Slurrp Exclusive - Myles Caroll On Changing Trends Of Mixology
Image Credit: Myles Carroll

Myles Caroll having worked in the hospitality industry for 24 years, mastering bartending/mixology for over half that—working in various outlets from small family run restaurants to established corporate outlets across the globe has set a name for himself in the mixology world. He first started bartending at one of the top cocktail bars in Philadelphia, trained by his mentor who learned from the late and great Sasha Petraske. Currently as the Myles is DEWAR’S whisky and malts Ambassador India, Bacardi and was also invited twice to the Olive in Mumbai to bring his signature cocktails to the Indian clientele. His passion for whisky is only surpassed by his love of introducing it to people.

What and from where have you received training/experience in bartending?

I worked at a college bar in New Jersey, USA for 9 years, starting as a busboy and bar back, then server, and eventually got promoted to a bartender. These were the years when I learned about hustle and how to be a performer or ringleader, when you’re the bartender you are the conductor of the vibe of the bar. Then I moved to Philadelphia to work at a craft cocktail bar for my friend Dave Tang who was trained by the late and great Sasha Petraske of Milk and Honey, the bar that basically jump started the craft cocktail revolution in the US. I am very lucky to have this cocktail upbringing lineage and I strive to uphold the beliefs that were instilled in me from everyone I’ve learned from. Now I’m lucky enough to be in a position to instill those in the future generation of bartenders in India.

Myles Carroll, DEWAR'S India Brand Ambassador

I believe that the correct food and spirit/wine/cocktail pairing can enhance any experience. Everyone has very different, and rightfully highly subjective tastes when it comes to food and beverages. You could ask the world’s top chef and the world’s foremost whisky expert to create the perfect whisky and food pairing menu, giving them no restrictions on price or ingredient, and you would still be able to find someone in the world who wouldn’t agree with or didn’t enjoy their pairings. Drinking whisky is an experience in itself, eating some store-bought nachos with a DEWAR’S 15 isn’t going to ruin the whisky for me. 

What is your take on Indian audiences and their growing interest in whiskey?

India is one of the biggest markets for whisky in the world and their interest in it is only expanding. I am very excited about the direction people’s interest in whisky is going, especially India’s increasingly growing obsession with Scotch. 

Which are Mixers and garnishes that you can blindly vouch for?

I really like what Svami is putting out, their premium, light, and flavored tonics are great, and their new releases salted lemonade and Jamun ginger ale are super delicious. My favorite mixer at home is DEWAR’S double filtered soda water. Its water is imported all the way from Scotland, which makes the best whisky highball with DEWAR’S white label or DEWAR’S 12 year.

I am a traditionalist when it comes to garnishes. I think the best garnish for most cocktails is a fresh lemon/lime/grapefruit/orange wedge, a peel, or a nice luxardo maraschino cherry. That being said, if the garnish is something really interesting such as a foam, cotton candy or dried edible fruit roll and it actually adds to the experience of the cocktail, I approve.

How do you handle substitutions of ingredients when asked in drink?

My answer is:  I usually ask the person the reason for the substitution first to determine how best to proceed. A guest may have an allergy or dietary restriction, or even if it’s simply a preference of taste I will of course accommodate as well as I can. However, I will explain to the guest that the cocktail may be out of balance if they want to forgo the simple syrup or another ingredient. Bartenders are like chefs; we take a lot of time and trial and error to come up with the cocktails you see on our menus. That being said, our main focus is to make sure our guests are happy so we will always try to accommodate as best we can.

Which are those three places in India that you will go for a drink?

Do I only get to pick three? I’m going to give you five I cannot just pick three in such a large and interesting drinking country. 

1.    Comorin, Delhi: Varun, the head mixologist there is always coming up with amazing house-made things to drink.

2.    Toto’s Bar, Mumbai: This is the first dive bar I went to in India. Coming from the land of dive bars, they always make me feel like home. Thanks Jack!

3.    Tesouro By Firefly, Goa: Shout out to Arijit Bose and Pankaj Balachandran, this is THE bartender’s bar. World class cocktails, superb hospitality, and PICKLE BACKS!!! What more can I say?

4.    46 Ounces Brewgarden, Bangalore: My friend Arne Jach brews the beer here and it is fantastic. If you get the chance go around October, their Oktoberfest beer is the best I’ve had in India. 

5.    Broadway Hotel, Kolkata: A “fancy” quarter bar in middle of the city that has my heart for many reasons (most of my good friends live there and it’s where I met my future wife). There’s no music and the food is ok, but as with most places you go, it’s the people you bring that make the experience. 

Which is your favourite DEWAR’S product and why?

I love DEWAR’S 15 year. As with all our DEWAR’S expressions, it is double aged, meaning we take forty different already aged single malt and single grain whiskies and blend them together; then we stick that blend back into oak casks for a further six months to age again and marry all those whiskies into one harmonious and delicious dram. I love the 15 year because it’s the perfect age for a scotch, not too old and not too young, just the perfect amount of time in the barrels. 

Five top DEWAR’S one should have at home? 

DEWAR’S White Label - for cocktails like the penicillin and highball with ginger ale, DEWAR’S 12 year – for cocktails like plain Dewar’s soda highball, DEWAR’S 15 year – For sipping neat or in a Coconut Highball, DEWAR’S 18 year- for special occasions; drink it neat or with a splash of DEWAR’S soda water

What's your favorite drink to make?

This may sound cheesy and seem like a cop out, but my favourite drink to make is the one that makes whoever I’m making the drink for happy. I make drinks to make people happy and smile. When I’m making a drink for myself, it depends on the time of day, what mood I’m in, where I’m at, and what’s available. I’m not going to order an old fashioned at a beach shack in Goa, I’m going to get a Feni with fresh lime soda sweet/salty. If I’m at a fancy cocktail bar, I’m not just going to get a whisky soda, unless that’s what I’m in the mood for and the bartenders are crazy busy. If a guest wants a hot toddy at 1:30 AM at a bar with techno music pumping, I’ll make them the best hot toddy they ever had just to see that smile on their face. Lastly, if a guest is in the mood for something refreshing and smooth then I’d definitely go for an easy-to-make DEWAR’S Highball.