Raising the bar
At the recently held city rounds for the India leg of the Ultimate Bartender Championship, brand ambassador Pankaj Balachandran shares his excitement on the country becoming the next hotspot for bartending
Monkey Shoulder, a premium whiskey brand brings the fourth season of the Ultimate Bartender Championship (UBC) to India. The seven-city competition is an all India hunt for the best bartenders across Delhi, Gurgaon, Pune, Mumbai, Goa, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Bengaluru. The third leg of the competition recently took place at The Elephant and Co. Gastropub in Baner and saw talented bartenders from popular bars and restaurants. Hosted by the Indian brand ambassador of the company, Pankaj Balachandran, the competition was broken down into five rounds — ingredient knowledge, mixing, nosing, pouring and the perfect serve.
Balachandran said, “Through this competition, we aim to educate bartenders on the basics of the craft. It is designed to test the basic, but most essential skills, required to be a successful bartender. According to me, the qualities needed to be a good bartender are to be hospitable, be humble and focus more on the technical aspects.”
Yash Shinde, the top scorer from Pune, has two years of bartending experience in bars such as Miami and Paasha at JW Marriott Pune. He said, “Bartending is my passion and I am very excited to be competing at this globally recognised event. Through this, I had the chance to meet some of the finest bartenders in the game.”
The top 20 scorers from across the country will proceed to the grand finale which will be held at the Monkey Shoulder UBC Camp, Ooty. The national winner will get an all expense paid trip to the London Cocktail Week in October. The championship focuses on uplifting and educating bartending skills in India.
Talking about how bartending has picked up as a career in India, Balachandran said, “As of today, bartenders have one of the most expensive price tags on them. A decade years ago, this wasn’t the case. There wasn’t much awareness or appreciation for the craft then but that is gradually changing. Today, there is much more awareness about bartending in India. More and more bartenders are working on an international level. India is going to be the next market for cocktails, bartending and mixology. Even outside India, there is a lot of buzz about Indian brands, and what Indian bartenders have to offer. In the next two-three years, India will be a hotspot for bartending as a career. With changing consumer demands, the kind of bars that are being developed here don’t just serve mojitos or elites, but are very focused on serving well-constructed cocktails.”