On September 16, Remy Martin Talent Academy hosted a competition where 12 of India’s leading bartenders from across the cities battled out to showcase their bartending skills. The competition was followed by a cocktail evening, where Jamie Rhind, Bar Operations Manager of Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2018, Bamboo Bar at Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok, took over the guest bar shift. At the sidelines of this event, Restaurant India had a brief interview with him, where he spoke about the energy of the competition, the bartenders’ creative skills, and how travel has influenced his cocktail menu
It sure was one of the most intense competitions held in the space of bartending. And there was a reason, considering that the winner now will get a chance to represent the country at the international finale of the Remy Martin Bartender Academy to be held at Cognac, France. Excerpts from the interview:
How was the competition? Did you enjoy it?
It was amazing. I saw some really cool ways of presentation. You can pretty much guarantee that every bartender in the competition is going to make drinks, so the focus is on what else they do? If you look at the winner today, she was doing some sort of meditation music and that is what made it so different. So, whatever you bring to the table, what catches your attention is something that is different and unique. It’s a competition where judges judge 12 people for 12 minutes each. So it’s interesting to see how the competitors do something to stand out. It’s your passion for making cocktails and what you do with it and I think it shines through in a contest like this one. A lot of them had this today. There’s one this I can take back from India and that is their passion for bartending, which is amazing. They love what they do. So it is really nice to see that.
Do you think Indian bartenders are not experimental?
For me, it is all about travelling through which I get to experience new things. Whether you learn from your performance on the stage or get inspired by other people, travel is going to make you creative. I was impressed by the winner. I liked her presentation. She was passionate about her performance and this is what’s important. I loved the Tom and Jerry classic as well by one of the guys. So there were really nice cocktails.
How does travel influence your bartending skills? Where do you get your inspiration from?
First of all, you have to know your clientele. When I first arrived in Bangkok, I did a menu based on my ideas that I had in London. It was very cool but the local market did not like it. They are very proud of their flavours and ingredients and they don’t like to change. They like to see things on the menu which they already know. So my second menu was based on local ingredients. Incorporating local ingredients into your menu is cool when you are travelling. It depends upon where you are in the world. In London, they want to try the craziest things. They have a lot of money to spend, they want to try and if they don’t like it they don’t care. But in Thailand people want to see what they know.