at any point, I become unable to provide, she’ll pick up easily but it’s still a fear that always nags at me. With every weekend, I feel like that’s the weekend I wouldn’t get any orders and it would mean the failure of my business. I’m afraid people are going to wake up one day and think, “these cocktails are rubbish” and they wouldn’t order anymore. I still receive offers from competing banks but I don’t think I’m going back to a life of not being myself. I don’t want that anymore.

Check back every Sunday by 12 pm for new stories in the Man Like series. If you’d like to be featured or you know anyone that would be perfect for this, kindly send an email.

Are you a man who would like to be interviewed for a Zikoko article? Fill this form and we’ll be in your inbox quicker than you can say “Man Dem.”

Olufemi Fadahunsi

Join The Conversation

Bring a friend.

You'll like this

April 12, 2021

I am genuinely fascinated by relationship dynamics between Nigerians especially when it comes to giving gifts to their partners. So I set out to speak to as many Nigerian men who were willing to speak to me and asked them who the most generous partner they’ve ever had is. And the answers amazed me. Here […]

September 18, 2020

Sony just announced the prices of their new home video game console, PlayStation 5 and the world is loving it. Starting from $500 for the PS5 and $400 for the PlayStation 5 Digital Edition, there’s a lot of anticipation for the long-awaited game console. If you’re interested in getting a PS5, but you don’t have […]

Watch

Now on Zikoko

leaving their ex
June 18, 2021

Sometimes we get overwhelmed and make decisions we later regret. In this article, seven Nigerian women talk about why they regret leaving their ex.  Tomisin, 25 My ex used to send me not less than 50k every month.  He moved abroad and after two months, he told me he has fallen in love with someone […]

June 18, 2021

People love us for various reasons. Take this quiz and we’ll tell you what your friends love most about you. Relationships can be hard, and sometimes you just need someone to give you a bit of advice. Ask Ozzy is our new advice column where you send Zikoko the relationship questions that have been bugging […]

June 17, 2021

While smart investing is a sure way to build and retain wealth, it can be a daunting prospect for beginners. In the same vein, it is a lot easier when you understand the various options in which you can invest and ultimately grow your wealth. Here are some options you can consider when taking the […]

June 17, 2021

The BBNaija Lockdown Reunion (2020’s edition of Big Brother Naija) show will air on the 17th of June 2021. Keeping with the tradition of the show, the reunion will be hosted by Ebuka Obi Uchendu and will feature some of the BBN: Lockdown housemates talking about memorable moments from their season while also hashing out […]

Recommended Quizzes

November 27, 2019

Do you have a face that could make angels jealous, or should you really be walking around with a nylon bag over your head so you don’t scare children? Well, this quiz is here to answer that by telling you exactly how good-looking you are. Take and find out: 11 Quizzes For People Who Aren’t […]

how much of an ajebutter
February 12, 2020

Are you an ajebutter or not? Well, if you’ve gone through life blissfully unaware of its harshness, then you probably are. Now, we want to know just how high you rank on that ajebutter scale, using your food preferences as a (very accurate) measure. Take to find out:

October 29, 2019

We are going to be attempting to guess when you’ll marry based on your favourite Nigerian foods. What does your fave swallow have to do with when you’ll tie the knot? Please, don’t ask complicated questions. This quiz is rigorous and accurate (don’t quote us), so just take it already. QUIZ: Why Do You Have […]

November 22, 2019

It can be very stressful when you’re trying to find the love of your life, but you only keep meeting people that are exactly like your yeye ex. To help you be more aware of that problem, we’ve created a quiz that lets you know the kind of people you are attracting. Take it to […]

October 30, 2019

2010 was a game-changing one for Nollywood, with our movies making serious cash and getting international acclaim. So, which of these hits released between 2010 and 2019 — from the pace-setting The Wedding Party to the divisive Trip To Jamaica — best suits your personality? Well, that’s what this quiz is here to answer:

November 20, 2019

Last month, we thoughtfully made a quiz telling you guys exactly when you’ll marry, but some of you claimed that your spouse was nowhere to be found. Well, now we’ve created one that’ll tell you exactly who you’ll be dragging down that aisle. Take and start planning that wedding: 11 Quizzes For Nigerians Who Are […]

More from Man Dem

June 17, 2021

Everyone has those small, seemingly minor things that turn them off people, commonly called an “ick”. We spoke to seven men about what their unforgivable, weirdest ick is and they had some hilarious answers. Dave People who are too eager are my biggest icks. Maybe it’s my fear of commitment, but the more someone makes […]

June 13, 2021

What does it mean to be a man? Surely, it’s not one thing. It’s a series of little moments that add up. Man Like is a weekly Zikoko series documenting these moments to see how it adds up. It’s a series for men by men, talking about men’s issues. We try to understand what it means to […]

June 10, 2021

The story of the 10 Plagues of Egypt you read in the Bible was scary but it didn’t tell of all the plagues. There was one more it failed to mention. No, it’s not COVID-19. It’s women coming to your house and stealing your clothes. The reason why your money is running out is because […]

June 9, 2021

If you’re a Nigerian man, you probably grew up hearing that there are things you shouldn’t talk about because men don’t talk about things like that. Well, we’re here to tell you that they lied. These are six things you should never be afraid to talk about. 1. Our failures Here’s the thing: Everybody fails […]

June 9, 2021

The Twitter ban has affected a lot of people and businesses in different ways. We tend to overlook the impact Twitter has had in various aspects of our lives. One of such aspects is relationships. I spoke to 6 Nigerian men who found love on Twitter. They had such interesting stories. Tosin We had been […]

June 2, 2021

Fat people in Nigeria go through a lot of abuse and degradation from society at large. It seems they get no respite from the constant passive aggression and fatphobia. The male perspective on this topic isn’t often heard, so we talked to 5 men about what it was like to be fat in Nigeria. Tolu […]

June 2, 2021

We don’t hear enough stories about men being heartbroken or dumped even though we all know it happens. Today, we spoke to four Nigerian men on the worst ways they’ve been dumped. Tokunbo, 24. I had this lady, we had been dating for about a year or so. I was still in uni then and […]

May 31, 2021

When most Nigerians hear ‘submissive’ in the context of a relationship, they envision a woman. However, this isn’t always the case. Many men are subs in the bedroom and many have embraced that and are living very happy sex lives. Over the past few weeks, I have spoken to several people I knew who were […]

Watch

Trending Videos

Zikoko Originals

December 14, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
November 2, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
October 26, 2020
A collection of videos documenting some of the events of the EndSARS protests.
June 22, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
June 22, 2020
Hacked is an interesting new series by Zikoko made up of fictional but hilarious chat conversations.
June 4, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
June 2, 2020
Quickie is a video series where everyone featured gets only one minute to rant, review or do absolutely anything.
May 14, 2020
Isolation Diary is a Zikoko series that showcases what isolation is like for one young Nigerian working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
March 12, 2020
Life is already hard. Deciding where to eat and get the best lifestyle experiences, isn't something you should stress about. Let VRSUS do that for you.

Z! Stacks

Here's a rabbit hole of stories to lose yourself in:

Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.
X