'Indian cocktail culture will soon influence global market'

'Indian cocktail culture will soon influence global market'

" India is one of the fastest growing luxury goods markets, with an upcoming cocktail culture. Bartenders here are being inspired to create drinks using the local flavours and ingredients and I have no doubt that we’ll see an explosion of Indian influence globally over the next year," says Tim Etherington-Judge, brand ambassador of leading drinks brand Diageo Reserve, known for brands like Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff and Talisker.

Tim is in India to judge  an international bartending competition, 'Diageo Reserve World Class 2011', the global search for the best bartender in the world  with estimated 10,000 entrants across 39 markets from the most famous bars around the world.

The inaugural edition of the competition was held in 2009 and it educates bartenders and inspires them to create exceptional cocktails, service and experiences for consumers. This time, India has been chosen as the host nation.

"We are committed to nurturing and supporting emerging markets across the globe. This is why India, a vibrant country, with a rich culture and heritage, has been chosen as the host for the grand finale," says Etherington.

"Our brand is well positioned to cater to the growing appetite for luxury experiences in India and this competition brings to Indian consumers, the opportunity to experience the latest international trends and rituals in mixology," he says.

The cocktail segment in India has received a major shot in the arm with the entry of foreign liquor brands. Also, people are traveling a lot and getting exposed to a variety of drinks abroad.

Etherington feels that the bar scene in India is still to catch up with the US or Europe, but he is amazed by the passion, creativity and dedication of Indian bartenders.

When asked about the current trends in bartending, he says,"the current trend focuses on the drinker and giving memorable experiences through theatrical table serves and cocktails that titillate all the senses. The bar scene has grown so big so quickly that there are no single trends sweeping the world any more. You can now find a bar that specializes in almost every facet of drinks like beer, wine and classic cocktails."

With bartender competitions, the sponsors have an exciting vehicle to promote their products and services to the right target market.  The increase in such competitions in India proves that bartender's profession is slowly coming out of the shadows of the not-so dignified job it once was.

"This is a white collar job abroad, however in India, it is looked upon as a blue collar one. But anyone having skills, showmanship and loyalty to the organisation can definitely rise higher in this job. Indians are now open to taking up bartending as a serious career option, in the same vein as a professional chef, which was not the case earlier," says Etherington.

Technically two drinks mixed together is a cocktail and an ordinary drink becomes exotic with a few deft additions and garnishes. With a lot of permutations and combinations, it opens up a whole new world, both for the creator and the drinker.

The 2011 competition will travel to four cities in India - Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Kolkata, where participants will receive extensive training on the finest spirits while challenges will be held amongst individual brand categories for vodka, whisky, rum and single malts.

For the contenders, Etherington has some words of advice.
"To succeed on this global platform, a participant must ooze passion and style, be extremely dedicated, be driven to perfect his craft and embody a love for life behind the bar."

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