Food

Meet Rohan Matmary, the winner of cocktail challenge 2019

A career as a mixologist is an unusual choice, to say the least. And when a young boy from a tech family treads a new trajectory and works at making a mark, rewards are bound to follow suit, like it did for Rohan Matmary.

Bar Convent Brooklyn (BCB) is a place where bar and beverage professionals are invited to network with peers and learn about new trends, techniques and products in the domestic and international markets. Attendees can also attend demonstrations, keynote addresses, and panel discussions with leading industry experts. Exhibitors at BCB will be carefully curated to feature primarily premium craft spirit brands and mixers.

“My experience with Bar Convent Brooklyn was an intense blend of new spirits, innovative bar concepts and meeting the best in the trade. Spirit presentations included the unveiling of many new labels; and I got to meet some legends like Dale DeGroff, Ian Burrell, Steve Schneider, Julie Reiner, and Hemant Pathak.” He also experienced the Double Chicken Please NYC Pop-up by GN Chan, a Bacardi Legacy 2016 Global Winner, as part of a sneak preview of his upcoming bar in USA, apart from visiting Vikas Khanna’s Junoon NYC, that has a power-packed beverage programme spearheaded by Hemant Pathak.

“I got a chance to try the famous Mumbai Margarita, an intense blend of Patron Reposado, mango, rose, chilli, cilantro and his home-made salt blend, a perfect representation of Indian flavours. One more cocktail which I was blown away by was by Chetan Gangan, head mixologist at Baar Baar, NYC — The Chai Negroni. A classic Negroni rested in chai masala mix for 24 hours before being served with a traditional Bombay khari.”

Second time lucky

Having participated in the Brown-Forman American Whiskey Legacy Cocktail Challenge last year, where he secured the third position, Rohan was eager to participate this year as well. As part of the competition, 300 bartenders from across the country participated in the competition, and the top 17 made it to the national finals. This was an Indian-centric competition that saw other Indian bartenders participate, and only one winner was chosen (no runner-up either).

The competition was judged by industry experts, including Yangdup Lama, one of India’s finest and well-known mixologists; Vikram Achanta, CEO and co-founder of the popular portal Tulleeho; and Vinay Joshi, brand manager, Jack Daniel’s for Indian Sub-Continent and Maldives, Brown-Forman Worldwide LLC. “This is a unique competition in India because it tests your mixology, presentation and your ability to sell. For me, the most challenging part was finalising the cocktails, because I chose to work with risky ingredients this time. It was a tough competition, seeing young bartenders slaying the floor with unique concepts, amazing storylines and brilliant cocktails.”

Meet Rohan Matmary, the winner of cocktail challenge 2019

The competition had a nail-biting finish that saw Rohan’s creations — Lillianaire and Aztec Mule — hit bull’s eye, making him the winner. Interestingly, Lillianaire is an ode to woman power. “My story of Lillianaire is a tribute to all the women who rise against stereotypes and come out with flying colours. This is a cocktail based on the success story of the world’s richest woman and the heiress of the French cosmetic giant L’Oreal. It is also a twist on the Billionaire cocktail made by Jason Kosmos and Dushan Zaric from Employees Only, NYC. I believe it is the perfect whiskey for women and it also contains rhubarb, hibiscus and lemon.”

Past perfect

Rohan did most of his schooling in Mumbai. “I came to Bengaluru to pursue International Hospitality Management because of my interest in food and spirits.” He started his career as a trainee bartender at Trident, Gurugram. Naturally, his job isn’t easy, as he has to deal with different people who come with different perceptions and ideas. “The most difficult challenge is to understand how much the guest knows about their drinks and how we can change his perception of drinking. Another challenge is to explain the concept of responsible drinking.” For someone who believes in living in the present, Rohan says he would like to groom himself to learn not only about mixology but also how to manage high-volume bars going forward. So, let’s raise a toast to that, shall we?

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2021 12:53:36 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/food/meet-the-winner-of-brown-forman-american-whiskey-legacy-cocktail-challenge-2019/article28783980.ece

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