Atish Fernandes is the quintessential Goan, one who likes to ensures that fun is primary in everything he is a part of – fun not just for him but everyone in the mix. This innate hospitality trait has led I’m through an illustrious career in the travel industry and then he went on to open the famous Joseph Bar in Goa, a little hole-in-the-wall drink space that is on everyone’s must-do list. It doesn’t do fancy cocktails, or karaoke nights, it’s just a place that is and allows you to be. And in this simplicity, it is as authentic a Goan experience as one could ever imagine or hope for. We got Atish to answer a few questions for us, something he doesn’t concede to too often. It’s interesting what he shared.
How and why did you decide to dive into beverages?
I’ve always had a curiosity about the friendships and camaraderie that revolve around a great evening of drinks and food and that’s where my interest started.
What do you prefer, straight drinks or cocktails, and why?
I used to be a beer and whiskey guy and now I am leaning towards anything with fruits and flowers in it. I have started to love a well-made cocktail over the last couple years.
Is their one drinks-related no-no that we all should steer clear of?
I’ll stick with conventional wisdom here, beer after whiskey is risky, whiskey after beer, no fear.
And one no-no that you allow yourself to indulge in every now and then? Is this even a legal question. I take the fifth!
What’s the future for bars in India? Is it big chains or local “Joseph” Bars?
I think what guests are looking for is a personal connection. If an establishment is able to give them that special connection it doesn’t matter if it’s a stand alone or a chain. The manager is a crucial player and he has to get that feeling of personalised service right.
Define Joseph Bar in a sentence. What are the future plans for expansion if any?
The Goan version of ‘Cheers’. A safe and friendly place where you can truly be yourself while you meet old friends and make some new ones. We want to, under a separate banner, open a tap room and maybe a restaurant where we reimagine traditional Goan food.
What is your favourite drink at the end of a busy day?
Although this may sound sacrilegious to some, a small pour of a good whisky, single malt preferably, with ice and a splash of club soda.
Any advice for aspiring F&B professionals especially those who wish to open similar local bars such as yours?
Make a connection with your customers. Regulars are to be treated like gold. And remember their drink, that’s even more important than remembering their names.