Mixologists are artists, states Mohammad Ali, Founder of Mixologist Academy
Mr. Mohammad Ali, Founder of The Mixologist Academy of Bartending is a seasoned bartender and has earned the mantle of a Mixologist after years of hard work and innovation.From humble beginnings to developing one of the most well structured bartending schools in India, the journey has been entertaining to say the least.
Mr. Mohammad Ali has worked in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Delhi, Goa etc. He keeps remembering states and cities over the 10 years of his career and that seems to be a testament to his nationwide understanding of the bar scene. He has worked in some of the most reputed bars in India.
HospiBuz: What drew you to be a Mixologist? How does one go from being a bartender to being a Mixologist?
Mr. Mohammad Ali: A Mixologist is a loaded term which unfortunately has been thrown around by anyone and everyone in the hospitality industry.
I was inspired by the bartending giants of India at the time (of which there were only a handful). Their passion behind the bar, their skill with tools and their ability to convert seemingly simple ingredients into pieces of pure art blew my mind. These pioneers drew me to the world of bartending.
Being a good bartender takes experience. Learning how to be a “people person” in particular and making the drinks that the mixologist has designed for him. A good Mixologist works mostly behind the scenes and is always prepared. He designs the cocktails, creates homemade bitters and liqueurs, prepares the ingredients before the bar starts and makes sure the quality of ingredients behind the bar is always high. It is the mixologists job to make sure that the bartender has all the tools he needs to carry out his job.
HospiBuz: Please share your idea behind the inception of Mixologist Academy and What do you attribute this success to? Please give us a Glimpse of diversity at ‘Mixologist’ with the variety of events, consultancy as well as an academy.
Mr. Mohammad Ali: The idea was simple. Goa is a huge market for alcohol. Thus, by extension bartending. Unfortunately, the quality of bartending in Goa was not upto scratch and I felt like I could do more to bring about a positive change in the industry instead of just complaining about it. With a vacuum in a booming industry, success was inevitable.
Unfortunately, being successful was much harder than building a drink even though it only required one ingredient, hard work.
We started from teaching 3 students in a rented classroom to having a division for the academy, events, consulting and even recruitment. I was lucky to meet a talented bunch of individuals who were instrumental in making The Mixologist the brand it is today.
HospiBuz: You have come across some of the India’s Best Mixologist. Who inspires you the most?
Mr. Mohammad Ali: I have been fortunate enough to come across some of the best bartenders from across India. The bartender I have looked up to the most would definitely be Mr. Yangdup Lama. Humble and extremely talented; he has set a precedence that I look to follow. He has made a mark for India at an International level and has opened doors for bartenders everywhere.
HospiBuz: ‘Mixologist’ are artists who happens to use Bar Equipment. What’s your take on this? What are the most important tools of a cocktail making for a connoisseur?
Mr. Mohammad. Ali: Mixologists are artists. Designing a drink takes skill and years of research. Blending and balancing a drink takes an experienced eye, nose and palette. Despite this, if the presentation and general appearance of a drink is not appetising, you may as well have failed. The Japanese have taken this to heart and present the most unlikeliest of flavours in beautiful final products. The tools you use do not define a bartender. The tools are a means to an end. We could use a hammer to achieve a lemon twist instead of a bar spoon if presented with no option.
HospiBuz: A Mixologist working long shifts, reaching, shaking, stirring and muddling the whole time. Do you feel it’s like being a Rock Star and yet being underrated?
Mr. Mohammad. Ali: At the end of the day, the rockstar comes to the bartender in order to wind down after a tough show. Being underrated is part of the job description. A bartenders job is to make the customer feel like a rockstar. That is what drives a good bartender.
HospiBuz: I am sure there are a million crazy stories you could share with us from your experience as a bartender?
Mr. Mohammad. Ali: We’re usually having a good time behind the bar and there’s always something entertaining going on. I’m sure the best story was when a 5 year old walked into the bar and asked us for a, “wold fashun”. All of the bartenders stopped working in a busy bar and couldn’t stop laughing for a whole five minutes. All the bartenders abandoned their post to take care of the adorable future bartender and of course we made sure the child made it to her parents with a non-alcoholic, “old fashioned” keeping her busy.
HospiBuz: Being a great mixologist yourself and effortless weaving and bobbing between the tools and immaculate technique inspired so many people what advice would you like to give budding bartender?
Mr. Mohammad. Ali: Bartending is not just a 3 or 6 month course. It is a lifetime of study and research that drives a brilliant career. Understanding yourself as a bartender is an important trait that helps you understand your market better and develop trends within the industry. Acting on an idea is just as important as thinking one up. Most importantly, being humble will take you places. Never lose hope in this industry and contact me if you do.
Thanks for your precious time!!