One would never know what it is to be behind the bar selling the sweet poison suiting every mood. Some come to the deck happy and some want forget their loss of a job or a recent break-up, what remains constant is the bartender serving the alcohol to meet all the requirements. Clearly, mixing spirits is an art and very few could master this art of appreciating ingredients which reflect in each drink. And among the few mixologists who are navigating their way to the world of spirits is Jishnu A J, head mixologist of Ekaa in Mumbai.
It has been over nine years for Jishnu since he started his journey as a server at a five-star property in Mumbai and coincidentally moved to a bar in 2017. “I was supposed to leave the profession and then got a golden opportunity to work under Dimi (Dimi Lezinska), a world-renowned mixologist at Koko (Mumbai). It was a life-changing moment and a great decision of my life,” says Jishnu who adds that the job of a bartender has changed over the years, especially after the COVID-19 lockdown.
“When I joined the bar industry, the consumers were not well educated when it comes to spirits and cocktails, but post the lockdown, the whole scene has changed. The guest knows what spirits and what cocktails they like,” says the mixologist and reasons that bartenders have started educating the guests about the cocktails, “Masterclasses have been conducted for the guests so now people understand their choice of spirits.”
The self-taught mixologist learned everything on the job and from his mentors in the past. When asked about his inspiration behind curating drinks, he says that each of his cocktails follows a strong story or inspiration. For instance, his curation of the Petrichor cocktail is inspired by the freshwater ecosystem. “I have chosen rain and tried to recreate the wet soil aroma from the first shower.”
Though not many would share a trick for a perfect cocktail, Jishnu says, 45 ml to 60 ml should be the right amount for cocktails. "I have seen guests asking for cocktails with 30 ml (or small) and that's not possible. If you want just 30 ml then go for a G&T or a whiskey soda,” recommends the mixologist and also recommends being aware of what spirit you are having and having cocktails with fresh ingredients.
On a parting note, we quiz him if he has any favourite mix. “Mezcal and gins. I don't prefer to have a cocktail from most of the bars but rather go for a gin and tonic or Mezcal on the rocks.” In addition, he suggests opting for Batch cocktails. “It's trending nowadays. It's easy and consistent whenever you order a drink and it's quick.”
(If you have a story in and around Mumbai, you have our ears, be a citizen journalist and send us your story here. )