Tuesday, December 6

The talent behind them cocktails

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Partha’s interest in mixology grew out of his inclination towards creative activities. Having trained  in cocktail making, he started his career 10 years back and has been working at Gold for four years.

“Freelancing at corporate cocktail-mocktail parties while studying gave me practical exposure. I served at the prestigious Navy Ball party in 2012 along with 400 trained bartenders and thereafter came back to Calcutta to work at Marriott. One of my most memorable moments was serving a mocktail to our former President Pranab Mukherjee,” said Partha, who feels the most important quality of a bartender is to be innovative. “Now people prefer cocktails with a local touch and fresh products. Based on imagination and innovation, we are creating cocktails using ice moulds, fresh fruits, in-house-made bitters and flavoured syrups, herbs and spices. For me, customer relationship and customer service is important as well as serving responsibly,” added Partha.Signature cocktail: Darknight that is vodka-based and prepared with pineapple and lemon juice, lavender syrup, a dash of orange bitters and soda. It is served with a specially designed Batman ice mould in a highball glass.

aybrata Paul, The Brewhive

Jaybrata’s career as a bartender started eight years ago with getting his skills honed at various renowned bars in this city, before joining The Brewhive in 2019.

“The best part about being a mixologist is a chance to be creative and here at The Brewhive, I have got the liberty to experiment and create various in-house syrups and concoctions that have so far been appreciated. I follow the basics of bartending and that serves as a base for me to create something new. I have made quite a few experiments with the classic margarita. Thinking out of the box and creating new concoctions that appease the Calcutta palate gives me immense happiness,” said Jaybrata.Signature cocktail: American Sour — bourbon-based and prepared with Jack Daniel’s, shaken with orange liqueur, apricot syrup, egg white, lime and fresh orange juice. It is garnished with an orange slice.

Ipsita Chakraborty, Chapter 2

Ipsita’s penchant for mixing flavours up started at quite a tender age. She stepped into this profession three years back, merely out of passion after being unsatisfied with her own experiences at bars in the city, and joined Chapter 2 last year.

“Mixology is beyond alcohol. It is the curiosity to understand an element from its core. I have not taken any formal training but felt that there was a lack of flavour in the cocktails being served. At Chapter 2, I got the independence to create new things. Keeping in mind the old Calcutta flavours, I came up with simple cocktails. People consider Calcutta as a sweet palate, but the age group that is drinking cocktails is changing now and people love bland and spicy taste too. It should be digestive and refreshing. We are also preparing with greens instead of the regular fruits because vegetables don’t have so much sugar. I make most of my ingredients at home with various elements I pick up while travelling,” said Ipsita, who considers herself a “cook” at the bar. “A good cocktail is about understanding the layers. I chose to get into this industry to make a difference and that’s why my attitude behind the bar is different,” added Ipsita.Signature cocktail: Bitter Sweet Symphony is a tequila-based concoction, a favourite with black coffee lovers. Inspired from Cafe Patron, this bitter-sweet cocktail is a flavourful drink prepared with black coffee and in-house rosemary reduction.

Swastik Chattopadhyaya, Pour House

Swastik, who recently was in the list of India’s top 12 finalists in a global mixology competition, has been in the industry for the past 12 years.

“After completing my graduation in hotel management, I wanted to become a chef but ended up becoming a bartender. I mostly follow the Japanese bartending trends. There are a lot of skills to learn… starting from the ice-making process, style of shaking, choosing ingredients along with the base spirits. All of these are important qualities of a mixologist. Every guest has different taste buds and for me, this is the most challenging part. If they are satisfied, it is always an amazing feeling,” said Swastik. “While at the bar, my focus remains in brand knowledge, creating drinks in a sustainable manner, reducing wastage and preparing concoctions with local ingredients and making my own syrups and cordial,” said Swastik.Signature Cocktail: Gin-O-Sour that has gin infused with sweet lime peel, berry compote, lime juice and egg white (optional). The sour texture of the cocktail comes from the lime, while a sweet flavour exudes from the berries mixed with a smooth and dry note from the egg white.  

Sk. Abbasuddin, Sab Ka Club

Having trained in hospitality, Sk. Abbasuddin started his journey as a mixologist five years back after training under mixologist Irfan Ahmed.

“I have introduced a lot of innovative cocktails at SKC with focus on flavours, presentation and garnish. I give utmost importance to flavours and our burnt orange cocktail with a caramelised flavour and Popsicle Sangria, have been quite a hit. We try innovative presentations too at SKC, where we serve in ice bowls. For me as a mixologist, the most important thing is to have an understanding of the individual spirits in terms of taste and colour. Garnishing too plays an important role in adding to the overall experience,” said Sk. Abbasuddin.Signature cocktail: Popsicle Sangria is a flavourful and soothing red wine sangria made with cranberry juice, apple juice, cinnamon, basil leaves and fruits like green apple, malta orange and red apple. It is served with an apple-flavoured popsicle.

Samrat Poddar, The Lords and Barons

Samrat, whose bartender journey spans over a period of 11 years, has been juggling spirits and preparing concoctions for Calcuttans for the past six months at the Park Street address.

“As a mixologist, knowing and understanding the guest’s choice is the most important thing. I do follow the traditional methods of making cocktails but sometimes I like preparing infused cocktails too. I feel some of the qualities of a mixologist is to have good knowledge of the beverages and skill to prepare custom-made cocktails. It is always an honour when guests come and ask for cocktails of my choice to be served. I count their satisfaction as my achievement. Getting a chance to be a part of curating the bar menu for The Lords and Barons and having my signature concoctions featured on it gives me immense pleasure,” said Samrat.Signature cocktail: Leaves of Grass is a sweet-and-sour yet refreshing mix of white rum, litchi juice and lemongrass, garnished with orange peel and Kaffir lime leaves.

Pinaki Pal, Truly Publik

With a degree in hotel management and training in five-star properties, Pinaki’s journey behind the bar counter is of five years.

“When I joined Truly Publik, our bar consultant from the US trained us to prepare in-house syrups and ingredients. With the help of that training, I make my cocktails that are paired with a variety of dishes available here. Five years back, when I started my journey, the cocktail preference of Calcuttans were different. Classic drinks have a fixed style and ingredients but those classics need to be presented to the guests in a creative way, which is the job of a mixologist. Our serving style is also different, where the glasses are designed differently. For me, the most important quality of a mixologist is creativity and knowledge about the drinks, syrups and herbs,” said Pinaki.Signature cocktail: Jo Hokum is a whisky-based cocktail with prominent notes of orange and rosemary flavour. It is prepared with lime juice, rosemary, ginger syrup, orange marmalade, egg white, few dashes of Angostura bitters and whisky. Jo Hokum is served in an old-fashioned glass with maraschino cherry and orange peel garnish.

Sudeep Kumar Sikdar, Sly Fox

Watching Tom Cruise’s film Cocktail while in school inspired Sudeep to take up this profession. He has been preparing concoctions for 15 years now.

“I wanted to do something exceptional in this field. So, I focussed on knowledge and product. Our herbs and spices from India are going to China and Europe for different experiments, then why should we not use it? I thought of making cocktails with herbs of Indian origin and I wanted to make the cocktails keeping Indian palate along with the cultural associations in mind. This project was encouraged at Sly Fox, when I joined them. I got different products from different states of India like Meghalaya’s turmeric, Kerala’s black pepper and created a cocktail menu out of it. We don’t use sugar syrup as much and instead try to extract sweetness from natural flavours. I tried incorporating pickles in my cocktails too. We have a story crafted around all our cocktails at Sly Fox. What I like best is that I get to meet different people from different cultures,” said Sudeep.Signature cocktail: Meghalaya G&T is a turmeric-infused gin-based preparation with orange syrup, lemon juice and tonic with orange peel and rosemary sprig as garnishes.

Arpan Nandi, Canteen Pub and Grub

Being interested in the hospitality business, Arpan started his career eight years back, working in various bars of Calcutta. He has many awards and accolades in his bag.

“My aim is to serve simple and classy cocktails with great ingredients. Use of local ingredients is in trend now and I have designed the cocktail menu at Canteen focussed on the nostalgia of college and school canteen food with various unique flavours. When I started my bartending in Calcutta, people were a lot more orthodox. They would just order a cosmopolitan. Currently, people are willing to try other experimental concoctions. For me, the most important thing in this profession is the knowledge of products and preparing cocktails while striking a balance between being guest friendly and profitable,” said Arpan.Signature cocktail: Gham Ka Sathi Rum is a zesty and refreshing rum-based cocktail prepared with lime, sugar, aamchur, pineapple puree and aerated drink. The aamchur flavour adds a unique taste to the mix.

Surjan Ram Dogra, Lord of the Drinks

Starting his bartending career in Delhi in 2018, Surjan came back to Calcutta and joined Lord of the Drinks in 2019 to take up the challenge of satiating the Calcuttan’s taste buds with his creative concoctions.      

“Bartending or mixology makes me happy because it is a skilful job. It is interesting to learn new things every day. There are so many processes used to make cocktails like shaking, blending, stirring, build straight up, and every drink has its own process. I follow that while making drinks for our guests. I do not follow any trends, rather prefer experimenting organically. I feel that is what makes us different from one another. The important quality in mixology is balance of alcohol with their ingredients,” said Surjan.Signature cocktail: My 18th Birthday is a vodka-based creamy and rich cocktail prepared with vanilla, vodka, butterscotch ice cream, popcorn syrup and corn.

Source: Telegraph

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