Breaking Barriers and Crafting Cocktails: An Exclusive Interview with Pearl Fernandes, Leading the Evolution of Bartending in India

In the dynamic world of bartending, where creativity and innovation converge, Pearl Fernandes stands as a beacon of inspiration and empowerment. As a trailblazing woman in India’s burgeoning cocktail culture, Pearl has not only defied stereotypes but also reshaped the landscape of mixology with her passion, skill, and unwavering determination.

In this exclusive interview, we delve into Pearl’s journey, exploring her motivations, challenges, and the transformative impact of women in bartending. Join us as we uncover the insights, trends, and projects driving the evolution of this vibrant industry through the lens of one of its most influential figures.

Interview with Pearl Fernandes

Hoteliers Web: What inspired you to pursue a career in bartending, and how did you overcome any challenges you faced as women in the industry?

Pearl Fernandes: I was initially drawn to the world of hospitality by my childhood experiences, watching my mother cook and experiment with all sorts of exciting flavors. I dreamt of becoming a chef and working in a kitchen, inspired by her culinary passion. However, after I spent some time working in the hospitality industry, I soon discovered that the part that I enjoy the most is interacting and meeting new people. This is when I chose to transition to bartending, which allowed me to utilize my skills while forging meaningful connections with patrons and other people in the industry. Blessed with a strong support system of friends and family, I always had the encouragement that empowered me to overcome misconceptions and stereotypes, enabling me to carve out my place in this previously male-dominated industry.

Hoteliers Web: Can you share some insights into how women bartenders are influencing cocktail culture in India?

Pearl Fernandes: Women bartenders in India are reshaping cocktail culture with their exceptional organizational skills and multitasking abilities. Drawing from their diverse backgrounds, they’re leading the way in innovative mixology, introducing new flavors and techniques that appeal to a wider audience. Their presence highlights the importance of diversity in driving industry innovation, inspiring others to embrace creativity and inclusivity in bartending.

Hoteliers Web: How do you see the industry evolving with more women entering the field, and what impact do you think this will have on the overall landscape?

Pearl Fernandes: As more women enter the bartending field in India, the industry is poised for significant evolution. With the rapid globalization and the introduction of new liquors and brands, coupled with a growing market for alcobev, the bartending sector is flourishing as a substantial $52 billion industry. This growth presents numerous opportunities for aspiring professionals, including women, to excel in the field. Looking ahead, I am confident that their unique perspectives, skills, and contributions will bring fresh innovation to the field – enhancing the industry’s appeal for a wider pool of consumers while also fostering a more inclusive and welcoming environment for all.

Hoteliers Web: What are some of the latest trends and innovations in modern-day mixology that you find particularly exciting or noteworthy?

Pearl Fernandes: When I think about the trends in modern-day mixology that I find particularly exciting, two things come to mind – the recent uptick in collaborations between bartenders and chefs and the growing emphasis on using local ingredients.
The collaboration between bartenders and chefs opens up a world of flavorsome possibilities. By understanding flavors better and utilizing ingredients found in their own restaurant & bar kitchens through these collaborations, modern bartenders are crafting cocktails that perfectly complement the culinary offerings of the restaurant – creating a cohesive dining experience for guests.

Additionally, the trend of using local ingredients as the hero in cocktails is both innovative and culturally enriching – encouraging bartenders to delve into the rich tapestry of Indian culture and ingredients to unearth lost flavors and traditions. This trend not only adds depth to cocktails but also celebrates the diversity and richness of India’s culinary heritage – reflecting a broader shift towards localisation and cultural diversity in modern mixology.

Hoteliers Web: Could you elaborate on the factors driving these trends and innovations in the world of mixology?

Pearl Fernandes: A major factor driving these trends is the desire among bartenders to stay abreast of global developments and create cocktails that reflect international standards. However, the availability of certain spirits and ingredients outside India can sometimes pose challenges for bartenders seeking to replicate these recipes. In response to this, there has been a growing appreciation for the vast variety of raw goods available within India itself. As a result – from spices and herbs to indigenous fruits and flavors – bartenders have now begun to explore and showcase the rich diversity of local ingredients. This rediscovery of India’s culinary heritage not only adds depth and authenticity to India’s cocktail culture but also serves as a source of pride for bartenders across the country.

Hoteliers Web: What are some common misconceptions or stereotypes about women in bartending, and how do you address them?

Pearl Fernandes: One of the biggest misconceptions with alcobev at large has been that it is a male-dominated industry. However, as the industry grows and people embrace more progressive mindsets it is refreshing to see a positive shift in the legal and moral restrictions that were previously holding women back from entering the field. I consider myself very lucky that I had all the support from my parents who encouraged me to enter the field while it was still at a very nascent stage in the country. During that time, I definitely recall encountering a few people who would question my skills or undermine my capabilities, but the best way to deal with it is to be confident in your capabilities and expertise which makes it possible to power through any circumstance and perhaps even set examples for others to pursue their passions unabashedly and forge their own paths in any industry.

Hoteliers Web: How do you think aspiring bartenders, especially women, can navigate their way in the industry and establish themselves successfully?

Pearl Fernandes: Every aspiring bartender deserves a seat behind the bar, but it’s not just about claiming your spot—it’s about owning it. Embrace your uniqueness, hone your craft, and let your passion for mixology shine through. By boldly stepping into the world of bartending with confidence and determination, women can not only thrive but also inspire others to do the same.

Hoteliers Web: What advice would you give to women who are aspiring to join the bartending sector?

Pearl Fernandes: My advice is simple: embrace resilience and determination as your secret ingredients for success. In this dynamic and fast-paced industry, challenges are inevitable, but they’re also opportunities for growth. When faced with obstacles, don’t be discouraged—instead, let them fuel your determination to push forward to raising the bar in no time!

Hoteliers Web: Lastly, could you share any upcoming projects or initiatives you’re involved in that our audience might find interesting or inspiring?

Pearl Fernandes: Bombay Sapphire has enjoyed a rich history of celebrating creativity, and the latest campaign that we are working on for the brand is no exception to this spirit. It revolves around bartenders drawing inspiration from local iconic monuments and incorporating elements to craft unique cocktails. The creativity and innovative techniques emerging from their ideas have been truly inspiring, pushing the boundaries of mixology to deliver an unforgettable experience filled with innovation and expression. I’m eagerly looking forward to unveiling this exciting journey of creativity and delicious discoveries for our audiences!

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