The Shout Magazine (New Zealand)

Who is the Cocktail Champion of the Year?

Mohit Sharma.

Mohit Sharma, a tutor at the Professional Restaurant and Bar School, was named Supreme Cocktail Champion of the Year (sponsored by Bartercard) after at the recent NZ Hospitality Championships. A first time competitor and also a freelance cocktail designer, Mohit took home the title during an intense cocktail competition. The Shout caught up with Mohit after his big win…

 How did you get into mixology?

I started working with the Holiday Inn Hotel in India as a ‘trainee’ after I had completed my diploma in Hospitality Management in 2003. Despite being good on the floor, I didn’t really have much chance to work at the hotel bar. But I found bartending attractive and my interest grew over time. Eventually, I ended up in a School of ‘Flair & Mixology’. After that, my journey as a mixologist began.

Why did you decide to enter the NZ Hospitality Championships?

It was bit of personal challenge from my wife. I was reasonably well-known in India as I had been involved in product launches, restaurant openings, and even made appearance on television. She questioned whether I could be successful in an environment where I was unknown. I thought that this competition could be the right opportunity to ‘put myself to the test’ again.

How would you describe the intensity of the competition?

I have been following this competition for the last three years, and I have noticed that it continues to move from strength to strength. The talent seen in these competitions is great. The stress I felt before the competition was very intense and I have to admit to few sleepless nights before stepping on the stage.

What did you have to do during your time competing?

I had to participate in three different categories to be considered for the title. The classic cocktail, where I had to produce four classic drinks in 15 minutes; the innovative cocktail, where I had to produce two drinks in 10 minutes; and the mystery box, where I had to produce two drinks using undisclosed ingredients. These events allowed me to demonstrate a wide variety of job-related skills, such as work-flow, creativity, ability to produce a good drink, even health and safety was evaluated.

What was your first thought when you won?

My first thought was ‘Waaoo I’m still young!’. The bartender inside you never gets old.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I may have my own cocktail bar with a Mixology Training Academy attached to it.

How would you describe the NZ hospo scene?

The NZ hospo scene is cosmopolitan. Diversity keeps it very interesting. Still I feel that the cocktail culture lags behind when compared to other countries. But we will get there SOON!