Nitin Tewari aka Mr. BarTrender is undoubtedly India’s favourite mixologist. As one of the leading lights in some of the popular cocktail bars in New Delhi, Nitin has worked with some of India’s most highly recognised bars and restaurants and consulted for setups across the globe. Nitin was also the brain behind the bespoke cocktails at prestigious events like the IIFA Awards, Grey Goose Style Du Jour, Vogue Fly Beyond Awards, and the Bacardi NH7 Weekender to name a few.
Tell us about your journey from IHM Chandigarh to Cannes?
Well, this is actually long but to make it short, my aim was always to get behind the bar and make new trends so I did – right out of IHM – to the Capital’s most well known bars. I then wanted to learn more, study more so I headed to Australia to pursue a Masters’ while also working for experience. When I realised my calling was to come back to India, I joined Bacardi India as Trade Ambassador. It was an incredible experience; travelling the world, setting up BNH7 Weekender and the like but I still yearned to do more. With that in mind I moved on to start my very own consultancy, #bartrender, to set new trends in Indian Bars hoping to bring them up to speed with bars internationally. Continuing this streak of consultancies I also kept working on projects with Bacardi brands like Grey Goose, Bombay Sapphire & Dewar’s via whom I revisited France for Cannes Film Festival. Currently I run my own Restaurant & bar in partnership that is Together At 12th, a freestyle restaurant, bar & terrace on the 12th floor of the Le Meridien Gurgaon.
Apart from mastering mixology, what other things do you like to do?
If it’s not obvious enough, food! 😀 I love eating and finding new places to eat at but apart from that I’m a story teller and love to dress my cocktails with a good story and styling. I also play an amateur hand at photography.. with my drinks of course 😉 check out my instagram handle @mr.bartrender for some.
What is the most uniquely style bar you have come across?
That’s a tough one! I never have favourites for anything really. For me I always believe every bar is unique or has something unique to offer. It may be a busy nightclub with a bartender acing his game with dispense or a members only bar where a perfect Old Fashioned is being served or a beachside shack serving a pina colada. It could also be the philosophy by which they run their bars- a no menu bar, a sustainable bar or a bar with no ice.I see and appreciate every bar I go to. I also believe it’s the people behind a bar that make the experience because the welcoming aura of a place is by its people.
You are hiking across hills in Himachal with a bottle of your favourite spirit, is there any instant cocktail you fix with ingredients around you?
That’s actually quite close to hitting it home; I am from Uttarakhand and on my last travel there I actually explored the region more and at a quaint little Chandimati cafe I came across wonderful local produce that I collected for my cocktails. The hills are covered in Chamomile and Nettle, the valleys full of apple and peach orchards. So with a drive of just one stretch I gathered these ingredients solely for experimentative cocktails which i did of course and I also brought back dried versions to use all year round. Cocktail name : Chandimati that had gin infused with chamomile nettle tea with peach cordial, lime juice, apple juice – shaken with ice – in a coupe garnished with dehydrated lime
Is there any cocktail in your restaurant’s menu that can make even non cocktail lovers fall in love with the drink? Tell us about it
There are quite a few actually that have converted people. With every menu we introduce we make sure that we divide our signature cocktails according to complexity levels to cover for teetotallers all the way to well seasoned palettes. With our first Memories menu, Travel, Coffee Break & First Drink I had were the popular ones to one and all. Coffee break as the name suggests is a cold brew based drink; Travel is a tea based cocktail and First Drink I had was a beer based cocktail. With the next menu which was A Tale of 12 Cities – based on preservation techniques – cocktails like Rouen & Bangkok are turning out to be favourites. Rouen has an apple preserve we make with Himachali apples; it’s fruity, refreshing, its combination is identifiable and hence appealing.
Which beverage style do you look forward most to in coming times?
I see,wish and anticipate a lot of local Indian brands that are coming up. I really hope the best for them as there are a variety of quality spirits, liqueurs & beverages that exist but are unable to feature in the limelight because of the existing excise policies. I feel the right time is now, for them to come forward since everyone is talking about #vocalforlocal it should only be fair that these brands stand tall as proud Product of India
What’s the one mixology myth you want to break?
All the books one can read or mugging up a thousand cocktail recipes will not make one a great bartender; one has to work and implement and execute in real time at bars and work long hours to gain real experience – I promise you, the growth you make and experiences learnt you will not find in any book or recipe.
What’s your favourite tipple at the end of a busy day?
A glass of chilled water with a lemon wedge 😀 or fresh lime soda sweet with leftover lime juice. I also love eating the leftover fruit garnishes of the day and if there is any left, staff chai….. 😉
What is your advice to young professionals seeking a career in this field?
Work smart and be consistent; the age of the internet has made it much simpler to be visible and impactful as compared to our days when flip phones were a luxury. So make use of the abundant resources, aim high and workout a plan to reach that goal.