All about Sidecar, the only Indian bar in Asia’s Best 50 list, and its creator

Of Asia’s 50 Best Bars in 2020, only one is Indian. Sidecar in Delhi, is at number 40 in the William Reed Group’s respected, much-anticipated list released recently.

It is no wonder that the man behind the bar counter, Yangdup Lama, is thrilled. The mixologist, bartender and entrepreneur — who is deep into spirituality, by the way — chooses to respond with a Spider-Man-like sentiment: with great power comes great responsibility. Yangdup says he hopes “to keep winning trust and deliver the best always, so people look forward to visiting us”.

Sidecar is Yangdup’s second project, his first being Gurugram’s first speakeasy bar Cocktails And Dreams. With 25 years of experience in bartending, Yangdup says that his motive at work is not to be listed, but admits that such recognitions are encouraging for the team nevertheless.

Contrary to the popular saying that the life of a bar is two years, he says that a bar should have an enduring, friendly neighbourhood charm.

Over a phone call from Delhi, he discusses his cocktail philosophy: “The basic guideline that I follow is, ‘anything edible can go in a cocktail’. Cocktails should be diverse in flavour and culture. Take coffee, for instance. India produces good coffee, like tea, and depending on where it comes from, it influences the flavour of the cocktail differently.”

He also experiments with nuts, in his creations. “I once infused three types of nuts — almonds, walnuts and peanuts — in a 50-year-old single malt whisky. Everyone thought I had lost it. But when the makers of the whisky tried the infusion, they said they wouldn’t have the single malt any other way.”

Lockdown mixology

The mixologist, who is making the best use of his unplanned stay at home, is thrilled to be able to re- start theoretical learning.

“It dawned on me that I still had a lot of learning to do about cocktails. I love taking some quizzes and knowing where I stand,” he says, adding that he has also been doing a lot of online training with his staff.

“Without the the pressure of work everyday, we seem to be learning a lot better,” says Yangdup, adding that he is also using this time to teach the team about mindfulness, since he has an interest in spirituality.

“In that process, I must say that I too have benefited. Mindfulness elevates your experience, especially at work. If we can put our heart into our work, we will not only work better but also make more enjoyable cocktails and create a better experience for our guests,” states Yangdup, adding, “I believe that whatever we do should make us happy.”

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