Tipple Tales: Arijit Bose, the man of the moment

From working behind a bar, representing spirits brands, launching multiple businesses — including an award-winning bar at the height of the pandemic — Arijit Bose, the ace mixologist turned entrepreneur, in a freewheeling chat, reveals the key to staying relevant and ahead of the curve.
Arijit bose, partner at the celebrated bar tesouro in south goa is pushing the envelope in the bar and spirits scene.
Arijit Bose, Partner at the celebrated Bar Tesouro in South Goa is pushing the envelope in the bar and spirits scene.

Arijit Bose’s journey in the mixology scene seems like what dreams are made of. He is a disruptor of a kind, always wanting to do more and give back more to the bartending community. At present, he dons many hats such as Co-founder of The Lover’s Rum, Countertop India, Bar Back Collective, Partner at Bar Tesouro, South Goa, and Creative Partner for Mr. Jerry’s cocktails.

His continuously evolving career path spanning across 20 years started with a Hotel Management degree in Mumbai, followed by stints at nightclubs and bars, presiding over beverage training programmes for various brands, and beverage faculty at his alma mater IHM Mumbai. While working with Bacardi India, he was involved in the beverage sales and marketing aspect, which helped him gain an understanding of the spirits market. That led to a role as the travelling Bacardi Brand Ambassador for India.

Speaking of where India stands in mixology right now, Bose says, “Though there have been significant jumps in standards and the supporting ecosystem for bars and cocktails, we are substantially behind our neighbours in the Asian and international bar community. That is also partly because very few pure bars exist in India and usually have a larger food menu, which requires a different kind of attention. However, we are fast catching up thanks to the effort put in by various brands and the pursuit of those in the community towards opening pure bars, which in turn will see the drink and mixology standards improve.”

His latest venture, ‘Countertop India,’ helps set up bars and offers consultancy to beverage brands to run innovative new drink programmes.

Since last year, several Indian bars have been making it to the coveted list of ‘Asia’s Top 50’ and the ‘World’s 50 bars’. In Asia’s 50 Best Bars list this year, Bar Tesouro is ranked No. 4.

Bar tesouro is one of the best bars in india.
Bar Tesouro is one of the best bars in India.

“This is a good sign, and we will surely see many bar pop-ups with more international talent coming to India. The Indian craft industry and the distributors have played a significant role by working tirelessly and at financial risk to get in great spirits and products to the bars that improve our ecosystem, making it a great place to invest. Countertop aims to be a contributing member of this ecosystem and see more bars get recognition,” says Bose. 

Bar Tesouro, a pandemic baby, which has already received many awards and recognitions, was conceptualised as a cocktail bar that executed the authentic vibe of Goa. Three partners, Pankaj Balachandran, Donovan Vaz, and Bose, have decades of combined experience and understanding of the bar scene and the market. That helped them create a thoughtful cocktail menu offered in a Goan-spirited bar. Bose agrees that the locals of South Goa are a big part of the vibe that makes Bar Tesouro what it is today.

He highlights some of the most important trends that will drive the bar scene shortly: “Use of quality ice hand-carved for drinks is a big thing, and more and more companies are providing quality ice to bars. For example, JuSTiCe in Delhi and there are many others. Another trend catching up is the need to create effective bar counters and home bars, as shown by companies such as SpeedX. Bars are spending money on getting the right equipment so the bar team can work better and more efficiently. That is going to become a baseline for bar ops soon.”

Besides new techniques, use of ingredients and textures other than what was in our drinks, there is a push toward non-alcoholic mixed drinks or zero ABV drinks. More use of agave spirits, cane spirits, organisation of drinks and spirits festivals for a large consumer base, and last but not least is Goa becoming the beverage capital, not just because of cheaper alcohol or better norms but because of individuals and teams pursuing quality. The state has become the next culinary capital of India, and beverage is following hot on its heels, thinks Bose.

The team at south goa's bar tesouro. Arijit bose is third from left.
The team at South Goa’s Bar Tesouro. Arijit Bose is third from left.

One of his latest ventures is The Lover’s Rum, conceived in Singapore and produced in Amsterdam, catering to the needs of the new-age rum drinker. But why rum? Rum is always fun. The international market is seeing a rise in interest for newer style rums, labels, bottlers, and unique propositions. India is a bit behind, but the market is slowly warming up to the rum proposition with some new exciting brands being available now, unlike three years back. Rum has always been a bartender’s spirit, and this newfound interest in various styles of rums from all over the world is giving the category a further boost.

“From party drink, speakeasy-style classic drinks to exquisite cocktails designed for sipping with a cigar, the versatility of rum makes it all about enjoyment and social interaction, without taking itself too seriously. Hence for us rum was the right space to be in,” says Bose.

Lastly, highlighting the challenges and opportunities for the new generation of bartenders, Bose says that there’s genuine appreciation for the craft in India now. That makes it the best time to be in the bar industry. Brands have mainly contributed to this change by creating more and more spaces for growth and career progression within the industry.

Rum is having a moment in the world of spirits and bartending right now and arijit bose hopes to capitalise on it with the lover's rum.
Rum is having a moment in the world of spirits and bartending right now and Arijit Bose hopes to capitalise on it with The Lover’s Rum.

“My advice to the aspiring bartenders is to have a plan and negotiate their way through the years to realise that plan. Not be too quick to leave jobs but find out what the job can offer them as training for the next stage of life, what is the right fit. Learn to use all tools at your disposal, including various social media platforms, to increase your chances of making it in the industry. The key is to keep upskilling,” says Bose.

“Opportunities only arise when you create situations for them to present themselves,” he adds, “As an upcoming bartender, try to attend bar events and show support, network, and constantly absorb and imbibe so that every passing month or year, the industry sees a better you. Be loyal, be ethical, and be supportive. If you have to leave a job for a better opportunity, do it the right way while guarding your reputation. That is a required trait in any line of work.”

Bose concludes, “After two decades in the industry, having worked in most aspects of the beverage business now, I am back to focussing more on operations of running bars as that’s the best way to stay relevant and ahead of the curve.”

Rojita tiwari
Rojita Tiwari is the Founder of Drinks & Destinations, a wine & spirits consulting firm in India. She is an award-winning drinks writer, educator, trainer & consultant, and a juror at several international wine, spirits & cocktail competitions. She is a Senior Specialist at International Drinks Specialist, the UK, and co-founder of Agents Of Cheer & Story In A Bottle, India’s foremost curated drinks events. Her Instagram handle is @rojitatiwari.

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