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.
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.