Rakshay Dhariwal: The Man Who Has Been A Trendsetter Of Sorts
Image Credit: Rakshay Dhariwal

Rakshay Dhariwal, the name is synonymous in the beverage and FnB world. His brand Passcode Hospitality, PCO has been the iconic brand which just completed 10 fabulous year. Dhariwal’s focus has always been to give the market some of the best brands or giving the market something different like the agave liquor. With brands like brands like Jamun, PCO, Ping's and Saz, and a total of 17 outlets restaurants across India, he surely has got his game right. 

In a quick chat with Slurrp read his views here

You are literally a trendsetter in the FnB world. To reach here how was the journey?

I entered this business 10 years ago because I was able to identify needs in the market—concepts and restaurants that did not exist or were under-represented. In fact, each one of the Pass Code Hospitality F&B brands was developed with the purpose of creating something new and presenting something new to the market. PCO was the first speakeasy-style cocktail bar in the country, ATM was the first of its type private member’s supper club, Ping’s takes a healthy twist on south east asian food, Jamun brings recipes from all over India under one roof and SAZ presents contemporary American food in a gourmet yet wholesome way. Each of these brands was developed based by identifying gaps in the market and then figuring out how to fill that void. 

•What is about Goa that you like vis a vis Delhi when it comes to food and food enthusiasts?

Both cities are great food destinations. Delhi has always been thought of as being a foodies paradise, but during the pandemic many chefs and brands flooded to Goa and the breadth of restaurants that have opened there is just incredible. Because of overall climate and culture that Goa affords, the state has become a center of culinary innovation and experimentation. It is exciting to see what this season will bring. 

•Jamun, PCO, Saz and more; what goes into conceptualizing some of the most successful brands

In my opinion, brands have to be dynamic and interesting. It is important to stand for something specific and continuously deliver that and to keep innovating simultaneously. Also, we make sure that each of our brands has its own set of brand rituals that keep it unique and fresh. So be it receiving magic towels at Ping’s at the end of the meal, or getting served a totally unique three-tier Chutney Charley at Jamun, or using cork coasters with funny quips on them at SAZ, or ordering our trademarked ‘Mood Cocktail’ at PCO each brand has its own USPs. 

•Post pandemic what has been the comeback mantra

Go. Go. Go. For us, the pandemic was a time to pause and reflect and strategize. We used it as a time to regroup and over the past 12 months we’ve expanded significantly on the west coast of India—including 4 restaurants in Mumbai and 2 in Goa. 

•PCO, the cocktail bar just completed 10 years, did you vision it completing 10 years and what has been your fav cocktail from the place?

We are very proud that PCO has finished 10 years. It’s not all that common for a bar to stay current for over a decade and we’re very fortunate to make it to this milestone. Our secret is very simple—serve great cocktails to people who appreciate them and that has stayed the same since day one.  Our mixologists have always been some of the best in the business and we’re very excited about our new menu which celebrates each of the years we’ve been open. I myself have always been partial to the old-fashioned, though recently I prefer my Old Fashioned made with Pistola 100% Agave. 

•Where did you get your inspiration for serving Raki at your Mediterranean rooftop resto-bar

Both me and our Executive Chef Picu have travelled to the Mediterranean a fair amount and we both really enjoy the way Raki is consumed in Turkey and the wider middle east. It is a great spirit that has a lot of flavour and can hold its own in cocktails as well as shots. 

•What is your focus for the Indian FnB industry for the coming years? And what new project do we get to see in future?

We are focusing on bringing our brands to new geographies both domestic and International. We have plans to open a Jamun abroad and expand Ping’s aggressively in India. We are also launching a new brand in Pune and we hope to scale that out across India as well.