#Shaken&Stirred: A Q&A With Mixologist Arati Mestry

#Shaken&Stirred: A Q&A With Mixologist Arati Mestry
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In an impromptu cocktail competition early on during college days, they were awarded the moniker of the Most Energetic Bartender. Since then, the sassy Arati Mestry has won many accolades. As part of our new series, #Shaken&Stirred, we asked them to spill the beans on their work, inspirations, and also show you how to make a killer cocktail at home.

Piyali Sen
February 14 , 2022
13 Min Read

Arati Mestry got their first job in the a pre-opening team in Planet Hollywood Beach Resort, Goa and then moved to Elephant & Co. Pune which, they say, was a turning point.

Other accolades include being runner-up in the American Whiskey Legacy 2020, winner of the Jameson Barrelmen’ Face-Off 2018 (1st Edition) and national finalist in several competitions like the Campari Bartender Competition Asia 2019 - Top 5, the Monkey Shoulder Ultimate Bartender Championship 2019 - Top 5, and the Beluga Signature Bartender Program 2019 - Top 30.

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Also Read: A Q&A With Bartender Yangdup Lama of Sidecar, the Only Indian Bar in Asia’s Best 50 List

The journey towards being a bartender started with an impromptu cocktail competition in college and with a part-time job at a friend's bar on weekends. "Being passionate about my work, I was recommended for a luxury brand, Theory in Mumbai. Here, I learnt a lot about tinctures and that became my strength," they say. After switching jobs, they took a small break to find a good workplace, and within some time landed a stint with BYG Brewski Brewing Co in Bangalore.

Mestry is currently working with Seven Rivers Brewing Co, Taj Group, as a bar manager. "I used to sit in Crossroads bookstore and read about cocktails and the recipes." The challenges are many, they say, "but they made me what I am today. From knowing the industry to getting known in the industry - it’s a self-made journey."

We had a quick chat about favourite cocktails, secret ingredients, and more. 

 
 
 
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Which is your favourite cocktail, and why?

 Negroni - equal part of gin, sweet vermouth and Campari(bitter). 

It defines me as a character. It’s both sophisticated yet simple. It has challenging complex flavour. It’s a bitter drink you need to acquire a taste to enjoy it. You can’t be bitter and expect your life to be sweet, Unless you are a Negroni.”

What is your favourite book on cocktails?

Cocktail Codex by Alex Day, Nick Fauchald, David Kaplan, and Devon Tarby. And Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart. 

A cocktail recipe for our readers (which can be made at home)?

Here's an easy to make cocktail… and also you don’t have to buy or create something extra. 

White spirit - 60 ml

Yogurt - 30 ml (blend it with berries that you have at home or any berry preserve)

Lime juice - 10 ml

And pink peppercorns - a pinch

Shake well. And strain it in a Coupe Garnish with crushed pink peppercorns. 

For people who love to have whiskey

Whiskey - 60 ml

Jaggery tea syurp - 30 ml (boil the jaggery with the black tea and reduce it to get the syrup consistency)

Coffee (espresso) - 30 ml

Shake well. Serve in an old fashioned.

Also Read:  A Q&A With Bartender Feruzan Bilimoria

Some secrets of the trade or any whispered bits that are sacred in the barternders' community?

Bartenders, like everyone else, hate drunk people. In a busy bar, if you think you shout and ask you’ll get a drink, you are wrong.  Be patient and keep an eye contact you will get your drink faster than you think. Never ask for a bartender to make a drink stronger. It just spoils your drink.  

Serving responsibly is also a huge part of bartending - how do you deal with that? 

Definitely it’s a huge part - but when it comes to people, we have to play it tactfully. Seeing if someone is a little over and above the limit, trying to make them talk, and diverting attention from the alcohol. You can’t tell someone directly you are drunk - it’s offensive. Give them a glass of water, and tell them "I don’t want you to get a hangover tomorrow". It works. 

 
 
 
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What are your secret mixes that you reserve for very special occasions? 

A pre-batched cocktail is always a trump card on special occasions. A batch of red meat smoked negroni is my trump card with a small bite to eat along with it. 

What do you prefer drinking to unwind? 

When I am unwinding alone I prefer a whisky (Monkey Shoulder/ blended Scotch/ single malt) on the rocks. If I am with people, I sip on gin and tonic 1:1.

Any travel-related local ingredients that have inspired your signature drinks?

Raw mangoes grown in the premises of the place I used to work with had inspired me to make my cocktail - The Soup. Other than that, spices, cocoa nibs, coffee and dried rose petals inspire me. I had got my hands on some lavender from the Himalayas via a friend - I am still using it to make essences.

Also Read: A Q&A With Bartender Cindy Lalramngaihzuali 

And the most bizarre ingredient that you’ve used (or seen being used) in a cocktail?

When someone had asked for a gin and tonic, with some chilli flakes inside the drink.


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