Tête-à-Tête with Shatbhi Basu

We would like to know your first memory associated with concocting a Cocktail ?

My very first memory is with my Dad in the kitchen. Helping him get drinks for guests at home. How he would meticulously rim tall glasses with grain sugar moistened with a few drops of Angostura bitters and make a fresh gin & lime cordial (Rose’s) with soda or tonic for the ladies.

My own first cocktail was asked to make a dry martini on my first day of work in a Chinese restaurant. I knew the recipe but had no technique. And there was no dry vermouth on their bar! So I went back to class in my mind to rewind to the definition of dry vermouth. I then made it with gin, some dry white wine and a stirrer just tipped in Campari. It worked and I began my learning from that moment on.

Your all time favorite Bar in all these years of travel?

Trader Vic’s

Your Mixology mentor is?

Trader Vic – Victor Bergeron

What are the challenges for a Woman Bartender nowadays? Are they more in comparison than when you started your career & how so?

There are no challenges except those in your mind and of course, those that the government slaps you with. I did it reasonably effortlessly all those years ago. Not to prove a point but because I genuinely fell in love with the whole concept of it. It opened up a world of avenues I had not imagined. So I just kept at it and it just got better and better.

What we lack today is passion. It’s all way to calculated. It’s about what the idea will give me before what I can do for it! It’s about fame and standing out and being the centre of attention. Nothing wrong with any of it as long as real passion for the subject reigns strong.

Sure, parental and family pressures sometimes do crop up due to ignorance. And all the misdirection by rumours, media hoopla and government policies. You need conviction and persistence to rise above. We too are part of that supposedly regressive society. If we dare to change and evolve, it has no choice but to evolve along with us.

Tell us a bit about Stir Academy?

It came about as 17 years after I began, there was still no academic institution sharing the skills of our profession. I decided it was time for me to give back what I had learnt over the years. It was difficult as we had to parameters of curriculum to fallback upon. The international schools came from a premise that their students already knew the basics as they went out drinking to bars anyway. We, on the other hand, were at level zero. We had two groups – those who came with a 3 year HM background with a little knowledge; and those who had just completed 12th with absolutely none. It was an uphill task that required serious thought. Took me time but finally it all worked out great.

I believe that you are studying oenology, tell us a bit about that ?

He says that study of Oenology is an ongoing process; he has studied his theory in Florence in Italy. The practical part according to him is the most important & is now pursuing the oenology study in regards to the Indian soil.

Do you have plans to expand STIR to other cities?

Not really. At least not in the form it is today as an everyday academy.

“Reinvent yourself” is your motto. What are you doing now with respect to reinventing yourself?

It’s an ongoing process. Every day is a new day and thoughts tumble around in your mind endlessly. I listen to the voices, make notes, write them up in a folder on my comp and go back to them now and again. I guess each one will happen at a time when it’s right. Too little time, so much to achieve .

The first glass of wine that a first time wine drinker should try is either a Classic Chenin or a Classic Merlot & then he must progress to Chenin Blanc & then to Chardonnay.

What is that one thing you would want to change about bartending in India?

I am an eternal optimist. I’m looking forward to it getting better with visionary professionals and bartenders opening fabulous outlets that we would look up to as benchmarks.

How different is bartending abroad compared to India, especially for women?

It’s all about the people who bartend. They come from mostly the same social strata as their clients as their society is reasonably equal. As opposed to ours which is stratified, ignorant and repressive. Not just for girls but for the boys as well. Hence our lack of confidence, communication and social skills.

There is no surprise factor on a bar that has a woman bartender. It’s all cool and perfectly normal.

How can the Government rules help the Liquor Industry to Grow in India and uplift the standard of the spirits with respect to European Markets

The government needs to look at the subject and treat it like any other industry. Not to gain brownie points, collect vote banks and continue the ploy of prohibition. We are in the 21st century with regressive policies taking us back to the dark ages. So unrealistic. There needs to be a radical change in policy. If they play clean and come up with progressive amendments, they too will continue to gain from the increase in business and a netter environment in which to conduct business. A central policy as opposed to state might even be better!

How do you see the impact of alcohol awareness website such as All About Daru on social stigmas & misconceptions related to alcohol in India?

I think if the focus on all areas, the good the bad and the ugly – deal with the highs and the lows while giving good, honest information, it will always be of great service.

Rapid Fire:-

Your All Time favorite Cocktail?

A classic margarita

Your All Time favorite Bar in Mumbai?

Harry’s Bar & Café

Favorite Spirit for making a Cocktail?

No favourites. I can work equally with all. That’s the challenge!

One place you have been yearning to visit?


Any pointers for the young & upcoming Bartenders/Mixologists ?

I think bartending is a strange mix of art, science and technique. It keeps you young and contemporary with the rest of the world. Gives you a great environment in which to work. Allows you the flexibility of creative process. A chance for direct interaction with the guest. A chance to showcase your knowledge and skills.

If you have a passion for this kind of stuff, pursue it. As a bartender, you are a person in your own right. Someone. Not just one of the crew!

You need to have the ability to rise above the ordinary. Beyond customer expectations.

Shatbhi Basu

Owner of STIR – Academy Of Bartending, Mumbai

Hailed as the “Queen of Mixology”, Shatbhi Basu is India`s First Lady Bartender. She initiated ‘STIR – Academy Of Bartending, Mumbai’ & is the head of India’s first institution for professional. She is the author of ‘The Can’t Go Wrong Book Of Cocktails’; a comprehensive guide to cocktails and alcoholic beverages for the Indian consumer. She is a global mixologist who understands the customer’s needs by carefully observing them, which is an art in itself.



From the distilleries in Scotland to the vineyards of Nasik, from the latest brewed news to the fermented Daru bits, from a congenial confab to high brow Q&A, Allaboutdaru takes you into the realm of knowledge and fun. You may be a beginner or a connoisseur, Allaboutdaru has something for everyone. We connect with a mixologist in you through our cocktail section and spot your thoughts with our Daru talk(s). Do you find your mundane chores bore? ¨C try out our wine tour. Explore these and much more-check what social spirits adore.Lets enter Allaboutdaru.com!

Are you of legal drinking age in your territory?