Minakshi SINGH is the youthful component of the old guard of the beverage industry. Having honed her skills for over 15 years by being at the helm of various top liquor brands in the country, Minakshi has a keen eye for consumer trends and international novelties and a sensibility to connect the two. Her experience as a co-owner of some of India’s top-rated and awarded bar spaces, Sidecar + Cocktail & Dreams Speakeasy, and Cafe Lungta, sets her apart in a world that’s largely dominated by men. She has played a crucial role in defining the places which have gone on to win international acclaim (50 Best Bars lists no less!)
How and why did you decide to dive into beverages?
Well it wasn’t a planned move, I just started bartending to make extra pocket money while doing my Hotel Management from IHM , PUSA. It was while I was behind the bar, that I really started to enjoy it, and actually got really interested in the field!
Straight drinks or cocktails, and why?
Well, depends on the mood and place. If I am travelling , I love to explore and indulge and usually go to good cocktail bars to try out drinks, but If I am home, or at someones home, I prefer straight drinks! It is all about enjoying the moment and the experience and not so much about the method behind it.
Is their one drinks-related no-no that we all should steer clear of?
I stay far far away from pretentious servers and bartenders . It can be a very big put off for guests, and other colleagues alike, and it is important to be humble and stay grounded.
And one no-no that you allow yourself to indulge in every now and then?
Ha! I do overanalyse my bar experiences at times, and sometimes forget that in the end its about having a great time. So as bar owners we need to not be on the job at all times, and when off work, we should switch off too!
What’s the future for bars in India? Is it big chains or local bars?
That’s a loaded question! Well I hope that more and more local bars, run by Bartenders crop up. And I feel it will happen, though its a much tougher ask in India, given the bureaucracy, and the costs involved. Its a much slower pace here for us, and it will get there.
Define sustainability for you at Sidecar.
We take it quite seriously, and it has been part of our mission statement from day 1. We have undertaken many trainings, sessions, and external community talks on it as well. For us its a journey, and we set small goals for ourselves and move from there. We started with many hurdles 2 years ago, and I am happy to say, we are now doing a lot more than earlier, right from packaging, to recycling bottles, to a highly seasonal cocktail menus. As of now I am focussing on growing our own herbs , composting, water recycling among many many small steps. I realised that it can be overwhelming, and cant be achieved with a magic wand, but if you have it in your own KRA’s somewhere it trickles down, and your entire team shows up for it.
What is your favourite drink at the end of a busy day?
A nice glass of whisky with a splash of water and some Miles Davis for company.
Any advice for aspiring F&B professionals especially women who remain conspicuously outnumbered even in 2020?
Keep yourself focused, and don’t get daunted by the scenario. Also, get your basics in place, if its skill building, or training, invest time and effort into that. While the times are hard, utilise in upskilling. There are enough and more reading material, as well as courses now available online. Also, if you feel dazed or lost, do reach out to the seasoned F&B professionals directly. It is now very easy to connect to your fav bartender or brand ambassador if you need to! And this advice is not gender specific, so if you are a woman, follow the same steps!