All the way from Mexico City, Gina Barbachano comes to India for a bar takeover

 Hanky Panky, a one-of-a-kind, members-only establishment dedicated to leading and setting the standard of quality service and cocktails in Mexico City ranks 12 on The World's 50 Best Bars list. The Cocktail Bar is integral to the city's burgeoning craft cocktail scene, and Maestro bar manager and mixologist, Gina Barbachano can be credited for its success.

All the way from Mexico City, Gina Barbachano comes to India for a bar takeover

Moet Hennessy India presented a take over of Delhi & Bangalore, all the way from Mexico City, with Gina curating a series of events showcasing the craftsmanship of Belvedere, Hennessy, Glenmorangie and Ardbeg, hosted in collaboration with The Soul Company & Dram Attic.

Smriti Sekhsaria, Marketing Head, Moet Hennessy India said, "At Moet Hennessy India we are constantly innovating to create engaging experiences for consumers and to replicate global experiences in India. We wanted to combine the power of Gina's knowledge and flavour chemistry with the craftmanship of Moet Hennessy spirits, to bring an unparalleled sensory and visual experience for our consumers at these exclusive events."

Priyanka Blah, Academy Chair for 50 best bars & Founder of The Dram Attic says, "It's a great time for Indian bars with nearly half a dozen Indian bars featuring on coveted global lists by the World's 50 Best in recent times, and being able to create an environment for patrons of these bars to experience the best of global bars is a great way to keep the culture and energy moving forward."

IANSlife caught up with Gina who is also known as one of Mexico city's top 20 fastest bartenders, to talk about her craft and the bar takeovers. Read Excerpts:

You are the force behind Hanky Panky being the world's No 12 bar... what does it take to make a bar a worldwide success?

Gina: It depends on a lot of factors and while I can't put my finger on one single element, it's most important to us that we make the bar feel like home to our guests. Even though the bar is decorated with fancy decor we always put in effort to get to know our customers and not be too serious, we laugh, we try to make sure they have a good time and I think that's what sets Hanky Panky apart from other bars.

Even with the collaboration with Moet Hennessy and the bar takeovers in India we were trying to showcase the bar and the hospitality that comes with it. We always like to laugh with the team and it was really fun and easy to work with the Moet Hennessy team and host these bar takeovers together.

As a mixologist do you believe in the puritan approach or do you enjoy experimenting?

Gina: We always enjoy experimenting, I think it's so important to play around and experiment, especially when there are no rules when it comes to making cocktails. It's about having fun and making sure your customers have fun too!

Innovation is key to succeed year after year, do you agree? What do you feel your most innovative ideas have been so far?

Gina: Constantly evolving is important in our field, if you stick to the same recipe and choose not to innovate it does get stagnant and predictable. People are ever changing, evolving year after year and so its important for the bar to also keep up with that.

When we do bar takeovers we are never replicating cocktails from the bar but focus more on introducing the Mexican culture to a different city. With the bar takeovers with Moet Hennessy we created 4 special cocktails. One of them is a drink called Adelita, which is made using Ardbeg 10 Y.O which is a tough ingredient because it has so much character and can really stand out in a cocktail so it's important to find a good balance to be able to taste the spirit as well the ingredients that go with it. A challenge like this is always fun to play around with and see what we can come up with best.

Another cocktail I thought was so innovative was the Chapulin Colorado. This is made with Glenmorangie, sweet vermouth, an infusion of coffee liquor with nuts and we brought a chocolate from Mexico which has grasshoppers inside that was also an ingredient for this cocktail that turned out so great!

It takes an army to put a bar on the map as world number 12, what do u look for in a team and how do you inspire them to deliver their best day in and day out?

Gina: We have never been focused on knowledge because that is something you can study and learn as you grown, but something we look for from our team is passion, you have it or you don't. With something like being a bartender, you might think it is glamorous and yes it can be but our daily job is so much more than that and also sometimes entails cleaning the bar and so I think you really need passion for what you do to be able to survive in this field.

I and my team have been together for 4 years and now we are like a family. Sometimes it can be hard to stay focused and motivated but our intention is to work hard to ensure people have a good time and more than anything, we love what we do!

We especially love travelling and being in different cities to showcase our craft. I saw the same synergy with the Moet Hennessy team, for them to have the love for the spirits and the craft, to bring someone all the way from Mexico to showcase to their country, it helps elevate and educate consumers about what is happening across the world in this space.

Tell us about your association with Moet Hennessy and why their spirits make for the best cocktails?

Gina: We always create new cocktails especially when we are travelling and so to have the chance to work with a legacy brand like Moet Hennessy was amazing. I am so happy to have been brought down here by them!

It was really fun to create cocktails and play around with the spirits from the Moet Hennessy portfolio. For instance, Hennessy is a cognac which is usually drunk neat or with ice so it was very fun to create something new and showcase how versatile the spirit can be. Even with Glenmorangie, which is a very easy to mix spirit, it was great to be able to create something new. The spirit even after being mixed has a lot of presence so to be able to play around with that was very interesting.

I also created this simple classic style of cocktail which is similar to a classic Manhattan called Catarina. Made using Belvedere vodka this was so special because it's a spirit I personally enjoy and it gives you a lot of room to experiment and be creative. We added a special golden bread to this cocktail which is something we use in Mexico and that is something we can only add to Belvedere, a loyal spirit who's flavour profile is not easy to manipulate.

All in all it was a lovely collaboration with premium high quality spirits which is always a pleasure to work with.

You are bringing flavours of Mexico to India, what did you introduce to the audience?

Gina: Something new we introduced through our bar takeovers in India was the grasshopper, a classic snack in Mexico, it was really interesting to do that here. Everyone was quite excited and curious about it and took to it quite well.

I make it a point to add a bit of my traditional Mexico culture into the cocktails so making the Day of the Dead, because everyone was quite surprised to see it contained golden breadmilk which was added with turmeric.

What has been your favourite cocktail from the Hanky Panky x Moet HennessyBar Takeovers?

Gina: Chapulin Colorado was my favourite, it has a delicious flavour and is a classic cocktail!

Being behind the bar you need a combination of skill and showmanship, do you agree?

Gina: Yes, I've always said it's an act, once we are behind the bar we forget about our life, our problems and we just focus on being happy and perky because that's what translates to our guests, so it's important for us to be in a good mood for the guest to enjoy themselves.

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