Behind the bar with…Devender Kumar

Hong Kong’s beloved bartender, Devender Kumar has headed up 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana’s upscale bar since 2013. Originally from New Delhi, Devender started out with Taj Hotels in Delhi and Mumbai before being awarded India’s World Class bartender of the year in 2012. In 2015 he also won Barcardi Legacy with his signature drink, ‘The Optimist’ using Bacardi Carta Blanca, ginger and honey syrup, lime juice and basil. He chats to dbHK about the versatility of gin and his love of cairpirinha.

devender-kumarWhy did you choose to be a mixologist?

Bartending happened to me quite by chance. At the behest of my mother, I learned flair bartending as she wanted me to have a professional skill. And over the years I have moved on from flair bartending to mixology, which I immensely enjoy.

Which spirit ignited your passion?

Gin! I love gin as it’s very versatile in its own way. You can drink it with a mixer, tonic water, make cocktails out of it or mix it with other alcohol. And it has come roaring back into fashion. Consumers and bartenders are rediscovering the pleasures of gin in drinks and this is what excites me about the category.

What are the best and worst things about the industry?

Everyone is entitled to their opinion about the industry they work in. In my opinion there are difficulties within any field you choose to work. But if you love what you do, the difficulties don’t matter. I absolutely love and adore being a part of this industry. The best thing that I like about hospitality is that you get to meet new people every day. And that gives you an opportunity to be a part of their celebrations, helping create the perfect moment for them. You also get to travel and experience new places and its culture and people.The one drawback about the industry is perhaps the late hours at work and the fact that you get very little time for yourself.

If you had to be a particular cocktail or spirit which one would you be?


Lime or lemon?


What are your favourite seasonal cocktails?

I like passionfruit and watermelon. Something like caipirinha with passionfruit and pink grapefruit juice is something I’m always up for.

Where is your favourite place in Asia for cocktails?

I like Hong Kong and seeing the rapid growth of it. Apart of that, I really want to visit Singapore again and I would like to experience hospitality in Japan – a place I haven’t been to yet.

Name one cocktail trend which is hot in Asia right now

Low alcohol by volume cocktails. For example, Sherry or Lillet Blanc can be great as a base for many amazing cocktails.

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