Priyanka Kandalkar

With growing health consciousness, low ABV cocktails have bright future in India’s cocktail scene. Sometimes taking it easier and having a lower ABV drink is more desirable for alcoholic beverage drinkers.

Priyanka Kandalkar hails from a family that has eclectic tastes. Her mother is a retired teacher, while father is a lawyer. Her brother is a musician and percussionist. Armed with a Bachelor’s degree in Tourism Management from Mumbai, and a six month certification course in bartending from Stir Academy, she discovered bartending as a career option while watching NDTV Good Times.

She used to watch a show called ‘In High Spirits,’ hosted by Shatbhi Basu. Inspired by the show, she shifted from working in the back house to working behind the bar. “I began my career with Four Seasons, Mumbai, in 2009, and had an opportunity to handle bar and be a bar-back. I was privileged to be in the pre-opening team of the famous and awarded AER Lounge,” she informs.

Bartending as a profession has its own glamour though it was a taboo one in middle class India, even a decade earlier. Priyanka goes on to share that her mother was terrified with her decision but her father decided to back her. “Many of my parents’ friends today share with me the stories of how my mother used to call them and discuss about my decision. But today I am happy that my mother is totally supportive of me and my work and I have used her recipe of fresh guava and mint juice for my client’s restaurant. So you know where my main inspiration comes from,” she says with a smile.

A professional challenge she faced in her bartending career was that she could barely understand wine. This induced her to study wines and she successfully completed three levels. When she finished her WSET level she got an offer to work with Yauatcha Mumbai as an Assistant Sommelier. After her marriage and her baby, she joined Flairology, Mumbai.

Today, she is the owner of a startup venture called Koala Hospitalyst. It is the fruition of a decade-old dream that she and her partner Ajay Mankame had nurtured. “We wanted to set up a training institute which offers easy and affordable training solutions in the realm of hospitality,” she avers.

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