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Crafting Elixirs and Tales: The Journey of Merrick Philip Rodriquez

Favorite Bar: Sidecar, but his heart will always be with Ellipses
Favorite Drink: 1944 Mai Tai
Favorite Non-Alcoholic Drink: Kombucha or Thums Up

If 14 years in the bartending industry has taught Merrick Rodrigues anything, it’s the necessity to adapt to the ever-changing industry. A veteran bartender, Merrick has seen it all. He recalls the days when guests would simply as for a cocktail to be a little sweeter or for a little more ice. Then, he explains to us how, today customers have elevated their palates, and exposed themselves to global culture such that they are able to order hyper-stylized drinks with no fizz or more sourness and less tanginess.

He has kept up – because just as the audiences now widen their perspectives, so many bartenders. Now, he is not just any ordinary bartender. Merrick knows that if you’re a bartender, you can do more than just manage a bar and make a drink. The job isn’t unidimensional. Rather, if you’re good at your job you will find a way to take your skills and translate them into other ventures. Merrick is perusing distillation right now. As he does so he is also starting a venture with Kombucha. The story starts with his position as a bar manager in Bombay. He felt the need to learn something new and with flexibility. The closest thing that was attainable was to get into a microbrewery, so he could learn how beer was made. As he delved deeper, he realized that starting a liquor brand was fantastically expensive. But non-alcoholic sectors, are exempt from excise. He knew the importance of finding his own niche in these competitive markets – and he really did, settling on Kombucha. That is how Synergy Cultures was born.

So, what we have right here is a man of many talents, but no matter what his next big step will be when Merrick’s asked what he does for a living, he says he’s a bartender – because that’s the skill set that puts food on the table. He firmly believes that you can make anything a career today as long as you’re good at it. He explained that when you think multidimensionally you start to notice the expanse and spectrum of your vast clientele. Once you realize that they can be possible investors then you can biforate into numerous avenues like equipment manufacturing, aprons, and beverage marketing.

With over a decade of practice under his belt and a fond love for a well-made 1944 Mai Tai, Merrick still embarks on the search for a signature cocktail. According to him, it keeps changing. So does the industry – in the last 3 or 4 years the industry has become increasingly welcoming and definitely more inclusive. He states that everyone is welcome as long as there is a little spark of passion.

Passion really is the key to his book. The work timings average to about 10 hours a day and depending on the establishment the range of people you serve per shift goes from 20-500. There is prep and cleaning that everyone forgets to account for as part of the job. This is not an industry of flowing alcohol. Competition and talent in the industry are at an all-time high. People are starting to understand the importance of being technique-driven and ingredientfocused with their craft. Merrick says that when your passion dies, then you’re just taking up space.

His passion burns bright and he hopes to launch his own brand one day. He credits his mentor, Shatbi Basu for counseling him and making sure he was on the right. Ms. Basu is not just one of India’s first women bartenders but also one of the first women to create her own school and to be officiated by the single malt association. She gave him advice without the bias of whether or not it benefited the industry or the company. Well, her advice worked.

Right now, Merrick is very well-established and respected within the industry. He cautious novices to understand their limits when they are getting started. It’s exciting to start something new and often you dedicate hours towards it – trying new drinks, experimenting with flavors, finding your styles – but don’t get carried away. Know the distinction between spirits and learn the classic cocktails impeccably well, and after that, with a little perseverance, success will come.

It was a pleasure to listen to and understand not just Merrick’s worldview but also deep insights into the industry. We know we are going to see him through his numerous successful ventures.