The Bar Masters Academy initiated by Pernod Ricard India a global co-leader in wines and spirits and executed by Tulleeho; has become a force to reckon with in the Indian bartending world. An annual program where 30 bartenders from finest establishments of selected cities are invited to undergo a rigorous classroom and practical training from experts in bartending and convivial skills is an awaited affair. After Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore in 2011; it has been extended to Chennai and Kolkata in its 3rd edition. 2 ½ days of training with yearlong engagement to make bartenders true “Barmasters” is the motto of the program.
This year I landed up in the court of ace mixologist Ben Reed only to be welcomed with a shot of Malibu not as a gesture but as a penalty for my phone ringing in the midst of an intense session, do you think I minded it, Hic! After glorious finishes in Delhi and Kolkata, Ben along with Rohan Jelkie the Training chief at Tulleeho and soft skill trainer Ravi Valecha were all set to “on the rock” Mumbai.
Ben who has multiple best-selling cocktail books to his credit was all set to mesmerize the audience by creating a theoretical base first followed by a tasting and hands on cocktail mixing for every participant. It was Vodka, Gin and Rum on day one, Liqueurs and Cognac on the second and whisky and champagne on the final day. The masters tasted brands namely Absolut, Beefeater, Havana, Jameson, Chivas Regal, Ballantines, Glenlivet, Martell, Malibu, Kahlua, G H Mumm all stars from the Pernod stable……and the super star being Absolut Elyx the super premium vodka made of 100% wheat. He also demonstrated specially concocted cocktails from the base spirits.
Ravi took the participants through concepts like “service”, “customer delight”, “body language” , “moments of truth” etc. The motive to introduce this module was to stress on the importance of giving a customer what he/she wants rather than what the bartender wants to! Dita Von Teese, famed actress once said “You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches” likewise one might be the best cocktail bartender in the world, but there would be a lot of people who would still prefer it straight up!
Finally for the trending topic in this part of the world “Molecular Mixology”, Rohan Jelkie took over. “Molecular gastronomy” was a term coined in 1992 by two European researchers and then went on to be popularized by Ferran Adria of the El Buli fame. Mixology taking cues from the gastronomy is about creating different textures and forms of ingredients to constitute into a cocktail using food grade chemicals like Algin, calcium chloride, Xanthan Gum, lecithin etc. Spherification, foam, infusions, deconstruction, fatwashing etc are some names hinting molecular. Rohan engaged the participants while making Malibu Pearls, Kahlua caviar, tea infused Beefeater and deconstructed Absolut Cosmo and Havana Club Pinacolada. Eating cocktails is fun!
Two more cities; Bengaluru and Chennai to shake-up for the ‘Bar Masters’ team and bring this edition to a grander end. Such continuous and structured learning is truly the call of the industry to churn out true “Bar Masters”