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A great cocktail experience is not limited to taste-Yangdup Lama-Sidecar

Shivaraj
Writer
A great cocktail experience is not limited to taste-Yangdup Lama-Sidecar

Ranking #26 on the list of the World’s 50 Best Bars, Sidecar is one of the most happening, and cocktail-centric bars in India. We got in touch with Yangdup Lama, a globally recognized bartender, trainer, consultant, author and co-founder of Sidecar.

Read further to know more about his journey, Sidecar and cocktail scenes in India

  • Tell us about your bartending journey!

I started off as a hotelier and during my tenure at Hyatt, I was fascinated with bartending as I spent most of my time behind the bar. The first leap into the bartending journey began after a conversation with my senior about how I wanted to pursue a career as a bartender.

After I was awarded the Best Bartender in India, which laid a strong foundation for my career in bartending. After Hyatt, I started my company of mobile bartenders where we catered to a wide range of events. In 2011, I got an opportunity to be one of the first core trainers at Diageo Bar Academy. In 2012, I and Minakshi Singh opened our first bar - Cocktails & Dreams, Speakeasy at Gurgaon. We have had great success with Cocktails & Dreams and we continue to do so even today. In December 2018, we established our second bar - Sidecar in Delhi.

  • What’s the story of Sidecar?

My dream was always to open a bar in Delhi. We had to launch Cocktails & Dreams in Gurgaon as we couldn’t afford rentals in Delhi. Following its success, we launched Sidecar in December 2018.  So far, Sidecar has received lots of love and appreciation from our customers and industry experts for its cocktail culture. We have been fortunate enough that Sidecar’s head of beverages Mr Rohan Matmary, won the World Class Bartender of The Year 2021 - India. 

The design of Sidecar puts the bar in the spotlight. It’s an interactive bar space as it can be seen from every corner of the floor and it stands for what it is - a bar. Here, you will find yourselves at ease in experimenting with cocktails and enjoying the craftsmanship of the bartenders.

Talking about cocktails, Sidecar’s new menu is Delhi-centric and revolves around the culture, history and flavours of India’s capital. 

  • What’s Yangdup’s take on cocktail scenes in India?

Bartending in India is blooming. In the last 1.5 years, I have seen a great amount of enthusiasm towards creating an indulging cocktail experience from bartenders and hoteliers/ bar owners as well. The cocktail culture in India is shaping up because consumers are appreciating the craftmanship of a bartender and exploring cocktails at good bars. There is a growing interest towards cocktails made with local ingredients amongst both consumers and bartenders. The combination of excitement from the consumers and the industry has contributed towards the flourishment of cocktail culture in India.

The Indian beverage industry is massively growing with great employment opportunities. Alcohol brands like Diageo are playing a prominent role in creating awareness of cocktail culture amongst consumers. When there is a great platform to present the talent, good support, and a strong partnership from the liquor industry, India can definitely create an unforgettable mark on crafting cocktails on the global market. 

  • Any suggestions and tips for consumers and aspiring bartenders?

For consumers, I would suggest being friendly with the bartenders. When you interact with the bartenders, you will get the best experience with the offerings of the bar.  As for bartenders and people from the industry, I would say we need to remember that at the end of the day discipline is the key. 

  • Tell us about your favourite drink and what makes a great cocktail experience.

My first cocktail was Black Russian, but now, my all-time favourite cocktail is Manhattan and I enjoy all kinds of Manhattan, not just the classic version! My favourite cocktail on Sidecar’s menu would be ‘Khari Baoli’ - which is a twist to the classic Manhattan. It has a subtle hint of black cardamom that’s sourced from the Khari Baoli, Asia’s largest spice market in Delhi.

To me, a great cocktail experience is not limited to taste. It begins with the aesthetic and vibe of the place. Then, the interaction with the staff and bartenders about preferences and recommendations. Next would be the talent of the bartender in crafting and presenting a delicious mix. Finally, the drink has to match the consumer’s palate and only then I can say it’s a great cocktail experience.

  • What’s next for Yangdup Lama and the Sidecar team?

The next big thing for us is to focus on delivering consistency and aiming to open up more bars across India and maybe even expand beyond the country.