Actually attending a workshop on bartending. I usually conduct these kind of workshops myself. A lot of people thought I was nuts. Why attend a workshop on a subject I consider myself a pro at
Angus Winchester, a bartender/bar consultant from London was here courtesy the FHRAI - the apex body of the Indian Hotel Federation. For me, it was an opportunity to observe a professional doing what I do. And an opportunity to figure out whether we, as Indian professionals, measure up to international standards. Trust me when I say that we do.
It taught me that in spite of the fact that the Indian bartending fraternity does not get a chance to international exposure, we are doing everything that the rest of the world is doing and more.
Going out, of course, was showing Angus Mumbai hospitality which I think is, well, warmer than a pot of chai! Two days of visiting that I must share with you. Day one started with Olive and my friend Eric Lobo. Who very kindly hung on while we braved the traffic from the Leela (where the 2-day workshop was held) to Bandra. As expected, he had his inimitable concoctions, which had Angus quite absorbed. Frozen kokum flavored nimbu pani topped with sparkling wine, a mean sangria, a deadly vodka spiked concoction with serious spices and his special infused spirits. This is a guy who means serious business. We then drove over to Hawaiin Shack to give Angus a feel of a local Bandra favourite. He loved it. The bartenders made it better with some crazy shots. Next stop Seven atop Shoppers Stop. Where Angus wanted the young bartenders T-shirt more than a drink! He was amazed at Zenzi - where style met space. Definitely somewhere to unwind with DJ Kris whos a whiz.
Then another local hard-core drinkers paradise with serious music - On Toes in Juhu. Its always packed! Surprisingly, they serve great snacks with their chicken Afghani kebab to die for. The last stop of the evening was one of the oldest chota nightclubs which seems to survive it all.
Round 2 began with Bollywood Dhaba in Colaba - to get a feel of some local filmi cocktail flavour. He tried a Kashmir ki Kali - an apple and honey margarita and was suitably impressed. Then on to Indigo where we tried a Mojito and a melon margarita. Next stop Red Light - a Parmeshwar Godrej interior creation which scares me to death yet I cannot ignore coz of some of my favourite bartenders. A Churchills Down Cooler later we traipsed into the Library Bar where Maria still reigns supreme. Then a peek at Geoffreys (couldnt resist showing an Englishman an English bar!) and finally to Not Just Jazz by the Bay. Where the crowd, the music and the bartenders weaved their magic.
Angus Winchester was suitably impressed with both our bar culture and our hospitality. Yes, we have a long way to go as far as serious cocktail bars go, but Mumbai still rocks. And Mumbaikars rock even more. Yes, he visited Dilli, Bangalore and Kolkata before our own fair city. Yahoo!