The cocktail scene in the capital city of Nepal is changing – and could be the start of a new wave of unique experiences. The industry is stirring away the negative connotations drinking has in Nepali society – one drink at a time.

A few years back, consumers were content with mainstream beverages, however, the scenario is different today as there is a cocktail culture brewing in the nation, especially in the major cities.

The trend of people enjoying fine cocktails has grown over time which is pushing people within the hospitality industry to take new leaps toward experimenting and creating exotic concoctions.

That is where the professional bartenders come in, with their high-quality mixology skills and their understanding of the art and science behind a perfect cocktail drink.

Seeking such experts, an event ‘Giffard The Artist Episode 1: The Master Bartender’ took place on March 2, 2023, at the premises of Bitters & Co., a bar at Lazimpat that prides itself as an establishment that serves cocktails exclusively to redefine the cocktail culture in Nepal.

10 contestants were selected from more than 36 submissions who created original cocktails and posted the drink online along with their name, recipe and inspiration behind it.

Aashish Pradhan, Managing Director of Evo Beverages and a member of the organizing committee, stated that artists and those behind the bar have at least one thing in common – the need to constantly innovate since every drink brings a challenge to create something new.

“The cocktails and bartending industry have come to more than just serving drinks or making certain drinks by looking for recipes online. Nepali young minds are creative and they are bringing that creativity in the bartending field as well,” said Pradhan.

23-year-old Rajina Pradhananga, a participant in the competition, said she try to make a new style by learning from other experts and the competition was a great platform for an aspiring and passionate bartender to hone her skills.

Talking about her journey of 5 years as one of the few female bartenders in Nepal, she said, “Initially it was really difficult for me. My family was totally against my career choice as a bartender. After convincing them, it was strenuous as female bartenders are looked at in an inferior way compared to male bartenders in terms of skills and strength,”

“Even after tackling that, in earlier days, it was tough to deal with misbehaving customers who are completely drunk. But now, things are falling in line,” Rajina stated joyously.

Another participant Rai Badshah Kirant, 28, who is also a flairing instructor, said, “We rarely have these kinds of mixology competitions in Nepal although there are a few flairing competitions. The kind of progression of skill, creativity and clarity in mixology these kinds of competition draw out of bartenders is something that we are here for and thanks to Giffard, we got to experience something huge.”

The judges of the event were MS Group Director, Gaurav Agrawal; Agni Group Director, Cabinet Shrestha; Beverage Innovator for Giffard, TJ Anthony; and Giffard Brand Ambassador, Arthur Piffoux.

The winner of the competition was Sagar Singh Bista who walked away with the winning prize of one night stay at The Terrace Resort Lakuri and Giffard goody bags.