Here's to Mumbai

Updated: Aug 25, 2019, 14:55 IST | Anju Maskeri |

Devender Kumar, head mixologist at top Hong Kong bar, channels his experience into curating cocktails for Mumbaikars this weekend

Mixologist Devender Kumar
Mixologist Devender Kumar

Devendra Kumar, head mixologist at Hong Kong's 8 1/2 Otto E Mezzo Bombana—ranked  no. 26 (2017) and no.24 (2018) on Asia’s 50 Best Bars List - is in Mumbai for a two-day event. He will curate cocktails over the weekend for Lower Parel resto-bars Remo and Thirsty City 127.

How did you curate the drinks for the Mumbai chapter?

I worked in Mumbai six years ago and that's how I know what people like. Keeping that in mind, I also wanted to bring down what we believe in back at 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana, Hong Kong. We are an aperitif bar in Hong Kong that serves classics, so for Remo's, which is a speakeasy, we did the Il Nome Della Rosa which is a classic Negroni with a Mezcal with the use of a sous vide machine, we add that culinary touch to it. The 20th Century is a classic that was created in the 19th century—a modern approach to that is with the use of a citrus acid solution instead of using lemon juice which was in the original recipe. This drink is perfect for Remo's considering that the 19th century was when there were speakeasies, and when people ventured out to these hidden bars to get themselves a drink. Thirsty City 127 being a high-end craft cocktail bar, the 8 1/2 Negroni, Pocket Square and Return to love were a perfect fit for the brand and the vibe.

Il Nome Della Rosa at Remo's
Il Nome Della Rosa at Remo's

Can you name some of favourite drinks from the menu?

Penecea is a beautiful spirit-forward cocktail, citrusy, perfect after-meal cocktail that is a combination of aged rum, amaro which is from Italy, citrus solution, honey infused with thyme. Another favourite is the Il nome della rosa that combines an aggressive ingredient, Mezcal with a delicate ingredient Rose.

Are there any trends in mixology that you're experimenting with?

We focus on low about cocktails at Otte E Mezzo, that's something I believe in, also a trend catching up worldwide. Another trend is the use of sous vide machine in a cocktail prep, which adds a culinary touch to cocktails. Il Nome Della Rosa is the first drink I created that follows this trend. Another one that I want to explore is the use of oils to clarify, but in a very simple manner so the drink tastes elegant and yet stays simple in the way it looks.

Pocket square
Pocket Square cocktail at Thirsty City 127

Coolest part about being a bartender

The thing that excites me the most is that you work in the same place every single day, but every day is different. You meet people from different parts of the world, of different nationalities that develops you as a person. What adds a cherry on the cake is the fact that you get to travel for work, just like in this case. Conversations with guests add a lot of value to you not just as a bartender but also as a person. You don't just speak to your guest about the beverage, meaningful conversations, sharing ideas and cultures is what adds to the overall bar experience.

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