She's got flair!
One of the very few female flair bartenders in the country, Ami Shroff, who is also a juggler and mixologist, was down in Goa for a recent jugglers convention in Arambol. #TGLIFE catches up with her
Story: CHR | ST | 13th January 2018, 03:33 Hrs
#TGLIFE: Apart from doing flair bartending, you are also a mixologist and a juggler. At present what would you say has more demand?
Ami Shroff: Food and beverages are usually required for every occasion so in that respect the industry for bartending is bigger. And bartending included mixology. But it really depends from artist to artist. If you're a good juggler you will be in demand for that skill. For me it's a balance between both because bartending and juggling work well as a package. I can do a stage act which is usually about 2-3 minutes and then handle the bar end of things.
What is your advice for someone who wants to try their hand in this field?
If you want to begin flair you could start off flipping a 500 ml water bottle or try juggling rubber balls. Begin with things that don't break and once you've got the hang of it you can move on to glass water bottles. There are a lot of Youtube tutorial and social media pages that you can learn from and also use to connect to other people who are in this line and learn from where they get their props, where they practice etc.
Being one of the few female bartenders in the field, what's the stupidest advice you have received from a man?
Someone once told me , ‘You're such a talented woman, why are you bartending?'
You don't use a lot of sugar at your bar. Why is this?
Sugar is easier to use and works with everything which is why it is popular. But I think sugar is overdone so I find it more interesting to use alternative sweeteners. Plus there is also the health factor. There is absolutely no beneficial factor in sugar. Jaggery on the other hand which is raw and unprocessed may have some benefits and honey definitely does. Other things like dry fruits too are beneficial health wise. Plus these have their own flavour unlike sugar which is neutral. And it's not just cocktails, ice creams and other desserts which are natural fruit based are slowly growing in popularity.
What are some other trends in terms of drinks right now?
People want to have a visual experience alongside just tasting their drink. Having some interesting visual effects in your drink or around it like dry ice smoke or a little bit of fire are quite popular as are edible chemicals which can create a chemical reaction inside your drink.
Surely these can be a bit tricky to create sometimes.
There is small learning curve you have to go through and make a few mistakes along the way. You have to be prepared for making mistakes when you are trying something new so maybe you can add less rather than more of a new ingredient so that the whole drink doesn't get wasted.
What are some combinations that you've created which you are particularly proud of?
I've recently worked on the bar menu of a Mumbai restaurant where we've kept the ingredient mostly organic. We've done a whole section of gin and tonics and beer cocktails. Infact beer is a drink that hasn't played around too much in cocktails and I think it can work really well. We have done a ginger lemon an honey flavoured beer one which is really nice
Speaking of gin, there's been a growing trend towards this drink of late. Why do you think this is the case?
It's possible that people are just bored of vodka plus there are a lot of new gins coming out in the market. It used to be appreciated before and it's great that it's come back. In fact all the spirits have had their phases of being loved. Gin is a nice flavourful white spirit with some nice botanical notes and it's something even I've started developing a taste for.
What's your take on the local brands of spirits?
India hasn't had a big established alcohol culture but I think it is happening slowly. I think there should be a focus on rum because we grow a lot of sugarcane. In fact some of the whiskeys here are made of sugarcane so they are actually rum based but are sold as whiskey. This is because whiskey is more popular and is what people are interested in.