In the past couple of years, bartending has turned into one of the coolest professions to pursue in India and bartenders have become like mini celebrities, who get to interact with hundreds of new faces on a daily basis.
As we raised a toast to celebrate World Bartender Day 2023 (on February 24), head bartenders working at five buzzing bars in Kolkata shared a cocktail recipe each alongside some food for thought.
Amardeep Sinha (The Salt House)
Amardeep Sinha (The Salt House); a glass of ZinGin (right)Nitin Waghela
Passing on a life lesson to young bartenders, Amardeep Sinha, head bartender at The Salt House, a restaurant on Shakespeare Sarani known for its handcrafted cocktails, said, “A bar is a place where chances of a pilferage are at its highest. Here, one needs to be honest to themselves and their bar, which also is one of the biggest reasons for repeat orders and loyal customers.”
On the spur of the moment, Sinha had crafted the ZinGin cocktail for the owners of Salt House, Prachi Saraogi and Saloni Jhunjhunwala, who were looking to be surprised by their head barman. The drink keeps you refreshed and high in equal measurements.
Glass: Red wine glass
- 30ml gin
- 60ml Zinfandel rose
- 15ml Lemon juice
- 15ml Thyme syrup
- Rose petal block ice (or regular ice cubes)
- A stem of fresh thyme for garnishing
Add rose petal block ice in a wine glass. Pour 15ml of lemon juice. Pour 15ml of thyme syrup. Mix it well. Then pour 30ml gin (of your choice). Pour 60ml Zinfandel rose. Give a gentle stir for 10 seconds. Add fresh thyme stem. Let the fun be-gin!
Pabitra Das (Roots)
Pabitra Das (Roots); a glass of Gondhoraj Jalapeno Margarita (right)Nitin Waghela
Pabitra Das, the first head barman at Roots, a gigantic night-club with spectacular cocktails, located at the Exide crossing, is reminded of a time where a customer found a unique way to get his attention. “When I was still working at Shisha Bar Stock Exchange, a regular customer feeling neglected made up an arrow using different coloured straws that pointed towards him!”
Gondhoraj Jalapeno Margarita
While you breathe in this drink, the heady aroma of this hard shaken cocktail slowly floats down your throat, and this is how you would have added another vodka-based cocktail to your drinks-to-recommend list.
- 30ml Vodka
- 30ml Tequila
- 30ml Lime juice
- 15ml Triple sec syrup
- Lime chunks
- Mint leaves
- Basil leaves
- Kaffir lime leaves
- Chaat masala
- Gondhoraj lime
- Lime slice for garnishing
Take a shaker. Pour vodka. Pour tequila. Pour lime juice and triple sec syrup. Add lime chunks. Put mint, basil, and kaffir lime leaves. Add jalapeno. Add salt and chaat masala. Muddle it slightly. Squeeze Gondhoraj lime. Add ice and hard shake. Fine strain it into a glass rimmed with salt.
Pooja Dey (Trapeze)
Pooja Dey (Trapeze); The Berried Blush (right)Nitin Waghela
Sharing a tip for girls looking to get into bartending, Pooja Dey, head bartender at Trapeze on Russell Street, says, “Keeping calm, being level-headed and also knowing when to stand up for yourself will go a long way and is a quality always appreciated by the management.”
The Berried Blush
“At the launch party of Hoichoi, a Bengali film-director was looking for a fresh take on a whiskey-based cocktail. That’s how The Berried Blush was born,” says Dey. This shaken cocktail leaves you with a light buzz and a tendency to reorder it.
Glass: Old Fashioned
- 60ml Whiskey (Black & White / Jim Beam / Teacher’s Highland)
- Blackberry - 2 noz
- Kaffir lime chunks - 2 noz
- 15ml Litchi juice
- 15ml Orange juice
- 10ml Lime juice
- 10ml Simple syrup
- An orange peel cut leaf-style for garnishing
Chill an old fashioned glass. Take a cocktail shaker, put in 2 black berries and muddle. Add 2 chunks of Kaffir lime and muddle it to enhance flavour. Pour orange and litchi juice, lime juice and simple syrup. Pour whiskey and put in the ice cubes and shake for at least one minute. Double strain and pour the cocktail into the chilled glass. Serve it with a block of ice (optional). Garnish with an orange peel leaf… the drink is ready!
Ripon Biswas (Raasta)
Ripon Biswas (Raasta); a glass of Ginto (right)Nitin Waghela
Head bartender at the popular chill spot on Park Street, Raasta, Ripon Biswas, says, “The most fascinating bit about our lives is that we wake up everyday with a call to innovate and an intention to surprise both ourselves and the new faces in front of us.”
GintoExperience the ultimate autumn delight that will indulge all your senses. This fabulous drink promises to put you in a great headspace.
Glass: Gin Goblet
- 60ml Gin (brands like Bombay Sapphire, Tanqueray, Jaisalmer, Hapusa)
- Lemon grass 1 stick
- 10ml Passion fruit syrup
- 15ml Lemon juice
- 10ml Sugar syrup
- Tonic Water
- 1-2 Lemon slices and orange slices for garnish
Take a shaker. Add all ingredients, excluding the tonic water. Shake well. Strain it into the glass and top up with Tonic Water. Cheers!
Anwit Sarkar (Toy Room)
Anwit Sarkar (Toy Room); a glass of Frank’s Love (right)Nitin Waghela
The flaring head bartender at Kolkata’s high-energy nightclub Toy Room on Camac Street, Anwit Sarkar, reminisces a time when his presence of mind was tested. “Once a customer approached the bar, looking for an Indian twist to any cocktail. Post which, I created Panarasi, a paan-flavoured gin-based cocktail with hints of gulkand, and betel leaves. Both of these ingredients were lying in front of me back then, so I put them to use.”
The signature cocktail at Toy Room called Frank’s Love is a mood enhancer and must be taken only when you want to put the seal of good times on your back.
Glass: Imperial wave wine glass
- 60ml Elderflower infused vodka
- 30ml Fresh blueberry puree
- Fresh lime chunks 4-5 nos
- 15ml Fresh lime juice
- Kaffir lime slice and kaffir lime leaf to garnish
Muddle lime chunks in the shaker. Add ice cubes and lime juice. Add blueberry puree. Add the elderflower infused vodka. Shake well and strain into the glass with crushed ice. Top up with soda. Serve immediately