INTERVIEW: The Huddle's Vikram Odedara

Citymax Hotel Bur Dubai's Vikram Odedara on creating his own style

Vikram Odedara, bartender at The Huddle in Citymax Hotel Bur Dubai.
Vikram Odedara, bartender at The Huddle in Citymax Hotel Bur Dubai.

Citymax Hotel Bur Dubai's Vikram Odedara on creating his own style:

Tell us a bit about yourself?
I was studying for a hotel and tourism management degree in Mumbai, which I started in 2008. While there are different areas in the hotel industry to focus on, I decided I wanted to specialise in bartending within the F&B section. I completed my degree, specialising in bartending with cocktails and drinks in 2011, and then joined the university as an assistant manager and trainer for the same degree. I did that for the last two years.

How did you end up at The Huddle as its bartender?
I have wanted to work in Dubai for some time, so I quit my job and arrived in the UAE on February 27 on a visit visa. It was my first time in the country. I lived in the area at the time, and passed by The Huddle, so I entered the bar and was given the chance to do a walk-in interview. I was wearing three-quarters, flip flops and just had my resume. I didn’t have a plan as to what I was going to do and just decided to try my luck. I was asked to create two original drinks, which I did. I also flaired with four bottles. I got hired and started working here on March 26 — just a month after I arrived.

We heard you don’t drink - is that difficult in this job?
No, it’s not difficult. I have tasted the alcohol, but I have never drunk any. There is a difference between tasting and drinking, right? The maximum I’ve ever had is one or two ml. In my family, everyone is vegetarian, and alcohol is not allowed at all.

How did your family react when they found out you wanted to be a bartender?
I started bartending out of my own pocket money — my family did not know. After I completed my degree and could flair in a great way, I recorded myself and showed the video to my family. They said it looked nice but asked me why I chose this path in my career. I told them I am interested in the work carried out in a bar.

What are your specialities within bartending?
Flairing and cocktail mixology. When I was studying, I practised flairing for eight hours a day. What you see when I flair is my own style, with self-choreographed steps, and a maximum of four bottles. When it comes to creating drinks, if I am given any ingredient, no matter what it is, I will make a cocktail. The ingredients can be anything — whether it’s honey, cinnamon, pepper, cloves, jaggery or tamarind. I come up with the recipes myself — you will not find these anywhere else.

What’s your favourite drink?
My favourite is my own creation — the Huddle Delight. It’s a very nice cocktail with Jack Daniel’s and hazelnut, which is a good combination. It also has honey and vanilla ice cream. It’s part of the ice cream cocktail series I created for The Huddle.

What’s next for you?
My dream is to be the best bartender in the world and I want to work in Las Vegas. I want to win the Heineken Star Serve Global Bartender Competition this year. If I win in Dubai, the finals are in Amsterdam on November 25. I want to win first place, I want to be the best.

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