September 30, 2023
Jeet Verma, Award Winning Bartender From Asia On The Most Important Skills Bartenders Should Have
Meet Jeet Verma, an award-winning bartender on the definition of a good bartender, on how to increases beverage sales and what a good day of bartending looks like.
Jeet has worked in many prestigious restaurants in the UAE. He started as a Bar Back with one of the best Indian restaurants, "USHNA," in Abu Dhabi. He then moved to the Japanese concept of "KOI" as a Mixologist and now works at MASTI COCKTAILS & CUISINE, Dubai.
Winning various awards like the Caterer (Middle East) Bartender of the Year in 2020, Mixologist of the Year in 2022, and being featured in the Top-50 Bartender power list powered by Lyre's, he shares with Sid Patel, CEO of London Spirit Competition on how to grow beverage sales at a bar.
Current place of work
Tell us about yourself.
In my nine-year career so far, I have worked in many prestigious restaurants within the UAE. I started as a Bar Back with one of the best Indian restaurants, "USHNA," in Abu Dhabi. Later on, I moved to the Japanese concept of "KOI" as a Mixologist and now find my home in the award-winning MASTI COCKTAILS & CUISINE, Dubai. Masti means "Fun & Mischief," which aligns with the philosophy of my cocktail program. Each cocktail has a story to tell and is equally fun and mischievous. My keen interest in wines has helped me achieve the right balance while creating cocktails at Masti.
I also work closely with the kitchen team to bridge the gap between the Bar and the kitchen world, constantly learning new flavors and techniques that can be used in the cocktail world. I am very health-conscious, so I make an effort to deliver a healthy beverage program by using a maximum number of botanicals, natural sources of sugar, sustainable concepts, and understanding the value of each ingredient in the drinks. With my team's help, I globally elevated Masti to the 50 best discovery list and achieved a ranking of 198th.
I have successfully completed WSET level 1, level 2, and level 3.
Why did you want to become a Bartender?
My journey as a bartender commenced when a friend introduced me to a captivating video during my hospitality graduation. The video featured the legendary Alexander Shtifanov, a world-famous flair bartender. Intrigued by his mesmerizing skills, I was instantly drawn to the world of flair bartending. The artistry and showmanship displayed by flair bartenders ignited a spark of curiosity within me. As time went on, I discovered that my heart lay not only in the spectacle of flair bartending but also in the realm of mixology. The opportunity to craft unique and inventive cocktails fascinated me. I yearned to explore new flavors, experiment with diverse ingredients, and conceptualize innovative concoctions that could tantalize the taste buds of my Guests.
Though my journey started with flair bartending, it ultimately paved the way for my passion to flourish in the realm of mixology. The inspiration from the legendary Alexander Shtifanov has left an indelible mark on my career, motivating me to continuously strive for excellence in the captivating world of cocktails.
What are some of the most important skills for a Bartender?
To be a great bartender, a myriad of skills come into play, but I firmly believe in the importance of product knowledge, creativity, consistency, and socializing.
Product Knowledge: In the world of libations, knowledge indeed wields great power. The beverage industry is not just about serving drinks; it encompasses a foundation of trust. Our guests place their faith in our creations and savor them, making it imperative to possess the right information. Understanding the what, why, and how of each beverage we serve is paramount.
Creativity/Tactics: In today's dynamic era, creativity holds immense significance in every aspect, particularly in the ever-evolving beverage industry. To stand at the pinnacle of our game and create awe-inspiring experiences for our guests, we must immerse them in a world of creative wonder. With easy access to a vast array of new techniques and flavors, we are empowered to curate innovative and captivating experiences like never before.
Consistency: I consider consistency to be one of the crucial keys for a bartender. It is the unwavering commitment to delivering a quality product each time a guest visits. By upholding this standard, we build trust amongst our patrons, which greatly benefits the business. Consistency is not merely a skill; it is a reflection of our organization, passion, and dedication to our craft.
Socializing: Among the most vital skills for a bartender is the art of socializing. A captivating and outgoing personality allows us to engage with our guests and showcase our creations to their fullest potential. As we strive to connect with each patron, sharing comprehensive information about even an average cocktail is far more rewarding than withholding it from a remarkable creation. In today's age, we are fortunate to leverage several platforms, such as social media and podcasts, to extend our influence and reach a broader audience.
Image: Jeet Verma at Masti Coctails & Cuisine, Dubai.
What do you look for when you plan to buy new products for your business?
My personal approach to purchasing revolves around a mindful consideration of a product's uniqueness, supply chain, health benefits, storage or shelf-life, and overall value for money. By adhering to these principles, I strive to make choices that.
Recently, I acquired a cocktail based on Ayurveda botanicals, and it epitomizes the embodiment of my criteria. Its uniqueness lies in its complex blend of Ayurvedic ingredients, making it unlike any other cocktail I've experienced. Moreover, the cocktail boasts remarkable health benefits, aligning with my wellness-oriented approach to consumption. Additionally, its long shelf-life ensures I can savor it over time without concern for spoilage, thus reducing waste.
If you had to pick one spirit brand that you love, which one would that be?
Tequila and Gin are my top choices for their low-calorie content and intricate flavors, making them ideal spirits to savor. Their versatility allows for an array of delightful concoctions that cater to diverse palates. Among my favorite brands, I hold Herradura Tequila and Stranger & Sons gin in the highest esteem.
What's the best part of your job?
The best part of bartending lies in the captivating world it opens up through meeting numerous guests. This experience allows me to build a broader social network, fostering connections with people from all walks of life. Interacting with diverse individuals enriches my cultural awareness, offering insights into various customs, traditions, and perspectives.
Image: Jeet Verma
Please share some tips to increase beverage sales in a Bar.
There are several valuable tips to boost beverage sales, and I am delighted to share a few of them that have proven to be effective:
Team Training: Investing in comprehensive training for the team is paramount. Providing them with product knowledge, upselling techniques, cross-selling strategies, and adept situation handling equips them to engage with guests confidently.
Team Incentive Program: Implementing a well-structured incentive program serves as a powerful motivator for the team. Recognizing their efforts and skills instills a sense of value and appreciation, leading to heightened job satisfaction. A happy and motivated team is more inclined to go above and beyond to exceed guests' expectations.
Special Events: Hosting special events such as cocktail master classes, guest shifts, and tastings injects excitement and novelty into the beverage offerings. These events create curiosity among guests, enticing them to return for unique and engaging experiences beyond their regular visits.
Social Media and Online Promotion: Utilizing social media platforms and your website to showcase your beverage offerings is a strategic move. Sharing captivating images, videos, and enticing descriptions piques the interest of potential guests and entices them to explore what you have to offer. Engaging content on digital platforms can translate into increased footfall and revenue.
By incorporating these strategies, you can elevate beverage sales, foster a positive and dynamic environment, and leave a lasting impression on your guests. As a result, your establishment will thrive as a destination of choice for both loyal patrons and new visitors seeking remarkable experiences.
What do you love hearing as a bartender?
Absolutely, hearing guests' appreciation not only for the drink but also for the effort and passion put into crafting it is one of the most rewarding aspects of being a bartender at Masti, a cocktail bar and Gin bar. The pride that swells within me when I witness our signature cocktails gracing the tables, eliciting a resounding "wow" from guests, is unparalleled.
At Masti, mixology is an art form, and every cocktail is meticulously curated to deliver an extraordinary experience. Knowing that our creations have left a lasting impression on our guests, bringing them delight and satisfaction, is truly gratifying. It affirms that the dedication and creativity invested in each libation have not gone unnoticed and that we have succeeded in making their time at Masti exceptional.
How can a customer get your attention in a crowded bar?
In a crowded bar where the noise level can be high, providing attentive and personalized service to each and every guest can be challenging. Anticipation and Eye contact are indeed essential key skills for bartenders to ensure that no guest feels overlooked and that their needs are met effectively.
Anticipation: Anticipating the needs of guests is a valuable skill that enables bartenders to be proactive in their service. By keenly observing the body language and behavior of Guests, a skilled bartender can identify cues that indicate when a guest may need assistance or a refill. Anticipation allows bartenders to stay one step ahead, making the service more seamless and efficient.
Eye Contact: Maintaining eye contact with guests is a powerful form of communication. It conveys a sense of attentiveness and respect, assuring the guests that they are being heard and acknowledged. Even in a crowded and bustling environment, a simple nod or smile in response to a guest's eye contact can make them feel valued and attended to.
By combining anticipation and eye contact, bartenders can create a genuine connection with their guests, despite the noise and commotion around them.
What is your go-to "surprise me" order?
"The Old Rhu" is a meticulously crafted cocktail, reminiscent of a classic Tom Collins but with a refreshing twist. It is made of Basil-infused old tom, pink ginger cordial, Cardamom leaf tincture, strawberry & rhubarb soda. But what truly sets "The Old Rhu" apart is the inclusion of the Szechuan Button, a unique and fascinating ingredient. Upon consumption, this small flower bud delivers an extraordinary tingling sensation, igniting a delightful mouth-watering effect that enlivens the entire drinking experience.
Please name 3 bars that you admire and why.
The following bars I truly admire are:
BOCA DUBAI: The most captivating aspect of this bar is its commendable sustainable program, which showcases a deep concern for our planet's well-being. Alongside their commitment to sustainability, their artisanal carbonated preparations are exquisite, unparalleled, and simply delectable. Through their carefully crafted concoctions, they deliver an unparalleled flavor profile into each cocktail.
PENICILLIN HONG KONG: Seasonality and fermentation lie at the very heart of Penicillin's cocktail-making philosophy, and I find myself enamored with the allure of fermented beverages. Embracing seasonality represents one of the most laudable sustainable practices. By using the freshest seasonal ingredients, they bring a diverse array of flavors to their menu, allowing guests to savor the essence of each season.
Image Source: PCO DELHI
PCO DELHI: This bar exudes a nostalgic ambiance, featuring a vintage telephone booth entrance and soft, ambient lighting that evokes the spirit of the Prohibition era. The decor exudes style, contributing to a sophisticated and intimate setting. PCO Bar has earned a reputation for their meticulously curated cocktails, blending premium spirits with fresh, top-notch ingredients, resulting in a delightful and innovative fusion of flavors.