After the virtual cocktail festival rounds of India’s most prestigious bartending competition, the country’s best mixologists were evaluated for skill and flair to name Rohan Matmary as the India Winner of Diageo Reserve World Class 2021. The innovative infusions in the cocktail recipes and exceptional skill in liquid storytelling convinced the jury that Rohan’s cocktail originations were extraordinarily fit for the global stage this year.
And thus Rohan began the global competition with the Ketel One Hive Collective Challenge where he worked with mindfully sourced ingredients with Ketel One vodka that impacted people, businesses, and a cause.
The five-day global finals had 55 country champions putting their best foot forward for the competition.
Innovation, creativity, and a sense of community never goes unnoticed in the hospitality industry and this is what set Rohan apart: the pure enjoyment with which he made the four drinks, the entertaining ‘performance’ he put up for the judges, and the uniquely themed recipe for each cocktail.
Rohan, who is Beverage Head for Asia’s 16th Best Bar, Sidecar, and Cocktails & Dreams Speakeasy mounted his storytelling skills, understanding of spirits and bartending techniques to win the Tanqueray No. 10 Alive With Freshness challenge and bringing a Global Award home with so much flair!
We would like to extend the warmest congratulations to him, and furthermore, ask some questions on behalf of all the budding bartenders of the country who are trying to gain some inspiration. Here is what he has to say –
How can bartenders participate in such world class international competitions?
Just keep participating! There can only be one winner, so once you’ve won a couple of competitions don’t try for number one, just participate for fun and let others have fun too.
What criteria to keep in mind to get selected?
Know the rules of the different competition and each exact round. You’ve won 50% of the battle if you give the judges exactly what you want. For example : if someone has asked for a citrus forward server, then do that instead of a Negroni, no matter how good it may be!
What does it take to win the competition?
Dedication towards your drinks, and enough trust in yourself.
A lot of community support for sure, and that can be gained by consistently being humble.
What key experience helped you reach this stage?
I was glad the competition was virtual, because I was already running a YouTube channel called Three Barstools. This gave me a lot of confidence facing the camera, and I was ready to have no questions, no people to motivate me and just do my best by myself.
What do you think of the competition around you?
All 12 of us (world class competitors for India) did a phenomenal job. It is just a matter of time that we see a lot of Indian bartenders coming into global ranking bars and competition platforms. We use the same bartending techniques, our hospitality is top notch, we have access to some great ingredients and we have a lot of consumers to experiment on!
One piece of advice to budding bartenders?
Learn learn learn! No learning is bad : some can be used today, some can be used years later. but keep learning from everyone! Network is all you need! Be humble. Bartending is a very glorious job and if the glory comes to you, keep your head down. This is what will give you a strong network and trust me, network and community is all you need in this industry. You can develop skills and knowledge over time.
One understated bar hack that always works and saves you time/effort?
Pre batching! We generously use this hack at Sidecar and C&D wherein we produce litres of cocktail batches beforehand. A consumer will have fun if he has a drink in his hand. The bar will make money if he has a drink in his hand. It is important to first serve the customer, then do the whole shebang behind the bar. A batched cocktail helps you serve out an order every single minute and this is a big boon for high volume cocktail bars.
How did the Indian bar community/hospitality industry help you through your journey?
They were the most pivotal people! Everyone congratulated me, motivated me, positively answered my questions. All this really matters, and not having a good rapport with the community during this time would have hit back very badly. I can’t dream of what will happen if I lose my industry.
What comes next? How do you upscale from this?
This year is going to be about my journey through world class. I really want to partner with Diageo Bar Academy and mentor bartenders for world class competitions in the coming years. I believe with my experience I can start with one of my long awaited dreams to really give back to the community! The idea is to get India onto the global cocktail scene next to countries like Hong Kong or the UK.
What is your view on the current up and coming bar community of India?
I think the bars coming up are phenomenal! Every bar has a different approach and I’m glad bartenders are being given chances to be a partner or director and manage their entire space.
The day Rohan brought this prestigious award back home, we went to Sidecar to congratulate him. I saw him running around the bar fixing drinks and making his customers happy, reflecting the same humility he emphasised on in his answers.
Cheers Rohan, for making us all proud!