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World Bartender Day: Mumbai mixologists on their favourite cocktails

Updated on: 23 February,2023 10:50 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Sammohinee Ghosh |

Ahead of World Bartender Day, city-based mixologists share about the one drink that inspired them to take the road less travelled

World Bartender Day: Mumbai mixologists on their favourite cocktails

Bartenders say that working with cocktails requires years of research

Stirred, not shaken
Shatbhi Basu, India’s first woman bartender

It happened over a martini. Back then, I was working as assistant manager at a restaurant called Chopsticks on Linking Road. One day my manager told me that he was putting me in charge of the bar and I was expected to make cocktails, too. I knew how to make cocktails theoretically and he reckoned I would figure out the practical bit. The first order came in almost immediately, before I could open my books and start reading. A gentleman wanted a dry martini. I knew what went into the drink and while the bar had gin, it didn’t have any dry vermouth. To substitute the flavour, I took a stirrer and dipped it in a bottle of aperitivo. I wanted to get the flavour without picking up the colour. I, then, stirred the drink with ice, gin and a little bit of white wine. The gentleman liked the drink so much that he ordered another one. My go-to drink is vodka with diet coke. I feel enjoying a cocktail at a bar is too much pressure — for me and the bartender as well.

A juggling act
Ami Shroff, flair bartender and trainer

It wasn’t really a drink that inspired me to take up barkeeping as a profession. It was Tom Cruise in the 1988 film, Cocktail that pulled me into it. The jazz, acrobatics and skills involved in it left me enthralled. Now when I think of the film, the character played by Cruise was performing basic flair but it fascinated a 13-year-old. My interest grew further when I met flair bartenders as a young adult. After stepping into this world, I started learning the basics. So initially, it was about the classics and different techniques. A little while later, when I could try my hand at cocktails, I started liking the flavours of fresh ingredients at the bar. I started using flowers and tea a lot. Spiking my favourite iced tea with a shot of gin or vodka felt great. If I happen to hit the bar now I would like some India Pale Ale — my best liked kind of root beer. In the case of a spirit, I would opt for a gin and tonic with lots of ice and some slices of lime.

A drink a day
Franklyn D’Souza, bartender, Saz American Brasserie

A classic old fashioned — that’s what inspired me to become a mixologist. Our class was at the Trident in Nariman Point in 2017 for a session on food and beverage. That’s where this classic drink was introduced to me. A perfectly balanced concoction was created using only three ingredients — bitters, sugar and whiskey. At that moment, I realised what I wanted to do. I wanted to travel and experiment with new cocktail flavours from around the world. For youngsters who are looking to explore this profession, my suggestion is to learn about a new drink every day. Remember to serve others before serving yourself, learn to substitute flavours, and never stop experimenting. Also, don’t drink while mixing.

It happened in a sip
Vaibhav Billava, bar executive, Neuma

Two drinks piqued my interest in bartending — negroni, and espresso martini. I tasted the drinks as part of a seminar during my hotel management course. The taste and memory of it has stayed with me since. When I drink with friends or colleagues, I prefer a G&T or negroni. Although this field of work doesn’t involve rocket science, it demands a certain kind of passion.

Bar menus to try out

>> This special Mardi Gras Menu will feature drinks named masquerade, carnival (below), flambeaux and feathered.
Till: Sunday; 12 pm to 11.30 pm
At: Saz American Brasserie, Jio World Drive, BKC
Cost: Rs 650

>> Witness The Bombay Canteen lock horns with Sidecar from Delhi in this city-inspired showdown.
On: Saturday; 7.30 pm onwards
At: The Bombay Canteen, Kamala Mills, Lower Parel
Cost: Rs 775

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