20 Questions with Gegam Kazarian – Molinari Brand Ambassador
In conversation with famed mixologist, Gegam Kazarian from Armenia who started his career studying biochemistry in Yerevan, and had a passion for bartending.
How did you get into the field?The very first drink I made was when I was 5 years old, at my grandfather’s house, made with fresh cherries, sugar and water in a lemonade bottle with a cherry stick. Back then I obviously didn’t add alcohol to it, but that was a sign.
Where did you start your career?I started in Armenia at a bar, working under a bar manager, an Indian guy, Biju Varghese. At the age of 20, I said goodbye to Armenia and headed to Alicante, Spain. I soon started my own bars Kazaris Lounge Bar, Kazaris Cocktail club, and Zulu Cocktail bar, among others – an amazing experience for 6 years.
What exactly do you do now? In 2009, I closed down my last bar and decided to explore the world, study, travel, see other cultures, and hence began Project Kazaris. It’s a gastronomic project around food and cocktails, applying knowledge, science and art. I share my experiences with the world; I have also learnt many new things from bartenders around the world. I consult at different bars and restaurants, working with brands like Molinari, G’Vine Gin.
Is this your first time in India? How has your experience been so far? Yes, this is my first time, and I love India! I have tasted Indian food before but it is so different here, here you can actually smell all the spices in the food.
Why India? India is growing, and in the next 5 to 10 years, India will probably be the cultural centre of the world! In India, you have the most important ingredients – hospitality and love.
What do you think is the next big thing for India in terms of beverages? I think Gin will see a big market in India soon. Tequila at the moment seems to be doing really well around the world, and that could also reach the Indian market.
What do you think about the bartenders you’ve seen so far in India? I’ve seen some really nice bars, a very good level, not just bartending, but in the concept, the music. The bartenders I’ve seen so far have pretty good knowledge about beverages and have the passion to learn!
Around the world, what is lacking in bartenders today? Well, not in Asia, but many parts of the world have some highly skilled bartenders but most times the hospitality aspect bit is missing. In India, it is so different.
What is the one thing bartenders should keep in mind while participating in a competition? Enjoy the experience, have fun. Because you are in that moment, and you will never get it back. So be cool and give it your best.
If you weren’t in this industry, where would you be? I would be working as a chemist
Your most memorable moment in the bar? This was in Spain, when I opened my first Kazaris Lounge bar – the first day. It was big, a dream come true.
What were you doing before you joined the industry? I was studying biochemistry. Learning things like floral design, jewelry design. I also played the Spanish guitar, I still do. I want to learn how to play the sitar now that I’m here.
Why did you choose this industry? When I was a student, I used to see a lot of people going to bars and restaurants. I wanted to be with these people, and I also wanted to earn some money, so I thought why not be a bartender.
Which is your favorite beverage ad campaign? I’m not a big fan of big international brands and ad campaigns. But one company that has made it big, according to me, is Molinari. They started off really small, and now are spread over 85 countries, maintaining consistency throughout in terms quality of their products. Also, I work with these brands because I believe in them.
Have you served any celebrities while working behind the bar? Yes – Naomi Campbell, Penelope Cruz, Alejandro Fernández and Luis Miguel (famous Mexican singers)
Which is your favorite ingredient while making a cocktail? Just one? That’s tough! If I had to choose I’d go for Ginger because it’s spicy, has citrus notes and is a great ingredient to make a drink.
And your favorite spirit for a cocktail? Has to be G’Vine Gin
Do you like Indian food? I love Indian food! But I can’t really handle the spiciness.
If you were stranded on a desert island. What is that one drink you would like to have? I will have to choose water. While I’m on that island, I could experiment with the water by mixing and infusing some ingredients from the island. Because without water I would be nothing.