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Cocktail of moods

Bartender Bhushan Apte specialises in mixing heady cocktails, which he did at the Fort St. George bar, Taj Coramandel, recently


BHUSHAN APTE spends sleepless nights in Mumbai. Employed as bartender at Insomnia, a nightclub at the Taj Mahal Hotel, Mumbai, he mixes heady cocktails at night and sleeps during the day. For about two weeks now, he is free of this routine. But not totally. He has been spending sleepless nights in Chennai. More precisely, at the Fort St. George bar, Taj Coramandel.

With hands as steady as those of a surgeon, he juggles an empty beer bottle and a tall silver glass. We are impressed by his juggling act.

Question: "Do you sometimes drop a glass?"

Answer: Apte dropping a bottle is as unusual as a poodle dropping hair. But now and then I do drop glasses. I am also human."

Having broken the ice with us, he asks us if we would have some cocktails. "Three simple cocktails for the three of us," we chime. He pours attention-grabbing blue curacao into a triangular glass and laces it with dark rum. Then he prepares a Bacardi-based drink. He is obviously reserving the best for the last.

Elaborate `arrangements' precede the preparation for the third drink called Depth Charge. Three inverted glasses sit silently on the table. Straddling these three glasses is an inverted Martini glass, which is crested by a glass filled to the brim with an energy drink. Two straws stretch across this glass, thereby propping a small glass, which contains vodka spiked with crθme de cassis. Now, Apte launches into a juggling act with an empty bottle. After some legerdemain, he hits the small glass with a clank and it plops into the bigger glass.

"In Insomnia, it is much more elaborate. I prepare six Depth Charges simultaneously. As I swing a burning bottle, there's a flurry of clinks and plops. Lights are flashed on me and the cocktail cabinet, for that dramatic effect," says Apte. The `insomniac' adds that the ritual is meant to enthuse the youngsters and first-time visitors.

Thirsty for some celebrity trivia, we ask him about the film stars who frequent Insomnia and the cocktails they like to guzzle. He quirks his mouth, partly in surprise and partly in amusement. "How can you ask me that? It is unethical to disclose the names of my customers." We cover into a corner. Recovering manfully, we pipe up, "Why not? Celebrities and their cocktails make interesting copy."

Apte laughs. "After a drink or two, anyone will make interesting copy, not just celebrities."

P.S.: From June 10 to 30, two bartenders from the Taj's other hotels will preside over Fort St. George.

PRINCE FREDERICK

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