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Know your bartender

Asif Amir

Bar executive at Shisha since 2006

His tipple tale: Asif is one of the most sought-after men at the Shisha bar on Saturday nights. “I have not done a specialised course in bartending... it was just my love for music and the bar that got me here,” says Asif, who picked up the tricks of the trade from his seniors. “I am glad that I chose this career. I know as a bartender I will never be called a bore! I will always get to meet new people and will always have good music around me,” says the man who’s been lucky to serve stars like Saif Ali Khan, Ranveer Singh, Arjun Kapoor, Arjun Rampal and Bobby Deol.

Job challenge: Making the most of the few party hours. “The party scene is dying because of the early deadline and people are left asking for more. I feel sad when I have to say ‘no’ to my regular guests. By the time the party picks up, it is time to shut the club.”

His USP: He makes friends easily. “I can connect with people and so my guests can trust me. And, I don’t drink!” he laughs.

He’d love to: Serve Shah Rukh Khan.

Anubrata Mukherjee

Senior bar captain at Tantra since 2005

His tipple tale: When doing a hotel management course from MPTI in Calcutta, Anubrata realised that his forte lay in F&B. “It was an interesting career to explore since every day brings in new experiences with the different kinds of people that you meet. You also develop a personal relationship with many of them, which is an added incentive,” he says.

Job challenge: For Anubrata, it lies in “looking for ways to make my drinks better.”

His USP: Experimentation. “I like trying out different mixes and the best part is that people enjoy these innovations a lot.”

He’d love to: Make a special drink for Shah Rukh Khan. “But for that I also need to know his tastes!”

Sudeep Das

Senior bartender at Nocturne since 2010

His tipple tale: Sudeep began in Ivory at 22 Camac Street in 2007 armed with a degree from NIPS, a hotel management institute in Salt Lake. “My father passed away, leaving my mother and me with no support. I knew I had to get a job fast. I always had a passion for mixing drinks. And so I became a bartender,” says the Jamshedpur boy.

Job challenge: “I like to come up with something fresh and unique frequently so that my guests never get bored. Figuring out the mood of the guest also helps in giving them the right kind of drink. It is very important to build a good relationship with the guests, so that you can give them enough reasons to keep coming back to you,” he says.

His USP: “I feel my forte lies in converting bases for shots, like Jagermeister, tequila and rum, into cocktails.”

He’d love to: Innovate and “take bartending to another level” by trying unconventional mixes.

Dibyendu Chaki

Senior bar captain at Someplace Else since 2010

His tipple tale: Inspired by a flair bartender at a hotel in Agra in 2005, Dibyendu decided to plunge into bartending. “I started at ITC Sonar. I realised mixology is an art and a fun job too if you are very passionate about it,” says the man who was adjudged the best bartender in April at a competition held in Delhi by Mexico-based liquor company Corralejo.

Job challenge: “You can never make the same drink for two different guests and expect both to be happy with it,” he says. “But that’s the challenge! Guests often return if you can recognise them and remember their preferred drink.”

His USP: Innovation using fresh ingredients. “I just need to know what base is preferred by the guest. Whether it is whisky, rum or gin, I try to make cocktails with only fresh ingredients.”

He’d love to: Replace molecular cocktails with organic ingredients and make them a hit in the city.

Sudipta Munsi

Senior bartender at Nostradamus, ITC Fortune Select Loudon, since 2010

His tipple tale: Sudipta almost became a chef but after studying bartending during his F&B training at NIPS, Salt Lake, changed his mind. “What appealed to me about bartending was that one needs to show his/her skills on a daily basis, have good guest relations and solve day-to-day problems,” he says.

Job challenge: “Once a guest from Finland visited my bar. He was a big vodka lover and would not try anything else. I made him a non-vodka alcoholic drink and challenged him to recognise the base. I first made him a Bourbon Whiskey-based drink, sweet and sour in taste, flavoured with bacon fat and rosemary. He got confused and certainly could not recognise the drink and only ended up tipping me with a lot of euros!” says Sudipta.

His USP: Adding character to his drinks with “innovative garnishes”.

He’d love to: Make a nice fruity Sangria (a red wine-based cocktail infused with fruits like apple, grapes, oranges) for Ravi Shastri because “he loves red wine and is very choosy with his drinks”.

Atanu Ghosh

Senior bar team leader at Underground since 2006

His tipple tale: A graduate from NIPS, Salt Lake, Atanu “always had a great passion for bartending as it has a charm of its own”. He joined Tantra in 2002 and never looked back. “Meeting different people, getting to know them on a personal level, serving them their favourite drinks... it all has an unmatched satisfaction. You get to know people, they often talk profoundly when they get drunk, which shows their other side,” he says.

Job challenge: “It is very important to have patience with the guests. As a bartender, I have to make sure that I serve them with a smile and stop when they get too high,” says Atanu, who rues the restricted party timings. “There was a time when the bar used to remain open till 4am. I miss those days.”

His USP: His friendly nature. And “love for making shooters and mixing different fruity flavours”.

He’d love to: Make a Bacardi-based drink for Salman Khan.

Imran Khan

Bar superviser at Park Plaza

His tipple tale: He started out as a back-bar helper at The Oberoi Grand. “I realised I needed to do a proper course if I wanted to master the art of mixing. I did not even know the basic difference between a whisky and a beer bottle back then!” says Imran, who got interested in bartending when a friend got work as one on a cruise liner. “I found the lifestyle glamorous, so I finally did a six-month course and then joined Soho, moved to Tantra and then to Park Plaza.”

Job challenge: Learning on the job. “From experience, I have learnt that men like their drinks hard and strong (think Whiskey Sour), while girls like drinks like rum and sugar syrup. It took me a while to realise that the more they drink it with sugar, the more high they get. But we also need to act responsibly and see to it that girls, especially first-time drinkers, do not get too drunk.”

His USP: Shot injections. “The shots are injected into the mouth. It’s become a hit among the party crowd!”

He’d love to: Make a frozen cocktail for Katrina Kaif because “it would suit her personality!”

Swati Tewari

Pictures: Rashbehari Das

Who’s your fave bartender in Calcutta? Tell t2@abp.in