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India’s Top 5 Mixologist

The considerable gap between the terms ‘chef’ and ‘cook’ is grammatically disconcerting but socially acceptable. You would never have walked around and referred to Joel Roubouson as a ‘ cook, ‘ simply because the precision, skill and talent that brought him to the title of ‘ Chef of the Century ‘ gained him a certain rank and admiration. How, then, people have such difficulties in recognizing the common distinction between bartenders and mixologists? Accurate, there are many outstanding bartenders, those who will mix you a flawless drink every time and serve it with their own signature blossom, but to enter the arena of mixology, as in the elite culinary world, it requires so much more. Throughout India, you’re more likely to come across the word being misused simply because we’re still in the early stages of the campaign. It’s true that food culture in India has taken huge strides in recent years, whether it’s healthy eating or rediscovering classic flavours, that Indian customers have become more conscious of what they’re putting in their mouths, and that the alcohol industry has been on board for a journey.

Well! Having a natural flair for the road-less travelled, mastering their skills, and knowing what it takes to be at the top of their craft. We’re talking about the top Indian mixologist who keeps sculpting their way, who has redefined success in a new and refreshing manner.

1. Hemant Pathak

The man who gave Indian Mixology a place on the world map. His Mumbai Margarita was in the race for the Margarita of the Year Award. His mantle is beautifully decorated with prestigious awards like the World Class ‘ Classic Cocktail with a Twist ‘ (2011) and the Legacy Cocktail Competition India (2012) awards. From a new hospitality graduate in 2008 to a world-renowned Mixologist today, the success of Pathak in nine short years can only be characterized as awe-inspiring. Sprinkle that with his determination to constantly improve his art and passion for promoting his global learning in his home country, and you’d have to be made of stone to resist being enthralled.

2. Ami Behram Shroff

Flair bartending is a phenomenon, and Ami Behram Shroff wanted to give her a shot when she was just a teenager. She’s never gone back since then. As a consequence, today she is one of India’s few flair bartenders to be looked after for special occasions and events. That isn’t enough; she’s also an expert mixologist that makes her a true professional at the bar. Flair bartending is actually an art of captivating the audience with the tools available at the bar, which include shakers, bottles, glasses, ice and so on, and mixing fire, juggling and even magic. Realistically speaking, mixology is the research and practice of combining and inventing modern drinks and mock-tails. As per her Social media profile, she has been able to do the job at more than 20 destinations across India and beyond, at more than 1,000 events, from backyard pool parties to prestigious corporate functions and conventions.

3. Rohan Rege

The Pune Mixologist wins India’s biggest bartender competition in India. Mixologists from all over the world participate in the World Class Competition, and India is, of course, a proud participant of it. The 2017 Indian competition concluded with Rohan Rege from Paasha, JW Marriott Pune, as the winner.

4. Shatbhi Basu

Deemed to be one of the legends of bartending in India with over three decades of experience, Shatbhi Basu is seen as an inspiration and evidence that a great deal of hard work and determination can accomplished anything. Operating her own bartending institute in Mumbai called the Stir Academy of Bartending; Shatbhi has never stopped contributing to this sector. She hosted TV shows on mixology and wrote columns in mainstream newspapers. She runs a number of workshops across the country and is trying to keep this art alive among women. It also published the first comprehensive guide to alcoholic beverages and cocktails relevant to Indian conditions called ‘The Can’t Go Wrong Book of Cocktails’.

5. Vibhuti Angane

Bartending as a viable career has seen a boom in recent years and continues to expand. Professionals like Vibhuti Angane are the ones who keep this art alive and thriving.

Drink Trends to Watch in 2020

As 2020 begins, it is time to predict the trends in drinks that will define the upcoming year. This isn’t an easy thing! Last year, we had forecast that sherry-based drinks, closed-loop liquors and health and well-being discussions would rule the bar culture. From the upswing of Instagrammable drinks to the request for low-ABV liqueurs that keep the night going, the way we drink constantly changes.

Is this the year when the word natural wine kicks the bucket? And how much will the market for no-and low-ABV drinks rise?

There are a range of developments that are expected to drive the creation of the drink sector in 2020 – from the increase of highballs beyond classic gin and tonic to the growth of tea-inspired spirits and syrups. We can’t say where it’s going next for sure, but we have got some clue.

Can Taxes Influence Everything?

While reportedly, the proposed 100% tariffs that destabilize the entire US wine industry might potentially determine consumer purchasing decisions in 2020. Those of us who enjoy rosé wines in the summer can expect to see a huge rise in the price of bottles from Europe. It is also likely that selection will be greatly reduced if, as many in the industry predict, smaller importers and distributors struggle to survive with the added business expense. Various popular summer drinks, including Aperol Spritz, will also be affected. (Aperol liqueur and Prosecco are also subject to the planned tariff increases.) The same applies to Negroni, with Campari being subject to possible duties. Heading into the winter, when the colder months demand for heavier pours, Irish whiskey and Scotch could double the cost, making the desired evening glass even more precious. And once the time arrives to finally toast a new year, drinkers would be better off rationing Champagne or looking for non-European or domestic alternatives.

Gins!

Gins continue to rule the roost with the millennials with more variety than ever before – ginger and lemongrass, shiraz, rhubarb and ginger, bathtub gin, tanglin gin and many others. Infact gin with its varieties is now taking as much space on good bars as the single malts – and that’s saying something!

Low And No-Proof Cocktails Will Occur On Menus!

Last year, we forecasted that low-and non-proof cocktail lists would go global. With responsible alcohol consumption (especially among millennial) and a growing wellness culture, it seemed natural for bars across the country to follow the lead of high-profile, large-city establishments in offering a range of low ABV choices. In fact, many bartenders around the country followed suit and introduced complex spirit-free selections to their cocktail programs. This year, we believe that the movement will develop further and become part of the mainstream.

Time For Some Tea!

The hunt for new flavours to play with has brought some of the best and the brightest bartenders in the ancient world of tea. Tea-infused spirits, syrups and other homemade creations have made an appearance in some of the 2019’s highest-profile menu launches – and the trend does not seem ready to end there. Thanks to its level of tannins, tea can bring a drying sensation in its undulating form and can even be fermented to create kombucha and bring more complex flavours to the fore.

Hard Seltzer Is Not Going Anywhere!

Without some kind of doubt, the main trend of 2019 was the meteoric rise of the hard seltzer category. But while similarly hyped fads often fail to meet the time test, we believe that hard seltzers are here to stay in 2020 and even beyond. In October 2019, a beer report showed that five of the top ten dollar growth brands in the year were hard seltzers. When we reached out to the brewers for their predictions of the 2020 beer ecosystem, many also referred to hard seltzer as a trend to watch.

Alternative Acids!

The complex flavours of a cocktail are the outcome of a careful balance of sweet salty, bitter and sour ingredients. Increasingly, the root of a drink’s sour characteristic has come from further afield than the humble citrus fruit. Although lemon juice and lime juice can add a touch of zest to the cocktails, bartenders are now also turning to other sources for this acidic hit. Eco-minded bartenders have found ways to convert citrus skins into sour stocks that can add a pop, and other experts have turned to home-made creations such as vinegar-based shrubs and highly acidic but savoury cordials. Diluted citric, malic and phosphoric acid solutions are now also available in bars. They offer greater consistency and can provide incentives for creativity and innovation.

Gin’s Growing Popularity in India

Previously thought of as old-fashioned, millennials are now warming up to gin. Grain spirit, the main flavour of which is juniper berries, is seeing a resurgence of new varieties of gin as well as new consumers.

India, too, is joining this worldwide trend, with gin slowly regaining popularity in metro cities across the country. While making a comeback, the spirit is also getting a makeover and is no longer confined to traditional aspects. It has set out to upend the cocktail experience with its new recreations of home-grown infusions or craft gin.

This has given rise to a new trendy drink that has incorporated ingredients ranging from citrus, floral and fruity to spices and herbs. It’s an essence whose subtle taste endears to the Indian palate and an indication of Indians ‘ rising love of spirit is the country’s first gin bar, Juniper in Andaz Delhi.

As the spirit continues to expand in popularity, experimentation with a wide array of depths and aromatic intensity is likely to boost in the New Year and decade. Not only the creators, but the drinkers, too, are anticipated to get more innovative with their gin. 2020 will see the introduction of more personalized domestic gin brands with competitive price points take over the Indian market. In addition, the demand for sensory experiences around gin as well as mixology workshops among Indian consumers will also increase. Gin’s alliance with India traces back to an era of British rule.

Increasing the versatility of the craft

The rise of crafts has resulted in the resurgence of historically suffering genres, such as gin. This point to the potential for craft drinks to develop across other spirit categories in India as well. The growth in craft placement is an example of how luxury is transforming – from accessible indicators to more subtle ones. Millennials, in particular, now see such luxury as a way of showing their discernment and how it makes them stand out.

Gin gets an update

Gin was considered a ‘ old man’s liquor ‘ in Western markets just ten years ago, but the craft has breathed new life into the spirit all over the world, including India. In reality, cocktails have proved to be key to rising gin’s popularity in India. Restaurants and bars in urban India are experiencing a higher demand for gin cocktails, despite the fact that they are less sweet than regular cocktails.

Inclination to Home-grown brands

Nearly half of Indians prefer to buy local brands over global brands. According to reports, almost half of Indian consumers prefer to buy local brands rather than global ones. Home-grown brands will utilize this to strengthen and broaden their presence in India. More brands are joining a rising tribe of premium home-grown food and beverage companies that appeal to customers with a global outlook searching for similar experiences in India. Many buyers have adapted beyond considering foreign brands to be of higher quality and are proud of what their own country has to offer.

In the area of alcohol, as Indian consumers begin to demand higher quality at less exorbitant prices compared to imported brands, there is scope for local brands to step up and fill the market gap.