She flips the bottles with ease, juggles the glasses with élan and concocts the perfect cocktail to lift your spirits. Raise your toast to the Indian women bartenders. A male bastion until recently, bartending is increasingly becoming a popular career option for women in India.
"In contrast to 10 years back when we had 100 per cent male domination in this field, today the ratio has become 70 per cent male to 30 per cent female," Sandeep Verma of the Institute of Bar Operations and Management here told IANS.
So what is so attractive about bartending that's pulling the fairer sex towards it?
"It's liberating. I enjoy partying and mixing drinks. So I decided to take it up professionally," says Angha, who has been bartending here for two years.
Though not yet as popular as other career choices like medicine or engineering, bartending is slowly gaining momentum among the female crowd, especially in metros like Mumbai, New Delhi and Bangalore.
For instance, Mumbai currently has at least 10 women bartenders in comparison to a mere two-three about two years ago.
Over the past year, bartending training institutes have been opened - one each in Chennai and Bangalore while Mumbai and New Delhi already have three. Shadbi Basu, who heads the School of Bartenders in Mumbai, says things have started looking upbeat since the time she started her institute in 1999.
"There is better response now and people have stopped giving you those glares when you tell them that you are a bartender. But as always, there is space for improvement," remarks Basu.
Bartending, she says, is not popular as a profession among women but freelancing is definitely on the rise.
"There is a rising number of freelance women bartenders but not many want to take it up professionally ... mainly because of the legal hassles that come attached to it.
"First it's made legal for women to serve as bartenders, then they say that you can't bartend until the age of 21 and then there are some more complications. It seems like the government's very confused and hence most of these girls who want to take it up full time are not very confident in doing so," she adds.
Agrees Verma, who says that about 10-15 girls from his institute have gone abroad to places like Dubai and Switzerland to pursue their dreams because of the complications here.
But for many, the ray of hope for this profession here has become brighter in recent years.
Amy Shroff, who has been bartending for the past three years in Mumbai, says she loves her job despite the hassles.
"I think it's your attitude that matters. If you are professionally trained, you will know how to handle difficult customers and sail through your profession," she quips when asked about the safety concerns that discourage many from taking up this profession.
"In fact I think bartending is one of the safest professions for women. Apart from the 14-20-inch bar that separates you from your customer, there are other male colleagues who will not tolerate any misbehaviour towards you.
And then you have the bouncers. I think the safety factor is to be considered more while walking on the roads of Delhi or Mumbai," says Amy.
Adds Basu: "The whole safety factor in case of women bartenders is blown out of proportion. Why isn't it considered in case of women in housekeeping in hotels or those working till late night in restaurants and coffee shops? These days more and more educated women are entering this field just like they are in any other like the defence forces."
And of course, it pays well too. Amy and her friend Delnaz, who have been bartending for quite some time, say one can take home anything up to Rs.40,000 per show.