It is said that the hardest part of being a bartender is diffrentiating between the drunken from the stupid.
However, Delhi-based Hemant Pathak, who bagged a prize on July 18 at the 2011 Diageo Reserve World Class Bartenders awards, has a different view.
“That's just a talent that bartenders acquire over the years. There is much more to bartending than the general belief,” he laughs.
Hemant won the Best Bartender Award in the ‘Classic and Vintage drinks with a twist’ category. Recalling those days he says, “My previous training, along with the sessions received under Diageo finally paid off. The win was all the more special because the competition pitted me against the best in the world.”
With his past and current experience, when asked which is the most popular spirit in India according to him, he says, “Vodka, undoubtedly, because most Indians like cocktails with fruit variations, and you can experiment the most with fruits and vodka.”
Hemant started his career as a steward at Taj Palace Hotel in Delhi. However, his keen interest in shaking and stirring drinks led to his transition into a bartender, where he trained while on the job.
When it comes to craft, the upcoming trend seems to be flair bartending that has bartenders churning out fancy tricks with bottles.
Opining on its popularity in India, he says, “It’s too early for flair bartending to takeover in India, since clientele here as well as the bartenders concentrate on the art of mixology - the science of creating cocktails with the right ingredients and mixtures.”
Bartending is an imported art, but Hemant says that the Indian elements in cocktails have been present since antiquity.
“Cocktails like Old Fashionete are incomplete without a hint of cinnamon and clove in them. I also use a lot of lemongrass and ginger in my mixtures and they turn out exceptionally well.”
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Best chakna for your drinks:
Whiskey: Plain almonds and cashews
Vodka: Spicy papads or cashews
Beer: Deep fried almonds and spicy peanuts
Rum: Wasabi nuts, sunflower seeds fried with spices
Wine: Cheese and blended nuts