CHENNAI: How many cocktails could you possibly make in a minute,” I asked out loud to my colleagues. Confident of my expertise in cocktail making (limited to decent Caprioskas and questionable Bloody Marys), I estimated a generous two or three. You can imagine the shock and insecurity I felt when the result of my Google search ‘World record for the most cocktails made in a minute’ was 18. Even more astonishing was the upcoming attempt by Lingesh Durairaj, beverage manager at Radisson Blu to set a new record.
Excited to witness this feat, I entered Monteith Hall II at Radisson Blu and was greeted by an elaborate bar set-up flanked by a large screen displaying ‘Asia Book of Records’. The air was thick with the sound of electronic beats and bright lights. As if the venue didn’t seem official enough already, I spotted a drone hovering over the bar. Several minutes and the arrival of a stream of people later, it was time for the big event.
Lingesh, in a stark white shirt and grey vest, took his place on the stage, equipped with multiple bottles of alcohol and syrups over a line of tall glasses, coupe glasses, and rock glasses filled with ice. He was to make 21 drinks; several of which looked interesting on the menu — Golden Dram (whiskey, sparkling wine), Martel Sour (cognac, orange juice, sweet and sour), Garden Lactos (vodka, gin, buttermilk) B 69 (cognac, coffee liquor, Irish cream liquor), Madras Kick (vodka, gin, orange, cranberry), Bay Breeze (vodka, gin, cranberry, lime). The attempt would be reviewed by Vivek Nair from Asia Book of Records, and India Book of Records; Sampath Kumar, food and beverage director, Savera group; and Anand Arumugam, beverage manager, The Westin.
Three, two, one…the crowd was going wild as Lingesh hurried from one glass to another. The whole moment was over as soon as it had started and we were left with the view of a rainbow of cocktails. After a prolonged review by the judges, the attempt was declared a success and Lingesh was adorned with medals. Despite the challenge, Lingesh had been confident of his victory, he says. “I have been practising for so many months. You can see my fingers (and the scars on them). I knew I was finishing the task but I was nervous that a glass or bottle might fall down. Thankfully, nothing of the sort happened.”
Lingesh has been in the beverage industry for a decade and has honed his skills in various places, from Alaska to Chennai. “I have travelled a lot. I used to work on a cruise ship and in several cities across India. Whenever I visit a city, I always sit at the bar and learn new cocktails from the bartenders. I keep myself updated,” he shares, adding that he may soon announce something interesting. “I have big plans. For the betterment of the industry, we’ll do something to encourage bartenders all over India,” he hints. I guess we will have to wait and watch.