Kolkata’s best bartender Uttam Singh of Bodega Cantina-Y-Bar (winner of Times Awards 2017) is not a man to rest on his laurels. It’s been hardly a week after his recent triumph and he is already hard at work, vying for the title of Diageo World Class for the prestige of being the best in the world.
On asking what drives him, the uber cool gentleman smiles, “My passion. And the opportunity to do something creative everyday, something new.” Uttam, whose roots are in Uttar Pradesh but was born and brought up in Kolkata has had a Charlie Chaplin-esque upbringing and reveres his dad, who taught him his hospitality skills.
A student of St. Anthony’s and Khalsa High, his first job in the hospitality industry was that of a trainee at Oberoi Grand in 2003, where he helped around, cleaned and collected glasses but learnt a lot in the process. He moved on to Olive, Mumbai followed by a stint of one and half years in Sheraton, Bahrain and finally joined a cruise ship primarily as a bar waiter and then moved steadily through the ranks to finally be a bartender. Being on a ship helped him grow and explore the nightlife all over the world and learn new languages. Brazil, being his most favourite nightspot.
Mr. Uttam loves drawing inspiration from his life to work his magic. Case in point: The Atlantis Fizz (on the Bodega Menu) is inspired from the porthole of a ship, a testimony to his days on a cruise ship. His favourite poison? Absolut Elyx and Tanqueray No. Ten dry gin. He believes in staying true to the base spirit and ascribes it as his secret to success.
While in conversation, Mr. Uttam gracefully put together an impromptu concoction which tasted like spring in a glass, looked as amazing as it tasted. He named it “Hobe Na”- dedicating it to the constant refusals by the Kolkata cab drivers.
On asking about his oh-so-sexy-beard, he explains that he grew it after getting inspired from a colleague and picked up things from the internet on how to care for it. “My wife isn’t too happy about the beard though”, he signs off.
Mr. Uttam’s recipe for a great party:
Punch ( comes from the Hindi word Paanch, courtesy the 5 ingredients used to make it).
To make Punch for 5, you will need:
1. Rum 300 ml
2. Black tea 500 ml
3. Sugar syrup 120 ml
4. Lime juice 120 ml
5. Flavour of your choice i.e peach, apple, passion fruit, strawberry paste etc
Finish off with spices of your choice (star anise, cinnamon, nutmeg) and ice.
“But drink responsibly and always be a gentleman”, smiles the star bartender.”
P.S. Bodega Cantina-Y-Bar is coming up with a brand new menu and some mind boggling cocktails next month. Stay tuned for updates.