How does a bartender become successful? Renowned mixologist Ondrej Pospichal says it has more to do with one’s personality than just the ability to mix potent drinks, underscoring the popular dictum among bartenders which is: ‘You are not creating drinks, you are serving people.’ “A good bartender is judged by the way he conducts himself behind the bar, on how he strikes a chord with his customer, on how he understands his pulse. Making fine drinks, I would say, is secondary,” he maintains. Visiting Bangalore as part of Grey Goose – Beyond the Bar programme, the master mixologist interacted with bartenders from different hotels in the city, teaching them not only how to concoct world-class cocktails, but also how to stand out in their profession.
The first thing that strikes him about the city is the enthusiasm and passion among the bartenders. He says, “The lot here is very gung-ho about their profession. And that is what is required. You have to love your job if you have to be good at it.” He adds that they were brimming with innovative concepts and ideas, which is sure to help them in their career.
Though well-travelled and having mastered his craft in some of the world’s most prominent bars, tailoring the programme to meet local requirements was very crucial to him, he recalls. When he first landed in India, he roamed the streets of New Delhi, soaking in the sights, sounds and smells of the place. Upon visiting Dilli Haat, he found an array of ingredients on sale there, some very unique to the Indian subcontinent. And inspired by this, he created his first signature drink in India, ‘New Dilli’ with a mix of local flavours — apple, celery, lemon and others.
His ‘Signature 7’, whipped up specially for the programme, also includes a blend of locally available ingredients like Ginger, Fenugreek, Coriander, Sea Salt, Coffee, and a variety of fresh herbs and spices, to make it truly India-inspired. “It was very important for me to bring a bit of Indianness to the whole initiative. Of course, I could have taught something from London. But I did not want to do that,” he says.
This head bartender of one of London’s most influential bars, MASH, doesn’t consider himself a molecular mixologist, given that his art of mixology includes non-esoteric techniques and fun, adventurous cocktails. So what’s his favourite trick to make the perfect drink? “Keep it simple,” he responds promptly, “Infuse layers of flavour and pay attention to the texture rather than the complexity and techniques of making a drink.“
First published in The New Indian Express on October 6, 2014