On September 10, Drinks International, the UK-based magazine covering the beverage trade across the world, announced its 2020 Bar World 100 list, a ranking of 100 most influential people in the global industry — mixologists, bartenders, bar owners, journalists et al. And for the first time an Indian mixologist, Yangdup Lama, made it to this list on the 73rd spot. Monica Berg of London bar Tayer + Elementary has topped the list. The Bar World 100 is a respected guide to the leaders of the bar industry, chosen by a voting panel of more than 100 worldwide commentators.
Forty-eight-year-old Lama has been mixing drinks for the past 25 years and runs two bars in Delhi-NCR, one in south Delhi and the other in Gurugram. Sidecar, his south Delhi bar, won a spot on this year’s Asia’s 50 Best Bars, the second Indian bar to be on this prestigious list which is an offshoot of the World’s 50 Best Bars, owned and organised by William Reed, a B2C media company in the UK.
Nitin Tiwari, a well-known mixologist in Delhi, said that Bar World 100 is a prestigious list in the industry, “and it’s something we anticipate every year”. He added: “India has never got a chance to get featured until now and I hope we’ll get more such mentions.” Tiwari is a consultant mixologist at Indian and international bars, and is co-founder of Together at 12th bar & restaurant, Le Meridien, Gurugram.
“It means a lot to me to be on this list. It goes on to show that Indian bars are being noticed at a global level,” Lama, who hails from Darjeeling but has been working in Delhi for more than two decades, told TOI. Being behind the bar all these years has given him unique insights into India’s bar culture.
“In India, promoters of this business have always believed that a bar needs a DJ. They have never invested in the skills of the bartender,” said Lama. He also added that drinking behaviours are changing now for the better.
“One key thing is that the young crowd is more experimental. There was a time when people never trusted their drink with a bartender. These days they connect with the bartender, ask questions — what whisky are they drinking, what’s the flavour profile of gin, where’s the wine from. The Indian consumer is truly coming of age,” he said.