Cape Town's Tattooed Bartender AJ Snetler to 'mix it up' in Mumbai

Updated: Jan 24, 2018, 14:05 IST | Anindita Paul

Cape Town's Tattooed Bartender talks about cocktails, hangovers, and being an eco-friendly innovator

While in Mumbai, AJ Snetler is keen to infuse Indian flavours in his cocktails
While in Mumbai, AJ Snetler is keen to infuse Indian flavours in his cocktails

It's been a busy week for AJ Snetler, or the Tattooed Bartender as the 29-year-old is better known across social media platforms. In the city on a short visit, the bearded, man-bunned mixologist has been stirring up a storm at House of Nomad, Taj Land's End, Bandra. We connected with Snetler to learn more about the art of cocktail-making, and what gets his creative juices flowing. Excerpts from the chat.

I became a bartender because… I didn't have anything better to do then! I was working as a sound technician at a club, and began helping out behind the bar. I was always interested in cooking, and this evolved into an interest in cocktails and mixology, especially with the creativity involved in the craft. When the owners started their new venture, they invited me to take charge of the bar.

Being a top bartender involves… a lot of hard work. Most people don't know that I still work 14-15 hours a day. When I created the 'Tattooed Bartender' handle on social media, I wasn't doing it to become a celebrity mixologist — it was an amalgamation of my passion for bartending and my love for tattoos. Above all, I wanted to showcase my skills. At the end of the day, your work will speak for itself.

A mantra I live by is… the more you care about people, the more they will care about you. The Cape Town bar industry is a close-knit family. We are constantly sharing content about each other, and creating a sense of community. Innovation is… everything, especially in a creative environment. You have to constantly seek ways to improve yourself, your own bar environment and the industry you are a part of. Besides, I am always looking for ways to reduce the environmental impact of my work — be it by reducing the use of plastic, reusing materials or repurposing ingredients regarded as kitchen waste into cocktails. I also often use culinary ingredients and techniques such as coffee roasting and teapot brewing.

While in India, I am... using more local ingredients, such as fresh mango puree. Bartenders unwind by... pranking each other. We are especially partial to the Drip Mat Shot game. At the end of a shift, we pour all the juice and alcohol spilled on the drip mats on the bar into shot glasses and make each other drink that. When I'm not bartending… I'm skating, surfboarding or riding my motorcycle.

A quick way to liven up a house party… is with punches. They're easy to make — all you need is juice and alcohol. Use fresh ingredients such as mango, lime and cranberry juice. Decorate with edible flowers or fruit garnishes. 2018 is going to be… all about gin. Rum is catching up rapidly too. Best cure for a hangover… is a beer or a bloody Mary.

Snetler specials
La Familia
Pour out 50ml each of tequila, homemade rose-pepper and pineapple juice mix, 30ml lime juice and 20ml simple syrup in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake well. Pour into an old-fashioned glass, add ice and garnish with a slice of dragon fruit.

Ana Sophia
Shake 15ml egg white in a cocktail shaker until frothy. Add 50ml vodka, 30ml lavender syrup, 20ml lime juice, 20ml dry white wine and ice to the shaker and shake well. Strain and pour into a Riesling or white wine glass. Garnish with an orchid flower.

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