Shatbhi Basu
Ace Mixologist

She has learnt to understand the ideology and cuisine of a place before she plans the drinks. A vision of the target audience is equally important while weaving in styles and flavours. She is not pushed to using techniques that may dazzle visually but do very little on the palate. Let us not be blindsided by adherence or classification, she cautions.

Any discussion on new age cocktails vs classical cocktails actually puts me in a bit of a quandary. The old classics are the current new age! Almost everything new in the cocktail scene is either a twist on the old or is inspired by the old. They are often just the forgotten cocktails. It is the battle to stay current with the west. Somewhere in this war of what is right or not we are losing out on the real issue. There is no fight. But why bring in rigidity and definitions. Everything changes and evolves over time. Perfection is highly overrated. Are we really going to stand in front of the mirror and ask the proverbial question? Let me cite an example. I had just created a few signature cocktails for Paul John Single Malt. They had released The Edited Julep on their YouTube channel and a very concerned Head of Marketing called me to say that a bartender he had met in the UK had messaged him to say that the drink was a Smash and not a Julep! I didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry, because, in that cocktail, I used fresh fruit along with the mint. In my mind I began with the premise of the Julep and twisted it. I was okay with it but just to set my friend’s mind at ease I sent him the definition by Jerry Thomas who described the smash as a julep on a small plan. I told him ours was an Edited Julep on a Paul John plan! The reason I bring this up is to say let us not be blindsided by adherence or classification. They show us the way to go forward. Not tie us down without reason.

I think there is merit in bringing back the old fashioned or the Negroni and twisting them if necessary to meet the palate of our guests. Even a Fizz, Flip or Crusta if you insist. And there is no point in looking down upon a guest who wants a Long Island Iced Tea, Dirty Martini, or in turning one’s nose up at a Mojito. They came for a reason and stayed for one too. It is the customer and without him/her we don’t exist.

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