Bartending is a way of life for globe-trotter Ron Ramirez. Now in India for a stint with Finch Bar and Restaurant in Mumbai and Chandigarh, the master mixologist speaks to Juveria Tabassum on his dedication to the art of hospitality, the culture of bartending, and tells us what fancy drink goes best with the humble papadams.
Ron Ramirez was supposed to be a pilot. While studying aeronautics at Emirates University in Dubai, he began supporting himself as a bartender, and was, in his own words, lured into the hospitality industry. “I was bitten by the bug in a way,” he laughs, adding that he decided to do a bachelors degree in hospitality, and then moved to Milan, Italy to practise bartending. There, the prestigious Armani club recognised him as a mixologist, making Ron a celebrity in Italy in no time. Ron also studied hospitality further in Germany and tried his hands at interiors in the F&B industry in Thailand.
Recognition only drove Ron to explore the market and mixology further, and he now has an impressive list of titles to his name. The seasoned bartender and trainer, who is part-Thai, and part-Filipino German, calls Bangkok his home. Having traversed the globe on a career that has spanned across 15 years and 13 countries, including his latest expedition in India, mixology has now become a stage name for Ron who says he loves conducting training and developing talent. “I feel happy when I see a person who nourishes themselves in their chosen career. Some of the talent that I have groomed have become quite famous. This is the greatest joy that I can get,” he shares.
Plans for Finch
After having worked at Michelin star restaurants and earned the title of the youngest general manager in the industry in Thailand at Anantara Resort, Ron took up the task of working on an independent restaurant in India, developing and launching Finch Mumbai during the lockdown, and throwing open the branch at Chandigarh once restrictions were lifted. Ron is on a committee called World’s Best Bars, which identifies bars across the world, and positions them in the market as the best bars under different criteria. He works as a corporate director for bars, and is a strategic advisor for Finch, rebranding it in Chandigarh and Mumbai, with one due to open soon in Bangkok.
The menu is changed quarterly according to the demands and trends, and the chain has already developed its own mixology culture, and is being positioned among the world’s top 50 bars. “At Finch,” says Ron, “we like to draw from and flirt with classics. Drinks are derived from classics and we incorporate our mixology in a fusion.”
Chandigarh Calling: “Chandigarh and Mumbai are different in their own way. Mumbai has a relentless cosmopolitan energy, whereas Chandigarh charms with its peace, calm and quiet. Although it requires development, Chandigarh is my favourite city right now because of its laidback lifestyle and of course the lack of traffic. Mumbai is fast paced. I used to live in that kind of brutal environment in Milan and Bangkok, and Chandigarh is a nice change.”
India in the Mix
Ron believes that India once had a good crop of seasoned bartenders and mixologists who were driving a progressive industry, but have since migrated to greener pastures in the last few years. “My staff in Dubai, Hong Kong and Germany was led by Indians,” says Ron, rueing the fact that the scene was quite meek when he landed in India in February last year. However, the pandemic has seen many of these professionals move back home, and that, Ron believes, gives India a chance to deliver its own identity in the mixology arena.
Ron Ramirez’s Perfect Mixes for Indian Cuisine:
- Chicken tikka masala + classic old Magroni Why: “Italian national cocktail, Magroni is as strong as chicken tikka masala in terms of flavour. Italian mixology and Indian cuisine is a good mix, since they’re both strong and don’t overpower each other.”
- Butter chicken + Old Passion Why: “The British whiskey-based drink is strong and bold and highlights the chicken”
- Papadams + Champagne and white wine Why: “It is a unique combination for a unique dish. Goes well in a social environment.”
- Kashmiri lamb curry + Vodka Martini Why: “I had the curry recently and completely fell in love with it. Vodka clears palate lets you appreciate the flavour of the lamb.”
- Samosa + Mojito Why: “It is just the perfect combination for a lazy evening snack on a weekend.”