The Taj Mahal Palace and Tower has employed its first resident mixologist. Briton Tim Etherington-Judge (33) was headhunted from a boutique cocktail bar in New Zealand. He will be introducing a new cocktail menu with six cocktails of the month at the Harbour Bar, and is also working on a new concept, that he can’t yet reveal, for the Starboard Bar.
According to Judge, the most popular cocktails in India are Mojito, Margarita, Long Island Iced Tea and Martini-based, which are also the top ones across the world.
But, he says, Indians don’t know enough about cocktails. “There is a lot of new money, where people just want to be seen with brands… So you see someone having a Johnnie Walker Blue Label with Coke here. There is really no point in doing that. The other day, I was even asked for a virgin Martini!” he exclaims.
Apart from creating new cocktails, he is teaching the staff the use of ingredients and ways of serving cocktails. “I have been tasked with bringing these bars up to an international standard, so I want to make sure that the drinks here are served as well as they are in The Pierre in New York,” he explains.
Judge is passionate about mixing a drink correctly, rather than flair bartending. Traditionally, cocktails contained spirits and bitters such as Angostura Bitter, sugar and water, he explains. “Only Angostura is available in India, whereas in New York a bar would stock 50 to 60 bitters,” he informs.
Judge hates cocktails like Pina Colada. “These are horrible drinks with disgusting alcohol with lots of juices, that emanate from the 80s when cocktail-making went through a bad patch. To make a good Pina Colada, you would need to use slow roasted coconut and caramelised pineapple juice,” he reveals.
In his five-year career, he has won a string of awards, including representing the country in the 42 Below Cocktail World Cup.
“My mother passed away in 2005, so I went to New Zealand to follow my dreams. Most good bartenders have not done courses because as soon as you do, you are out-of-date,” he avers.