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Bartending: Gender no bar!
Take a glass of fruit juice. Add your favourite spirit, garnished with a wedge of lime, and voila! The perfect cocktail. If you don't find anything unusual about it though, take a look behind the bar -- the bartender is a woman!
Ami Shroff, 21, is one of the rare breed of women bartenders in India, and her spins with bottles leave onlookers applauding. She won first place at the recent Bacardi Martini Grand Prix regional finals (Mumbai 2006), going on to be the only female finalist at the national finals. A pioneer in what has been a male-dominated profession, Ami is establishing a niche for herself in the field of 'flair' bartending. We got her to talk about why she does what she does�
Why she got into the profession: "The movie Cocktail, starring Tom Cruise, fascinated and impressed me. Flair Bartending seemed interesting and different and I felt I would be good at it. It's like a sport that catches your eye, and you want to give it a shot," says Ami.
How she began: "I started when I was 18, and have been doing this for three years. I have no mentor, although there are many other bartenders who inspire and impress me."
Training: "There was no official course as such. I simply learnt with the help of friends."
Obstacles: "In the beginning, my parents weren't happy, because they didn't understand bartending. Stereotypes still exist but, in time and with awareness, people will start accepting it."
A typical day at work: "I'm a freelancer, so I work at private parties, corporate functions or similar events. There is no standard kind of a day at work; every event has its own uniqueness. But every party involves making a lot of drinks. I keep trying out creative cocktails, getting many people drunk and then feeling sorry for them later�"
Earning potential: "Bartending is picking up in India and more people are getting aware about wines and their cocktails. So, the demand is increasing. A regular bartender at a good hotel or nightclub should earn around Rs 8,000-15,000 a month. On a cruise liner, one could earn even more than Rs 100,000 a month. There are promotions -- a bartender could become a bar manager, start training other bartenders, or work abroad. There is a lot of demand abroad, in Dubai and UK for instance. Eventually, one can even open a place of one's own."
The job profile of a bartender: "A bartender should know his or her mixes, be able to serve customers their drinks fast and right, be hygienic, smart, and have the right attitude. Up to a certain extent, a bartender should entertain and amuse the crowd through bar tricks or talking. But, he or she should be able to give the customer a reason to come back to the bar."
Aptitude: "One needs to have a good head on one's shoulders, and carry oneself well. Basically, if someone is smart, they can manage any job well. You excel only when you work with what interests you though."
Favourite cocktail: "I like the Long Island Iced Tea and Baileys On Ice. I keep experimenting with my drinks."
Being a female bartender: "It could be tougher because you are stepping into an industry where you will stand out. You get difficult people, some may discourage you, but no occupation guarantees success. It depends upon the individual. It may be easier because you stand out, so there is more demand. Also, women have a different style and attitude. It's how you carry yourself that counts."
The best thing about being a bartender: "I am in control of the bar. In a way, I am responsible for people having a good time that night or not. I meet interesting people and visit different places. I have a lot of fun working behind the bar. I have participated in four competitions over the last two years. I stood third at the IBOM Delhi competition 2005 and first at the Bacardi Martini Grand Prix regional finals in Mumbai."
Romantic cocktail recipes: "If you have strawberries and cream after a meal, pour in some good whisky into the cream and mix well. Or make a nice cocktail with ingredients available at your house. Chop a fresh fruit like peach, strawberry or mango, blend it with crushed ice and any white spirit -- vodka, gin, etc. -- then select a juice that you feel will go well with the fruit. Blend it all together to make a nice frozen drink. Orange juice has the best chances of working with any fruit."
Institute of Bar Operations & Management
Vasant Kunj, New Delhi
Web site: www.bardevils.com
Indian Institute of Bartending, Chennai
#16/2, Jawaharlal Nehru Salai
100 Feet Road
Chennai -- 600106
Phone: (044) 6533 0070
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Web site: http://www.iibtindia.com/
STIR Academy of Bartending
Above Revival Restaurant
Director's Name: Shatbhi Basu
Phone: (022) 24452750
Hospitality Training Institute
Behind City Light Cinema, Mahim, Mumbai
Director's Name: Dominic Costabir
Phone: (022) 24453914
AL - 31, Sector 2,
West Bengal -- 700 091
Are you a bartender? Share your experiences in the profession
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