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Cocktails in paradise with Kamal Kohli, leading mixologist at Radisson Blu Maldives

With World Cocktail Day just around the corner, we sit down with talented mixologist Kamal Kohli to discuss his magical creations.

By Donna Richardson  |  May 11, 2022
Komal Kohli

Where better than the Maldives, with its tropical lagoons, swaying palm trees and air perfumed by coconut, to enjoy an exotic beverage? On Radisson Blu Maldives, there is a talented mixologist called KK, short for Kamal Kohli, who is stirring up quite a reputation for his magical creations, and his Instagram feed has begun to get both local and international attention.  

Kamal came to the Maldives in August after working as a mixologist in his native India, and says that working for Radisson Blu Resort Maldives is an exceptional experience where he is free to express his creativity. He is happiest when experimenting and playing around with ingredients found within the islands, conjuring up cocktails.

Asked where he gets his inspiration to create such vivid artworks from fruits and vegetables, he says simply: “It’s bliss for me to create beautiful cocktail and mocktail. I’m inspired by the works of the best bartenders and mixologists I follow on Facebook and Instagram. There are too many to mention but I will take my hat off to Viju Raj who was my mentor and coach and inspired me to become a mixologist. 

Where better than the Maldives, with its tropical lagoons and swaying palm trees and air perfumed by coconut, to enjoy an exotic beverage. On Radisson Blu Maldives, there is a talented mixologist called KK, short for Kamal Kohli, who is stirring up quite a reputation for his magical creations and his Instagram feed has begun to get both local and international attention.  
Working for Radisson Blu Resort Maldives is an exceptional experience where Kamal Kohli is free to express his creativity

I sat down with Kamal to find out a little more about this talented mixologist, from why sustainability is so important to his dreams for the future.

Tell me about your background. Where did you grow up? 

Everyone familiar fondly calls me KK, short for Kamal Kohli. I was born and raised in a quaint village in Madhya Pradesh, India. My humble parents sent me to school till I finished tenth grade. In my quest for independence, I moved to Goa in search of jobs and later settled in Delhi to work. 

How does it feel to work as a Mixologist in Radisson Blu Resort Maldives? 

It’s an exceptional experience to be employed as a mixologist here at Radisson Blu. I take it as a privilege to work with amazing team who gives me encouragement and full support. The management has empowered me to freely express my creativity, to experiment and play around ingredients found within the islands and come up with cocktails and garnishing that are sustainable, pleasing to the eye and at the same time tastefully crafted. 

cocktail
Kamal Kohli’s journey to becoming a mixologist began in the kitchen as a steward, where he would take longing glances to the bartenders and the bar area

Tell me about how you became a mixologist. 

It’s a long journey actually, my first job was kitchen stewarding, and while working in the kitchen, I would always give longing glances to the bartenders and the bar area. I found it fascinating how the guys were able to have fun concocting different types and colourful drinks. A few months after, I gathered all the courage I had and approached my supervisor, Mr. Shan, and asked him permission to allow me to work an extra shift in the bar to learn the ropes in there even without pay. He was kind enough to give his permission, thus, paving the way to my mixology journey. 

What is the best thing about working as a mixologist? 

Mixology for me is a passion, I love creating cocktails and mocktails from fresh, local ingredients, and the lovely garnishes that I gather from my surroundings, re-using materials or garden flowers, leaves, and twigs. It’s really lots of fun. 

What is the best advice you’ve been given? 

Bartenders should always support local products, neutral sugar, and use fresh, sustainable ingredients. 

If you could change anything about the industry, what would it be? 

For hospitality to focus on sustainability and zero waste, everything is actually useful if we work using our unlimited imagination and creativity. 

several cocktails
Kamal Kohli is stirring up quite a reputation for his magical creations and his Instagram feed has begun to get both local and international attention

Do you drink yourself, if so, what is your favourite tipple? 

Yes, I do drink, I always go for classic Negroni and old-fashioned drinks. 

Do you enjoy making cocktails and if so, what is your specialty? How do you get the inspiration to create such vivid artworks from fruits and vegetables? 

It’s a bliss for me to create beautiful cocktails and mocktails. I would say, classic cocktails and my fresh ingredients cocktails are my signatures. I’m inspired by the works of the best bartenders and mixologists I follow on Facebook and Instagram. 

Who inspired you to become a mixologist? 

Hats-off to Viju Raj – my mentor and coach. 

Have you seen the film ‘Cocktail’? Is that what your life is like? What is it like to work in a bar in a paradise? 

I did watch the film. It is a reminiscent of the beginning of my career in mixology. The bars in the resort here in the Maldives are extraordinary, with the beautiful turquoise water as the backdrop, it makes my creations more distinct and alive. 

What’s the most interesting bar conversation you’ve had? 

Alcohol is the most interesting topic in my bar. I can animatedly talk the whole day about it. Sports and politics are some of the best topics too.

signature cocktails
Kamal Kohli’s inspired by the works of the best bartenders and mixologists he follows on Facebook and Instagram

Who is the most interesting person you’ve met in the bar? 

When I was working in Delhi Town Hall, I met Vir Sangvi (India’s leading food writer and television anchor) and Amil Ali, they are famous people in India, I created cocktails for them, they loved it. 

What is next for you? 

I can envision myself owning a famous bar in my place, where people love to chill out and enjoy the evening with family and friends. 

What is your signature cocktail? 

Luscious, and here is how to make it at home.

Ingredients
Vodka 60ml 
Basil leaf 10 nos 
Vanilla syrup 10ml 
Lime juice 15ml 
Fresh orange juice 20ml 

Method
Put all ingredients together in a cocktail shaker, shake well and fine strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish and enjoy.