Uttarakhand’s Sahil Negi wins bartending championship

Ooty (Tamil Nadu), June 21 : Sahil Negi, a young man from the Garhwal region in Uttarakhand, has won the Ultimate Bartender Championship 2019, beating 19 finalists here.

He was announced the winner on Thursday night and has clinched a chance to visit popular global festival London Cocktail Week in October.

After travelling to eight cities including Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru, the final leg of the fourth edition of Monkey Shoulder's Ultimate Bartender championship brought together 20 bartenders who had won the regional rounds of the competition.

The participants competed against each other over different rounds comprising quizzes on spirits, and rounds that tested bartenders on pouring, serving, nosing and cocktail preparation skills.

On his win, an ecstatic Sahil told IANS: "From coming from a small town Garhwal in Uttarakhand to working in Delhi, getting selected for this competition and now winning it and getting an opportunity to visit the London Cocktail Week, everything means a lot to me.

I did not even think of making it to the finals. It's like a dream come true."

His ultimate dream? To open his own bar in his native place one day as he finds lack of bartending culture there.

"People are still not ready to take up bartending as a profession in India, especially in small towns.

They feel bartending is just playing up with alcohol but there is more to it. A bartender is a multi-tasker. He has to take care of guests, he has to interact with them, he needs to have proper knowledge about liquors and the ongoing trends and so on.

"We don't have many bars in small towns.

So obviously, awareness among people will be less there. But things are changing. A lot of companies are looking for local talent and such championships and talent hunts are helping in giving right exposure to the young talented bartenders," he added.

Though Sahil considers himself a newbie in the food and beverage industry, he has already worked with the Oberoi Hotel and famous bars such as Perch Wine and Coffee Bar and Threesixtyone Degrees in Delhi.

On the challenges he has faced in his journey so far, the graduate in hotel management from IHM-Dehradun, shared that he had to work a lot upon his communication skills.

"Communication skills play a vital role in a bartenders' life.

If you have poor communication skills, it would become hard for you to survive in the industry. Consumers who come to bars like to get entertained, and if you don't interact with them or please them, they won't buy a drink from you.

Skills pay the bills.

"One of my major drawbacks is my poor communication skills. I am an introvert... If a girl comes and asks for drink, I really start becoming nervous. We, people, from small towns have not great facilities. We lack good and advanced education facilities. Fortunately, I did my schooling from Haryana but my English is also not good. I am still learning it," Sahil added.

The two day gala was held at the Savoy-IHCL SeleQtions, Ooty.

(Simran Sethi was in Ooty, Tamil Nadu, on an invitation from Monkey Shoulder, one of the world's leading brand of Scotch whisky.

She can be contacted at simran.s@ians.in)



Source: IANS