Calls for a Toast! This Indian is One of World’s Best Bartenders

Yangdup Lama is the first Indian to make it to the Drinks International’s annual Bar World 100 list.

Published
NEON
2 min read

Cameraman: Athar Rather
Video Editor: Puneet Bhatia

“It is not about how fancy the cocktail is, it is about do you feel comfortable coming to the bar five days a week because the bartender is your friend.”
Yangdup Lama, First Indian to Enter Drinks International’s Annual Bar World 100 List

That’s Yangdup Lama’s mantra for a perfect high. It’s not the cocktail but the conversation that makes it work.

Perhaps it is this philosophy that has made Yangdup the best bartender in India and one of the best in the word. He’s the first Indian to make it to the Drinks International’s annual Bar World 100 list – the ultimate list of world’s most talented bartenders.

Think of it like the Michelin star a restaurant or a chef gets, but this one is for bars and bartenders.

Delhi-based Lama comes from a small village in Darjeeling. From the land of the ‘chai’ to the world of ‘cocktails’, it was never a planned journey.

Yangdup Lama comes from a small village in Darjeeling.
Yangdup Lama comes from a small village in Darjeeling.
(Photo: The Quint)
“I am an accidental bartender because the intention was not to become a bartender. I had done my hotel management, so the intention was to become a hotelier. Accidentally, I was asked to work at the bar and I saw a senior of mine who was a great bartender at that point in time and he kind of inspired me and that’s how I, went across to him one fine evening after we shut the bar and told him, ‘I want to be a bartender’.”
Yangdup Lama, First Indian to Enter Drinks International’s Annual Bar World 100 List

2020 has been good to Lama, his Delhi bar Sidecar was ranked among the Top 50 bars in Asia. For Lama bar and bartending is not just a business, it’s high art for him and he hopes one day bartenders get the same respect as chefs.

A bartender is an artist. You know unlike chefs, we as bartenders are always in front of the guest so that bar is the stage where you got to perform.

Yangdup Lama at his bar Sidecar in Delhi.
Yangdup Lama at his bar Sidecar in Delhi.
(Photo: The Quint)
“I would like to say it is even more difficult than being an artist because as an artist you have an open canvas and you can take all the time in the world to paint your creativity on that canvas. As a bartender, you still have an open canvas, but you are restricted as far as time is concerned. If a guest comes to my bar and says, I would like to have something with a whiskey twist and if I take one hour to fix the drink, I’m not a good bartender.”
Yangdup Lama, First Indian to Enter Drinks International’s Annual Bar World 100 List

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