The cocktail culture in India is under going a revolution, while we are witnessing the changing times with the constant breakthroughs in the dominated stereotypes, we also cannot forget the female veterans of the Indian bar community (to name a few) Shatbhi Basu, Ami Behram Shroff, Priyanka Kandelkar, Jenika Sapam, Vibhuti Angane and Dhanashree Kirdat Punekar, who have paved a way for all the women to pursue bartending not just as a passion but also as a full fledged career.
Here is a list of 25 Indian female bartenders (alphabetic order) making us proud everyday battling against the omnipresent societal norms and stereotypes, you will find these talented women behind shaking and stirring behind bars in India!
1. Aashi Bhatnagar
Being confused about career, changing it couple of times and then landing to the bar, where “I felt alive”, says Aashi, who never thought about pursuing bartending professionally.
Stepped out of a Fashion Designing course, Aashi joined Hotel Management thinking to find the best way for her in life from Kukreja Institute Hotel Management, Dehradun.
It was only when Kuldeep, Founder of Bar Academy of Doon visited her college, she got so fascinated with the opportunities behind the bar and decided to become a ‘bartender’.
She joined Bar Academy of Doon for a professional mixology course and came to New Delhi to fulfil her dreams. Her first job was in Piano Man but due to the male domination behind the bar, she never really got a chance to polish her skills or even to showcase it well.
Due to the support from the bar community, Aashi got guidance from her mentors Kuldeep Singh, Jeet Rana and Akhilesh Sheoran.
Find Aashi happily shaking and stirring cocktails at The Kimono Club as a bartender!
2. Agnieszka Rozenska
Popularly known as Agni, to her family and colleagues, she has traversed the globe, working with several cafes and bars honing her skills as a wizard behind the bar.
Agni’s career span has taken her to brands like Hilton, Brama Jazz Café, and Octans – The Spirited Bar, Andaz Amsterdam and Grand Hyatt Mumbai. Passionate about discovering new cultures, flavours, people and destinations, Agni has hopped around Europe – from Poland to The Netherlands, Luxembourg amongst other countries.
A master of balance and technique when making the perfect cocktail, and considers research, and developing new cocktails and quality control an essential part of her job. She likes playing with local flavours and spirits, and makes sure to involve her local bar teams in the mixology process.
The winner of Inaugural Remy Martin Bartender Talent Academy, Agni will represented India in the global finals of the Remy Martin Bartender Talent Academy and competed with 10 representatives from all over the world at Cognac, France.
Currently, working as the Head Bartender at The Hong Kong Club, Andaz Delhi.
3. Alisha Castelino
She started her career at the age of 23 in a five star hotel, where she felt trapped in a monotonous circle of odd jobs and tireless working hours which made her choose to step out of the rigid structure and work in a stand alone restaurant instead.
She joined the Bombay canteen as a pre opening staff. “I was so passionate about everything that I wanted to do and learn everything possible. I started off as a hostess, went on to become a floor captain, until I found my real passion, bartending.”
Alisha has not done any professional bartending course but claims to have just learnt by watching & learning from her mentor Rahul Raghav, the Bar Manager of The Bombay Canteen and O Pedro.
She worked at The Bombay Canteen and O Pedro for two years respectively.
Her zeal towards bartending and her handwork got her into the finals of American Whiskey Legacy Competition and she was awarded as the Second Runner Up of Brown Forman’s American Whiskey Legacy 2019.
Currently, she has permanently shifted to Dubai and is working at the Bahri bar, Madinat Jumeriah.
4. Arati Mestry
Born and brought up in Mumbai, she started her career with Pizza Hut but soon realised that studying Hospitality and Management is important and took admission in Institute of Technology and Management (ITM – IHTM).
With a mentor/faculty in college and winning an internal bartending college, she got more driven to beverages.
Arati spent maximum time reading bartending books & doing a part time job at a friends bar on weekends from which she learn a lot about the operation handling of a bar as well.
She got her first job inthe pre opening team in Planet Hollywood Beach Resort, Goa and then moved to Elephant & Co., Pune which was the turning point in her life. They gave her an opportunity to introduce her own cocktails.
After switching jobs, she took a small break to find the best place & within sometime she landed to Bengaluru.
From then to now, Arati is one popular face in the famous BYG BREWSKI BREWING CO., Bengaluru working as a Bar Executive.
Find her at BYG Brewski Brewing Co. in Bengaluru making some of her favourite kickass Negronis!
5. Cindy Lalramngaihzuali
Cindy has been a part of the hospitality industry for about 5 years now. After completing her diploma in front office, she started her first job as a receptionist in RedFox Hotel, Aerocity. Post that, she worked with Parikrama, then Ek Bar as a floor staff, and that is where she got attracted towards bartending.
It was her interest in wines & spirits that led her to bartending. And she pursued a professional bartending course from Basic which is now known as The Tab House. Her first job as a Bar Back was in Piso 16 Perch Wine & Coffee Bar, Vasant Vihar. After which she joined Perch as its first lady bartender.
Learning from the best for a year now at Perch Wine & Coffee Bar, New Delhi, Cindy is one of the most chirpiest bartenders with excellent craft skills. Known for her concoctions at Mr Hoots (by Perch Wine & Coffee Bar).
Though as simple it may sound, she recalls her journey to be quite wavy. She has worked very hard to make her presence count behind the bar. She is truly inspired by a few people such as Amanda a.k.a Bad Birdy ,Los Angeles, CA. Cindy truly learnt from her nearly rags to riches story and is extremely hopeful that one day she gets in life where Amanda is right now.
Competing in the male dominated space, you can find Cindy participating in several cocktail competitions and showcasing her crazy cocktail moves with tons of cocktail critter pins at Mr Hoots, New Delhi.
6. Debjani Rudra
Originally from Kolkata, Debjani fought against the wishes of her family and pursued her love of bartending. After completing Hotel Management from IHM, Gangtok, she started her career as a bar trainee with The Park, Goa.
Further exploring her interest in bartending, she came to New Delhi to pursue a vocational training in the bar at Surajkund Vivanta by Taj. After her training, she joined Novotel Hotel’s QUOIN as an Associate Bartender and worked there for a year. https://www.instagram.com/theminderser/
Recently, she joined Grappa and is working as a Bartender.
Debjani is an upcoming female bartender icon – her cocktails & bar moves are on fire! She participated in Bacardi Legacy 2020 and plans to showcase her craft cocktail skills through many more cocktail competitions.
7. Devyani Nath
Currently working as a bartender at Four Seasons Hotel, Bengaluru, Devyani says, “Cocktails come and go, but an experience remains forever, as memory.”
She started her journey in Food & Beverage service right after hotel school, and discovered her passion for bartending early on. She laid the foundation of her career as an Industrial Trainee of The Oberoi Group, then to The Ritz- Carlton, Bangalore stationed at BANG, the rooftop bar.
She joined Four Seasons in early 2019 to be part of the Copitas team. After this project on the hotel’s showcase Level 21 was delayed, she was stationed at CUR8, the hotel’s All Day Dining restaurant. There, she saw a great opportunity to showcase her bartending talent at the brunch on Sundays.
Using fresh ingredients like berries, lemons, oranges, and a few simple ingredients, she managed to win many fans and followers during Sunday Superlunch.
For her, it’s all about the experience of creating magic with a few simple ingredients and her spirit of choice- gin. Her earnest passion is clearly visible when she says, “I absolutely love the nuanced character of gin. The botanicals present are the real magic elements. A few simple add ons… maybe even a simple raspberry relish from the kitchen… and you have pure gold! What else is this but pure alchemy?”
8. Disha Mankikar
During her Management trainee tenure, she had undergone several beverage training that gave her a holistic view of what beverage industry was like and got her inclined towards bartending.
Disha completed her Hotel Management from Rizvi College, Mumbai and pursued a professional bartending course from Stir academy by Shatbi Basu. For her industrial training, she was allotted Taj Lands’ End – Mumbai, where she worked with the food and beverage department. In her final year, she choose F&B department and was happy to know all attributes of it.
Disha believes in the positive change happening around and slight change in the patriarchal mindset by many women joining the industry as Brand ambassador, beverage managers, sommeliers, and many more.
Currently, Disha is working as the Manager Beverage and Bars at JW MARRIOTT, Bengaluru.
9. Divya Chawda
During her industrial training, she had a strong inclination towards the bar. Enjoying witnessing behind the bar scenes, she decided on one thing – “I want to make bar experiences more enjoyable & happening for people.”
During her college, she used to hop to bars on weekends to learn more alcohol and cocktails. Her keen interest in bar and spirits, made her attend an educational class conducted by The Bombay Canteen for hospitality students.
She met her mentor, Rahul Raghav during the educational class and requested him for weekend training during her last semester of college. She started her career as a trainee behind the bar at O Pedro.
She credits Rahul Raghav, Bar Manager of The Bombay Canteen and O Pedro for everything she has learnt behind the bar.
It was her mentor, Rahul Raghav who pushed her to participate in first ever cocktail competition, Relearn Natural Belvedere Competition. And she made herself and him proud by winning the 1st runner up city champion.
She worked at O Pedro for two years and recently moved to Maldives and joined The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort.
10. Evgenya Prazdnik
She started bartending 15 years ago in Russia. After 6 years of working behind cocktail bars of Moscow, Evgenya decided to move to Goa where she worked for various night club bars.
Being passionate about bartending, she participated in various cocktail competitions and travelled across India and Middle East to do guest-bartending shifts.
In 2017, she won Diplomatico World Tournament (India) and got a bronze medal in Bols Around the World 2017 in Amsterdam, representing India on the global stage. She has also won the title of The Botanist wild 22 2019 and is soon going to represent India in Scotland of global stage.
Evgenya is working as a beverage consultant for 3 years now. And has managed beverage programs for Gunpowder (Goa) , Mustard ( Mumbai), MezMiz, Karma Kismet, Auro ( Delhi), OmMade cafe and many more.
Currently, operating from Goa, Evgenya has been shaking & stirring cocktails from 15 years now in many countries such as Russia, India, Qatar, Lebanon, Sri Lanka.
11. Feruzan Billimoria
Bartending was never her first choice, she wanted to be a chef but her curiosity towards the subject of alcohol made her pick bartending.
She started her career with freelancing, then switched to a full time job in Romano’s JW Marriott, post that she got into a nightclub bar and now she’s working as the Brand Ambassador of an Indian Gin brand, Stranger & Sons.
It is very difficult to break stereotypes and be upfront about it. And undoubtedly, Feruzan is doing the both. As easy it may seem, her journey has been full of challenges right from working in a male dominant space to people ignoring her mistakes because of her gender.
She admits her being oblivious to the partiality towards women in the initial phase of her career. She took it to be a false sense of security but soon she realised the importance of working in a team as an equal.
Feruzan’s social life took a major backseat starting her career as a bartender. She has openly spoken about it even on her blog, which is a must read for at least every bartender.
Now, being not just a bartender but also a Brand Ambassador adds onto her responsibilities. She has made a mark for herself in the industry with this achievement.
Also, she is conducting and researching on a project dealing with the mental health of Bartenders. She hopes to publish it soon!
12. Gisela Dsouza
She has always been passionate about bartending , studying about alcohol and creating cocktails. After completing her school, she was confident enough to tell her parents it is bartending that she would professionally like to pursue. But all in vain, it took her three years to convince her family. And finally, she pursued a bartending course from Flairology in 2016.
Not just a bartender but also a mixologist trainer and co-founder of Madhushala School of Beverage, Mumbai exclusively for women!
And since then, she has been working as a freelance bartender and has successfully done more than 500 events. She also participated in Bacardi Legacy 2017 and recently completed WSET level 2 in 2018.
Gisela wants to break all the existing taboos and take her bartending academy Madhushala to a level where it sets an example for women to join in the bartending.
With no background, Hotel Management, Imkumzukhla known as ‘Kum’ learnt bartending through the videos of female bartenders like Mia Johansson mad Anna Sebastian. “I watch them shake drinks, I jot it down and when there is no work in the bar that’s when I practice making what I learn from them.”
She started her career as an Assistant in F&B at Quoin, Novotel, New Delhi. She started from the Back area, then to the front greeting guest, then learning how to serve according to the hotel standard, then learning the menu and learning the basics from Seniors when there is not much work.
Soon, she got an opportunity to learn and her showcase her bar moves at the Quoin, Novotel.
She wants to learn more and is soon going to join as a reputed cruise as a bartender and aspires to be a successful female bartender and make her signature cocktail go globally famous.
13. Ishrat Kaur
Hailing from the Delhi-Gurgaon area, Ishrat always had a liking to Food & Beverage, especially cocktails and wine. Hence when it came to choosing her specialty, she decided to go towards beverages.
Ishrat has not really done a bartending course, but she did learn bar basics at The Oberoi School. She started her career in 2010 with the 3-year undergraduate program at The Oberoi, then worked 1 year as a Food & Beverage Assistant post which she spent 2 years at Oberoi Center of Learning and Development.
Then she got posted as Assistant Manager Food & Beverage Service, and eventually joined Pass Code Hospitality to take care of Jamun, Ping’s and PCO.
Recalling the challenges she faced through the years, she says, “The fact that I was a woman in this world, I faced a lot of backlash every time I would try and go behind the bar. Apart from that it was more about trying to make my parents understand that I will get home safe every night.”
But her mentors Nitin Tiwari, Gagan Sharma, and Akanksha Lamba always inspired her to keep doing better. Currently, she is working at PCO and India Cocktail Week, and wishes to own her own homegrown spirit one day.
14. Kamakshi Singta
She chose bartending because meeting people and creating something new for them gives her absolute happiness. She loves to experiment with bar ingredients. She says “Bartending in not a trend it is an emotion.”
Kamakshi has studied Hospitality Management from Chitkara University Rajpura. She discovered her interest in the bar during her industrial training at Shangri-La Al Husn in Oman.
She started her career in bartending as a Bar Executive at Wok In The Clouds, Connaught Place, New Delhi.
She says it was and still is not so easy to convince seniors to let a woman dispense drinks from bar specially, men have always been given priority. Facing such issues, Kamakshi has been heart broken at times but she never gave up on her passion.
Currently, she is working as a bartender at The Wild Flower Hotel, The Oberoi, Shimla. And aspires to be a renowned bartender, or even a Beverage Brand Ambassador in the coming years.
15. Kanchan Fartiyal
Based out of Uttrakhand, she completed a professional degree in Hotel Management from Amrapali Institute and it was during one of her internal college bartending competition that built her interest in bartending.
To follow her passion and create a career out of it, Kanchan came to New Delhi and further pursued a mixology course from Bar Academy and got her first job as a bartender at the Hong Kong Club, Andaz Hotel. Due to her diligence and passion, she got promoted as a Bar Supervisor in a years time.
Last year, she participated and won in the regional finals of Greater Than’s Bar Wars cocktail competition and even went to Bengaluru for the finals.
Currently, working as the Bar Supervisor at The Hong Kong Club, Andaz Hotel, Kanchan is excited to compete in future cocktail competitions.
16. Kavita Medar
Breaking all the possible barriers, Kavita travelled all the way from Karnataka to Pune to pursue her passion of flair bartending.
Right after her graduation, Kavita with absolutely no background in Hotel Management went ahead to follow her passion without the will of her family.
She joined Flair Mania Bartending Academy and Events in Pune and with time became a popular ‘flair bartender’ who runs her own YouTube channel to showcase her flair skills.
Kavita has faced several issues in doing what she does but she never gave up, instead she aspires to become the best female flair star of India and represent the country globally.
17. Khushnaz Ragina
Growing up in a liberal family in Mumbai, she has always been responsible for bartending in her family. However, she never thought of taking bartending professionally instead wanted to become a Psychologist.
When Psychology, didn’t happen to her, she took up a course in Hotel Management without knowing what she wanted to do professionally with it. However, she found her passion seeing a senior juggling a few bottles and later enrolled herself into an inter-college bartending competition and to her surprise, she was the only girl in a crowd of 30 boys.
After winning the competition, Khushnaz took up a part-time job at the nightclub in JW Marriott, Pune as a bartender in her final year of Hotel Management. And then there was no turning back.
It has been six years for Khushnaz in this profession and she has had quite a successful ride. From competing in various bartending competitions to being a bartender to Diageo India’s Brand Ambassador.
She proudly says, “I am still learning, still being inspired and aiming to inspire.”
18. Rachel Fynn
She started her bartending career at the young age of 19. Since childhood, she wanted to do something that was a little different from the others. Studies didn’t interest her much but music and the art of flairing always seemed to fascinate her.
With this passion to be different from the others, she joined Flairology Bar School and Events and got even more inspired by the directors Sachin Gowda and Pankaj Kamble witnessing their immense passion for the art of flair.
She credits her learning & success to them, they have been her guide, mentors and have helped her through thick and thin. It’s been two and a half years, that she’s in the field of flair bartending and the journey has increased her passion and need to do more and get better day by day.
She has participated in many competitions during the past year. She bagged the second position in Tito’s flair challenge 2018 in Goa, DrinkQ Flair Competition 2018.
She was awarded as the best female flair bartender in 2019 at IFBA Competition in Pune and has been featured in the Femina of TOI and representing women empowerment.
Currently, she is working as a flair instructor for Flairology Bar School, Pune.
19. Sarita Sharma
She never thought she will end up working behind the bar, it all started while she was doing her internship at the Oberoi in 2008. “It just excited me looking at the bartender mixing drinks, interacting with guest n meeting new people.”
Born in Himachal but raised in Mumbai, Sarita studied Hotel Management from ITM Kharghar ( institute of technology and management). To pursue bartending professionally was not easy for her but she managed to convince her father despite his claims of ‘bartending industry’ being a male dominated space.
She pursued a mixology course from Flaming Trio in 2008 and started with freelance bartender events with Trio itself and traveled all across the globe for 5 years. Post which she took a break for 5 years from bartending and got involved in her family business in the US.
On her return to India, she got an opportunity to work with the pre opening team of JW Marriott Mumbai Sahar and joined as Bar Supervisor heading team of 9 associates.
Sarita got awarded in 2016 as West zone bar professional SABRE AWARD in Marriott INTERNATIONAL and SABRE AWARD 2017 in luxury hotels as BAR PROFESSIONAL Asia Pacific.
Currently, working as the Bar Supervisor at JW Marriott Mumbai Sahar, Sarita aspires to head Marriott India beverage portfolio in the coming years.
20. Shefali Singh
She started her career with KFC, switched to Pizza Hut and then finally joined Striker Pub & Kitchen as a Guest Relation Executive where she got interested in behind the bar action. Even though she didn’t use to drink back then, she wanted to explore the bar industry.
Shefali’s parents were totally in disagreement with her choice of pursuing bartending but she went against their will to follow her passion. To gain more professional knowledge, she pursued a mixology course from Bartending Academy of India.
After which she officially, started working as a bartender at Batli29, then Westin Hotel, Gurugram and Pra Pra Prank. Under the training of several mentors such as Sanchayan Jana, she started polishing her skill sets and created several popular concoctions.
Shefali was awarded as the Best Female Bartender of the year 2018. And it was only after her success that the relationship with her parents restored.
She has permanently shifted to Bengaluru and is working as the Head Mixologist at Red Rhino Inspired kitchen & Brewery.
21. Simran Singh
She never planned for this career option, it just popped up in her mind and she joined the course to give it a try.
A bartender, beverage teacher and also the co-founder of Madhushala, School of Beverage.
In October 2017, Simran started pursuing bartending Flairology, Mumbai. She completed her course and started working as a Trainee/Intern with Flairology Mumbai and in October 2018, the company hired her as an Associate Trainer.
She fell in love with bartending & teaching young, passionate students.
Recently, she completed WSET Level 2 and still feels there is a lot more to explore in the field of bartending as it is an “art form”, and every bartender struggles to be a perfect artist everyday, carving new creations.
22. Sonam Rai
From a small town in Bihar and with no professional degree in bartending, she started her career as an Assistant bartender from GVK lounge Mumbai International Airport all due to her passion & determination.
Coming from an orthodox family, Sonam faced many challenges to convince her parents to approve of her career. She credits her Bar Manager, Abhinay Patil at GVK Lounge for teaching her everything about bartending.
Sonam participated in Corralejo Margarita Challenge 2019 which was her first competition and was awarded as the ‘Judges Favourite Bartender’.
Currently, Sonam is working as a bartender at Qualia, Mumbai.
23. Trisha Koparde
She wanted to meet and interact with people from all walks of life, have a continuous flow of creativity and when she saw bartenders creating not just drinks but such experiences, her passion grew for it more and made me chose bartending as a profession.
Trisha studied Hotel Management from IHM, Mumbai, also known as, Dadar Catering College. She didn’t do any professional bartending but during her training and internships period, that just got reinforced as I requested to work Front House and at the Bar beyond the designated time.
Right after her graduation, she started working at The Bombay Canteen.
Trisha feels that “the biggest challenge in this industry is that nothing can prepare you for the actual grind of the job. It can take a toll on you, physically and mentally.” For her finding bartenders to relate to, learn from, especially female bartenders was a little difficult as it is still a rare occurrence. In India, Shatbhi Basu is her inspiration for everyone, being the front runner in professional bartending, especially as a woman. Working directly with my mentors Rahul Raghav, Yash Bhanage, Deepak Koranga has helped her shape her skills.
Trisha won The Belvedere Relearn Natural Challenge 2018 for her cocktail, Changemaker.
Currently, Trisha is working as Senior Bartender at The Bombay Canteen, Mumbai.
Still being the new kid, she wants to learn and expand her knowledge and experiences in the next 5 years. Networking with the right people and learning about the market locally as well as globally is what she aims to do!
24. Pavitra Bhandari
She started her journey as a bartender during the time of her graduation in hospitality in Goa. Pavitra mentions “I Shaun Dsouza juggle with those bottles it was like magic and I was so mesmerised that I instantly made up my mind to be a bartender.” She credits Shawn D’souza as her inspiration and mentor in her journey of being a bartender.
Pavitra is a graduate in Hospitality and Tourism with a diploma in Flair Bartending & Mixology. She started her career during her graduation time with a cocktail bar Havana club in Goa. From there, she moved to Grand Hyatt Goa then the Novotel Goa and at last to Ibis Style Goa.
She describes her journey filled with challenges & obstacles. As there is no hotel in Goa, which offers a specific designation as a bartender, she had to work very hard to prove her worth of being a bartender.
She credits Novotel to be the only place which supported her as a bartender and sent her to La Maison Cocktail Competition in Mumbai from which she got some exposure in Novotel and Ibis Styles.
Currently, Pavitra is working as a Bar Manager at Tatki, Goa.
25. Usha Rani
When she joined the industry, she observed that women are every where except for the bar and thats what got her interested into bartending.
To professionally acquire the skill set to become a bartender, she pursued a mixology course from Institute of Bar Operations and Management by Sandeep Verma.
With no experience in Hotel Management, Usha started her career as a Guest Relation Executive for two years at Chatter House, New Delhi.
She credits Sandeep Verma for inspiring her to take up bartending and adds “I was the only female in the entire batch studying bartending & everyone did nothing but boost my morale everyday.
Usha is learning everyday and totally follows our current female bartender stars, Arati Mestry and Cindy.
Currently, she is working as a Bar Trainee at the Olive, Mehrauli.
26. Vasundhara Vats
Hailing from a Journalism background, she started managing a small cafe in Goa and soon decided to take up bartending professionally.
She studied bartending with European Bartending School, Barcelona and has worked with many bars, nightclubs and done several events and pop up bars as a freelancer in Goa.
Vasundhara worked for a year as a Bar Team Leader at Soho House, Mumbai. She enjoys the new world wines, spirits and coffees. She loves the thrill of exploring new ingredients and flavours and being able to express through drinks as a medium.
She was one of the 12 India’s finest bartenders to compete for the title of National winner of the Inaugural REMY MARTIN Bartender Talent Academy.
Currently, Vasundhara is working as a bar consultant based in Goa.
These women have a natural flair for the road-less travelled, a mastery over their skills and know what it takes to be at the top of their craft. The list of female bartenders in India is going to bigger and better ever year, something we are certain of!