Everything about Apoorva Kohli, the 21-year-old Indian Awarded as Young Barlady by 50 Best

Alessandra Meldolesi
copertina apoorva kohli

When Apoorva Kohli entered the magical world of mixology, only one colleague in the whole of New Delhi was shaking things up. It was to prove that someone like her, young, female, Indian, could excel in the field, that she honed her skills and stood out in international competitions.

The Story

When one thinks of India, alcohol and feminism aren't the first things that come to mind. That's why the story of Apoorva Kohli, a 21-year-old from New Delhi who triumphed at The Blend Scholarship, part of The World’s 50 Best Bars 2023, makes headlines, opening a new era of accessibility in the industry, as the platform's website narrates. For her, the doors of the world's most important bars open, where she can refine her skills.

Apoorva Kohli

The result is even more striking when considering that until 2007, a woman couldn't work as a bartender in India, as she herself points out: "When I entered the profession, in fact, I never thought of climbing the ranks and reaching such heights." It came as a complete surprise to the person involved, who has been in the industry for three years. "Being Indian, one is deeply accustomed to hospitality because it's a common practice to welcome others into the home. So for me, it was all very natural." In search of her vocation, she initially enrolled in a hotel management course, never thinking she would find herself with a shaker in hand.

Apoorva Kohli 2

Then she participated for the first time in the annual Indian cocktail festival, where she met her mentor, Rohan Matmary, who was then in charge of beverages at Sidecar (18th best bar in Asia), and now manages Trigona Bar in Kuala Lumpur (36th in the same ranking). Noticing her talent, prodded by her passionate curiosity, he asked her to be the first female intern at Sidecar.

sidecar india interior 1

"Back then, I had no idea how to make an Old Fashioned or a Whiskey Sour," she recalls. But the knowledge transfer happened at a brisk pace. After graduation, job offers poured in from the hospitality sector, but she had already chosen a different path: to return to Sidecar as a full-time bartender.

Apoorvas cocktail Bael Brew

Entering a major international industry competition wasn't a choice driven by ambition; Apoorva's goal was to draw attention to the Indian mixology scene, too little known abroad while serving as an example for girls who wanted to pursue the same career. And indeed, hers was interpreted as the victory of an entire country amid tumultuous transformation.

Apoorva Kohli 3

Wine Reporter

show all

We respect your Privacy.
We use cookies to ensure you an accurate experience and in line with your preferences.
With your consent, we use technical and third-party cookies that allow us to process some data, such as which pages are visited on our website.
To find out more about how we use this data, read the full disclosure.
By clicking the ‘Accept’ button, you consent to the use of cookies, or configure the different types.

Configure cookies Reject