Yangdup Lama is a mixologist and an entrepreneur who heads Cocktails & Dreams/Thirsty Three Hospitality – a bar service and beverage consultancy company along - with two commercial bars (Cocktails & Dreams, Speakeasy, Gurugram and Sidecar, an artisanal cocktail bar in Delhi). With over 22 years of experience in the beverage industry, Yangdup Lama extended bar and beverage consultancy services/mobile bartending services and training to beverage professionals, liquor companies and consumers on different forms of alcoholic beverages, appreciation and usage.
He was appointed American Whiskey Ambassador India 2017 by the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS). Yangdup was also appointed India Attache by Tales of Cocktails New Orleans for 2017-18. Winner of several awards, he was adjudged Indian Bartender of the Year in 1996 and received the Asia-Pacific 30 under 30 Award in 1997.
Getting into the Art of Mixology
I began my career with the Hyatt Regency, New Delhi, after which a life of mobile bartending beckoned. It was way back in 1995 when I was assigned to work at the Bar (polo lounge) at the Hyatt Regency Delhi. My journey into bartending started then.
I have been the consultant beverage trainer for top hotel chains in India (Taj Luxury, ITC, Oberoi, Park) and the master trainer for various Bartender programs (Johnnie Walker Bartenders Club, Bacardi Bar League, Diageo Bartender Academy) and have covered extensive training with senior and junior beverage service employees across all major Indian cities in India. I was involved with United Spirits India (flavour development and activation for Vladivar), PepsiCo India (designing drinks for their existing brand portfolio, Tropicana, CSD range and Key Accounts) and Angostura Aromatic Bitters (Cocktail training for Bartenders).
I have been involved with Pernod Ricard, India, since 2008 and have been managing bars for all the brand parties (Chivas Studio, Absolut Art) and undertaking training programs for bartenders of key accounts and help develop signature cocktails for all their focus brands.
I authored my first cocktail book “Cocktails & Dreams” by Wisdom Tree in 2014 that features 50 cocktails including 25 of my signature cocktails with regional flavours. Originally from Darjeeling, I prefer the second flush from the region to any other brew.
The World of Cocktails has Evolved With the Classics
It's a very experimental journey. Every day is a new experience. We meet people from all walks of life and most importantly people become more humane when they are perfectly tipsy.
Alcohol is so closely linked with each human culture and its evolvement. Creating various forms of alcohol and utilizing the resources - all are the basic need and not a desire.
The world of cocktails is like an open blue sky. It has evolved with the classics and, today, it has no boundaries. It is completely based on one’s imagination and is not guided by any parameters. If it is balanced to the liking of the customer it is a great cocktail.
Indians are Driven towards Whiskey
Indians are still driven towards dark spirits (mostly whiskey) but the new-age consumers have become more experimental with different forms of alcohol beverage and cocktails. Craft gin and beers seem like the new big thing in India in the near future.
Unusual Ingredients in the Cocktails
Some of the most unusual ingredients are fermented millets, Sichuan pepper, lizzat papad and at times the chicken tikka masala.
Pro-Tips for Aspiring Mixologists
Be disciplined always.
The most important aspect of being a true professional is good discipline apart from knowledge, creativity and conversation skills.
Mixology Trends in 2019
New techniques, unusual ingredients and presentation will form the mixology trend. Also, the ancient practices of fermentation and dehydration of various flavours and ingredients will be seen. In-house recipes and more craft in the cocktails.
Tips on How to Appreciate Alcoholic Drinks
- Use of right glassware.
- Experiment initially and see what appeals to your palate. That’s your choice of spirit. Price is not the differentiator.
- Most spirits with character and flavour are supposed to be enjoyed neat or with a little water. If you have invested in a sipping spirit, try and enjoy the way it was before mixing. Appreciation is the key to every different style of alcohol.
- Good quality ice. Ice can make or break a drink, hence, please use good quality hard ice.
- Lastly, don't drink to get drunk. Drink to experience the journey of fine alcohol.