The silent of all spirits is a cocktail favourite. Or so thinks Delhi-based mixologist Yangdup Lama. “Vodka is originally colourless,odourless and tasteless. But recently,an array of flavoured vodkas has hit the market – it’s a refreshing change,” he adds. He may be in a promotional mood; after all,he worked with United Spirits Limited to develop dual flavoured vodkas for Vladivar which launched in Pune on Saturday. But he is a creative person and soon veers from hot selling a product to working on ideas. At the moment,think: tangy orange and pepper; green apple and mint; and lemon and mint. At Curve,ABC Farms,Koregaon Park,he pleased the crowd with his concoctions and shared some tricks of his trade.
In Delhi,Lama runs Cocktails & Dreams,a school of bar and beverage management. “When I started,16 years ago,there was no scope to take up bartending as a full-fledged career. Today,the industry has grown. There are so many opportunities,” he says. Hailing from Darjeeling,he completed his hotel management from Kolkata and joined Hyatt Regency,New Delhi,as a bar captain. “I became a bartender and mixologist quite by accident,” he reveals. Quite unlike the young boys and girls who come to his school to train. “Just recently,we had a call from a girl practising medicine but wants to learn how to bartend. But,I’ve noticed that very few of the girls actually take it forward as a career because of the ‘safety’ factor,” he says.
A mixologist’s creativity can be quite heady. In India,the flavours are directly related to the cuisines served. “Take the classic Bloody Mary,for example. In the West,the recipe will say a dash of Tabasco. In Delhi,it would read as ‘lots’ of Tabasco!” he says,not concealing his smile. “Bartending is an amalgamation of creativity and people’s skills. Your conversations with customers have to be witty. Take into account the sensitivity and sensibility of the product you’re serving,” he says. Moreover,it’s not all fun and flair,he points out. “It’s a big responsibility to serve drinks to people. You have to be able to say ‘no’ if someone’s crossed the alcohol limit line,and that too in a way that doesn’t offend the person,” he says.
Next on the cards for this passionate mixologist is a book titled Cocktails & Dreams. He’s worked with a friend,Gitanjali,who he describes as a “cocktail freak”,to churn out 50 recipes. “Twenty are international classics while 30 are signature recipes by us,” he says. Cheers.