Conversations with IWBS – Khushnaz Raghina

Khushnaz Raghina, Brand Ambassador, Diageo India


I am a Malt Advocate, beverage trainer, consultant, whisky lover, story teller, cocktail enthusiast!!

Khushnaz boasts 9 years of work experience in the Hospitality Industry, including stints with the JW Marriott Pune, Trident Hotel Mumbai and Gurgaon and her fifth year as Diageo’s Reserve Brand Ambassador.

“I’ve had the pleasure to work with some of the finest personalities in the Food & Beverage Industry in India and overseas and competed in various Bartending Competitions over the years.”

When not talking all things eau de vie, you will probably find her wandering streets and local markets in search of unique flavours, ingredients or even shaking a leg (and a shaker) at the nearest watering hole.

Who and what inspired you to take upon this journey of mixology?

Like most, I entered this profession with the fascination to flair. I was studying hotel management and trying to figure out what to do next. Hotel management was plan B and plan A was to pursue psychology. Hospitality came very naturally to me, one thing I enjoyed growing up was being a good host and serving people. I realised that adding a flair to what you do could change the way people perceive service.

I learned a couple of moves from my seniors in college and on the last day of industrial training I was allowed to play in the bar! Post my shift I was offered a job in JW Marriott hotel. I was thrilled and there was no looking back.

What’s been the highest point in your career so far? Maybe share a low point too and how did you get past it? 

Every new opportunity that threw me off my comfort zone was the highest point in my career. I learnt how to face them, embrace them and master them. I love challenging myself. I see every low point as an opportunity. If you are passionate enough to pursue your goals you’ll find the way.

What’s that one serious cocktail no-no that makes you cringe? And one cocktail no-no that you allow yourself to indulge in now and then?

Smoky Cokey Cocktail

Big no-no is using any technique or ingredient without proper or sufficient knowledge. Just because they are in trend or fashion, if you do not have any technical information, avoid using it.

I’m a strong believer that there is no wrong way to enjoy a drink of your choice. What is in your glass is no one else’s business. I occasionally like to indulge in a ‘Smoky Cokey‘. Lagavulin 16, topped up with Coke with lots of ice and aromatic bitters with a little twist of citrus. It was something I frowned upon until I tasted it. It tastes like a monsoon barbecue party which many think is a crazy idea but it is pleasant, breezy and fun!

We know of your love for Pineapples. What’s your favourite mix with it that we can concoct at home tonight?

The pineapple is a vibe! With such a rich history and being considered the universal sign of hospitality. It is so versatile that I don’t think there’s a single ingredient or a category of spirit that does not pair well with it.

I’ll recommend a Pineapple Highball with Johnnie Walker Black Label, a sweet spiced homemade pineapple cordial, topped up with carbonated water and fresh mint. Simple yet delightful!

What’s your favourite tipple at the end of a busy day?  

Ketel One Mule

Conversations with close family and friends with tall delicious Highballs. Like Tanqueray and Tonic or a Ketel One Mule with seasonal flavours would be my pick! However, at a bar, maybe the bartender’s special with few inside jokes can work.

What is your advice to young professionals seeking a career in this field

‘You have the power to make a difference one drink at a time’

Have the passion and invest in your knowledge, be respectful to everyone. Be able to take constructive criticism. Competitions are also the best way to learn , so be inquisitive. Ask questions and don’t be blind followers. Be proud of what you do and have fun!

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