Victories make for great stories, but failures teach you a very important lesson in life. Devi Singh, the bartender from Firefly, Goa has learnt many such lessons through the two years he competed in World Class. Both the times he made it to the Top 6 but was just a few steps short from being the Indian finalist.
This year he returns to World Class 2019, Diageo Reserve’s 11th annual bartending competition with a new and improved game plan and an unquenchable desire to win.
We got talking with this chatty bartender who takes us through his bartending journey. From mixing drinks in a shack in Goa to conjuring creative cocktails on an international competition, he’s come a long way charming his guests, one cocktail at a time.
Here’s what this World Class Top 10 contender had to say about his bartending life.
When did you first realise you wanted to be a bartender?
Bartending happened to me by chance. Four years ago, I used to work as a waiter at a beach shack in Goa. That’s when I made a drink for some guests and they loved it. They praised me and everyone appreciated that cocktail. In that very moment, I realised this is what makes me happy and this was my calling.
Now, here I am, loving what I do best— Bartending.
What cocktail do you order when you’re on the other side of the bar?
It all depends on the mood. It can range from a highball to a perfect Negroni.
One over-rated drink you’re tired of hearing people order
The Long Island Iced Tea!
People think that the mix of multiple spirits might be an interesting order but what they need to understand is that there are many cocktails out there that let you indulge in each flavour to the fullest. I always urge people to drink better and drink responsibly.
Tell us a bartending tip you learned during World Class
The best learning so far has been that, it is not only a great drink that makes your guest happy, it is the overall experience. Right from the ingredients, to the making, the serving of the drink and especially the interactions you have at the bar with your guest, everything matters.
Tell us about your World Class cocktail creation and how it stands out from the rest
The idea was to create a sustainable tiki cocktail. Except for the whisky, my ingredients were all sourced from within 10km of where I was. From using local ingredients like bimbli juice, which is a citrus fruit in Goa to leftover jackfruit pulp, I’ve made sure to create a cocktail that is completely sustainable.
This reduces the carbon footprint, which is good for the environment. This environmentally friendly initiative is something we all have to achieve together and that’s why I named my drink Walk Together.
What cocktails should we be sipping in 2019?
I believe that we should be open to experiencing new things in life and that includes different cocktails too. But if you ask me, then the highballs, the fizz and the Collins are some of the trending cocktails we should be drinking in 2019.
Other than your own, which other World Class cocktail by any of the top 10 bartenders did you like the most?
Fellow bartender and a very close friend to me, Bipeen Kekan from Pune made a cocktail with Singleton and Johnnie Walker Black Label, adding some homemade sandalwood bitters. That cocktail was something I really liked.
Now that you're in the top 10, how do you plan to impress your guests?
I always try to impress my guest with my simplicity and by encouraging them to understand their drink better. Apart from that, I will make sure to introduce them to the global culture of cocktails and add a personal touch to every drink. I’m sure that would have a long-lasting impact on the guests.
Tell us one incident from your early bartending days that taught you a lesson for life
If I have to quote any specific incident, then it has been my defeat from the last two years at World Class. I always made it to the top 6 and failed to win the title, which taught me that it is not just a great drink which makes you the winner, it’s the complete package that you serve across the bar.
Instead of giving up, I tried to look back and figure out where I was lacking and kept practising to improve. I worked on delivering the complete combination of a great cocktail concept, cocktail presentation, my polished personality and most importantly, thinking out of the box and being unique.
If you could choose anyone at all to share a drink with right now, who would pick and what drink would it be?
The drink would definitely be a perfect well-balanced Negroni with Erik Lorincz (a well-known celebrity mixologist from the UK) because I am highly inspired by his life story and his amazing concoctions.
You can follow Devi Singh on Instagram @mixandtravel to see his latest World Class updates and cocktail creations.