Two cocktails being strained from a shaker into glasses

Blogs & Inspiration

My Bartending Journey in the Indian Bar Industry

The Indian bar industry has grown over the years, and Yangdup Lama has witnessed it all. Dive into this piece as he shares his experiences, tips, and more!  

Author: Yangdup Lama, Renowned Mixologist & Bartender

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes 

Renowned Indian bartender and trainer, Yangdup Lama, talks to us about his career, the rise of the Indian bar scene, and how Diageo Bar Academy has played its part in developing the industry in India.

My story

After school, I got a job as a waiter at Hyatt Regency Hotel in New Delhi. For the first six months, I only served drinks on the floor. At this time, there were not many cocktail bars and our hotel bar, Polo Lounge Bar, was amongst the finest cocktail bars in India complete with a live band. 

Later, I asked my supervisor to allow me to work behind the bar and he agreed. Two years later, I became a part of the launch team for one of India’s finest bars, Djinns. It was one of the best experiences, and the bar could seat 250 guests and was extremely busy, especially on the weekends. 


Education is a never-ending process. In bartending, there is no exception, and education is as important as experience. Good education improves your staff’s knowledge and is the base for being the best. Without education, then I would not be where I am today. It’s the basis for a successful career. 

Diageo Bar Academy

Diageo Bar Academy has been instrumental in exposing bar staff to the right skills in India. From technique to character building, it offers a great platform for aspiring and upcoming bartenders to shine in the industry. 

I was involved in the first Diageo Bar Academy training in April 2011, where I educated bartenders on the skills required to grow their careers. Back then, there were a few bartenders who had made their mark in India. Today, having trained over 3,000 bar professionals, India is more defined and has all the finesse it requires. 


The Indian cocktail scene has come of age, and it is not too far behind from, say New York or London in terms of technique and flavours. The advantage here is the diversity of culture and the length and breadth of the country. 

From sweet to sour, India is rich in terms of flavour offerings. The last five years have seen the growth of cocktail bartenders. The global finals of WORLD CLASS 2011 in Delhi have been instrumental in promoting quality bartending and gave recognition to bartenders in the country. 

Lately, Indian cocktail bartenders have been using local flavours - mostly spices and fruits. The lack of availability of big spirit brands is a big challenge, but there are enough locally produced flavours to play with and substitute if you know how to use them in the right way. 


We are falling back to the classics, but with a more intelligent approach. Bartenders are more technically sound and put a lot of research into selecting ingredients. They’re playing with all kinds of stuff, from technique to the use of ingredients and presentation. It is about being unique in style and flavours, so they go more local in ingredients. 


  • Education is crucial for the success of every bartender.
  • Diageo Bar Academy has played a crucial role in upskilling bartenders worldwide.
  • Local flavours and ingredients have defined the cocktail scene in India.

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