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How to create the dream drinks menu by Pranab Pramanik

We talked to Pranab Pramanik, food and beverage supervisor at West Hotel Sydney, which is part of the Curio Collection by Hilton about his career and why he wanted to work in the bar and drinks industry.

1. Can you tell us about your background and how you first got into drinks?

After completing my degree in hotel management I started my career as a bartender in a 5-star hotel, The Oberoi Rajvilas in Jaipur in India where I was able to immerse myself with the flavours and beverages and slowly started to have my own influence on the list and was able to create some of my own recipes and listings on the hotel’s drinks list.

The Oberoi Raj Vilas

The Oberoi Raj Vilas View

2. Why did you want to work in the bar sector?

My passion for wanting to work in bars started during the second year of my studies where I was able to really get to know about the production processes of all the major drinks categories across spirits, liquor and wine, and how they can all be brought together and mixing as part of being a bartender and mixologist.

3. How did you progress into your current role?

Working at one of the world’s most reputable hotels - The Oberoi Rajvilas - does open the door and give you opportunities in other venues. I was able to work at Bangalore’s Rooftop Bar the Bang in The Ritz-Carlton where I was given the freedom to really express myself and become a key member of its bar team.

In order to expand my knowledge in the field, I got the opportunity to pursue a masters degree from the world’s renown Blue Mountains International Hotel Management School in Australia whilst at the same time working in the Pullman at Sydney airport. From there I became a restaurant and bar supervisor in the West Hotel, Sydney where I have been able to implement a new strategy to improve beverage sales and am now looking forward to becoming a restaurant and bar manager for a new standalone restaurant.

West Hotel

West Hotel

4. What is involved in your current role and your main tasks?

My current role involves: managing the bar and restaurant; using strategy to increase revenue; maintaining beverage costs; focusing on innovating new cocktails; menu engineering and menu planning; maintaining food safety and hygiene; providing training to the staff; and ensuring guest satisfaction.

5. If you were given a hotel or restaurant’s bar and drinks program to fix and grow sales where would you start and what steps would you take?

First, I would look to fully understand the clientele and what their needs are then focus on how to achieve that. I would then look to carry out a market feasibility study to understand the pricing and any other considerable factors that will determine how successful the drinks program will be. Tin particular I would focus on our suppliers and our relationships with them and what our pricing and margin strategy is.

6. What questions would you ask of the owner to know what sort of drinks list to create?

I would need to talk to them about their clientele and target customers, what their future business strategy is to attract more customers and what the required profit margin would be from the beverage list.

7. What do you most look for and want from drinks suppliers to help drive sales?

Good pricing and excellent availability.

8. Can you think of any good examples of partnerships with suppliers and drinks you have listed as a result?

Over the years I have built good relationships with Pernod Ricard, Kemmineys Beverages, and Wholesale Beverages. By working with a major supplier like Pernod Ricard you can achieve good margins by committing to a long term strategy that focuses on a certain number of key beverages.

9. What does success look like for you from a drinks programme - what are the key ways to show success?

Success for me comes in the pleasure of creating new cocktails and hearing the word “WOW” from our guests.

10. How have you devised the drinks programme at the West Hotel in Sydney?

I have created a list that only includes the best quality products, made to the highest standards, which we have matched with the quality of our beverage team. All our products are carefully and strategically priced with a 100% commitment to guest satisfaction.

Pranab Pramanik

Pranab Pramanik, Food And Beverage Supervisor at West Hotel Sydney, Curio Collection by Hilton

11. What do you focus on to be good in your role?

Anticipating guest needs and creating drinks they will like.

12. What do you see as being the key skills and talents needed to be a good bartender?

Understanding your guests and having a passion for playing with flavours.

* You can find out more about the West Hotel in Sydney here

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