Mumbai mixologist makes country proud by being the only Indian to come second at the global competition

Mumbai-based mixologist Himanshu Desai’s cocktail, ‘For The Good Times’, won him the second spot at the Rémy Martin Bartending Talent Academy Competition 2018. Desai has now become the first bartender to represent India at this globally renowned competition, which was held in Cognac and Paris. The competition is a medium to identify talented bartenders as the ones-to-watch in the industry with their skill and dedication.

The inspiration behind Desai’s cocktail was the nostalgia of his childhood hobby, photography. His delicate and balanced cocktail uses Rémy Martin VSOP along with other ingredients such as apricot puree, Aperol, lemon juice, a pandan leaf and sandalwood tincture. The innovative and out-of-the-box flavour profiles marry to together to bring about just the right balance of sweet, sour and bitter to ensuring that it wins everyone’s heart.

The cocktail had to appeal to the global audience while staying true to the country. Desai wanted his cocktail to be a playground of sweet, acidic and bitter flavours and he chose natural ingredients such as sweetness of the apricots and acidity of the lemon juice as well as some Asian flavours. He also relied on the light spices and fragrant notes of sandalwood. Talking about the presentation of his cocktail, he says, “I went for a India-inspired presentation at the competition, with my choice of glass and the placement of a miniature sword atop it. Sticking to the theme of the finals, I served my creation on a journal. I even shot a picture of the judges on the spot, and attached it to the presentation to justify my hobby."

Chronicling his adventures as an amateur photographer, Desai says, “If not a mixologist, I would’ve been a photographer, something to which even my Instagram accounts bear witness to. I even went on the trip with a travel journal and a Polaroid camera to document my entire journey and experience throughout the competition, and therefore it was but obvious for me to seek inspiration from my love for photography.”

Currently, the Beverage Manager at Massive Restaurants group in Mumbai Desai specialises in creating modern cocktails and reimagining the classics with a contemporary twist. Prior to this he worked in Dubai for about four years where he discovered his love for Cognac: “Before, all I knew about cognac was that it came from France. It was while at my job in Dubai that I went on to slowly develop a liking for Cognac, and now that it has all my heart and soul, I can keep talking for hours about it.”

Of Rémy Martin Bartending Talent Academy Competition 2018, Desai says, "The opportunity to not only compete against the best-in-class emerging mixologists from around the world but also exchanging ideas with them has made this competition a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”  

Here is Himanshu Desai's recipe for his winning cocktail ‘For The Good Times’:


What you need:
50 ml Rémy Martin VSOP
15 ml Aperol Sous Vide with Pandan Leaf
20 ml Apricot Purée
20 ml Lemon juice
2 Drops Sandalwood Tincture

Getting started: 
1. Mix all the ingredients in a shaker with some ice.
2. Shake well or until the shaker turns cold.
3. Then strain the liquid into your best coupe glass.
4. Garnish with dried apricot. If you’d like to go all out, you could pour your cocktail in a Crafted Tankard made in India! 

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