Cover Sandeep Hathiramani is a born-and-bred Hongkonger (Photo: Gavin Yeung/Tatler Dining)

In the fourth episode of this video series, the accomplished barman recounts his third-culture upbringing through tea-forward cocktails

While chefs are often celebrated in grand oeuvres and Netflix documentaries, bartenders, despite their careers being predicated on interacting with the public, don't often get their dues when it comes to pop culture. Through The Stirring Glass is a video series by Tatler Dining that aims to flip this script on its head, with a look at the life and careers of six Hong Kong bartenders, each of whom captures their experiences in three cocktails made for the camera. From childhood memories to getting their start in the industry, all the way up to the current day, watch as Hong Kong's best mixological minds recount their journeys so far through the bottom of a stirring glass.

Growing up in an Indian family in a Kowloon public housing estate before moving to Australia for his studies, Hong Kong-born and bred Sandeep Hathiramani is the dictionary definition of a third-culture kid. Known to many in the bar and nightlife industry simply as S.R., Hathiramani's jovial presence has endeared him to many a peer and patron alike—indeed, his bartending ethos is a vindication of the belief that it's the service, not the drinks, that keep people coming back to a bar.

Like any good barman, Hathiramani is multi-faceted, having worked at nightclubs and in PR agencies in the nine years since he returned to Hong Kong from university. Though he has been involved in all aspects of the bar industry, from sourcing and distribution as Proof & Company's deputy general manager, to serving drinks all across the city, it wasn't until a business trip to Mumbai where he found himself drinking masala chai with fellow Hong Kong-based bartender Gagan Gurung that the duo hatched the idea of opening a tea-centric cocktail bar together.

Related: Tell Camellia’s Sandeep Hathiramani On Why Tea Is A Quintessential Hong Kong Ingredient

Tell Camellia opened in summer of 2019, bringing a menu dedicated to various tea-drinking cultures from around the world. That a third-culture kid should be one of the driving forces behind a bar that takes inspiration from geographies as disparate as Turkey, Brazil, Nepal and Thailand is strangely fitting. Hathiramani and Gurung's efforts paid off in May of this year, less than two years after opening, when Tell Camellia debuted at #23 on Asia's 50 Best Bars for 2021

More recently, Hathiramani has been focusing his efforts on neighbouring bar The Wise King, a fellow Asia's 50 Best Bars honouree at #28 that was co-founded by veteran bartender Sandeep Kumar (they are jokingly referred to among regulars as Sandeep Squared). Hathiramani hasn't stopped there, having also co-founded The Bar Awards HK & Macau as well as Gin Festival HK.

In between ideating new cocktails, consulting for other bars, and tending to Archie, his adopted Corgi puppy, Hathiramani caught up with Tatler Dining to fill us in on the role of tea in his childhood, his go-to cocktail for celebrations, and riding out the turbulence of the past two years.

Watch the rest of Through The Stirring Glass here.

Sandeep's Cocktails

Sweet Chai O' Mine

Milk-washed Darjeeling tea vodka, honey, lemon

New York Sour

Bourbon, lemon, simple syrup, egg white, red wine float

Bitter & Better

Pistachio-infused N.I.P gin, Fernet Hunter, Rinomato Bianco, grapefruit zest

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