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Day in the Life: Miran Chauhan, Johnnie Walker Princes Street's head bartender

Chauhan starts and finishes late in the day

Published: November 25, 2021
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8.30am

I have a living alarm clock in the form of my dog, Talisker. No matter my shift pattern, he is bang on the money when it comes to his morning walk. He’s a fairly playful hound who loves an adventure, so I tend to take a banana and an energy bar with me round the hills, coastlines and parks of Edinburgh. I am also a keen forager, so I like to pick up wild ingredients all year round from our daily walks.

10am

In true Hobbit fashion, a second breakfast is needed. Usually, Weetabix or eggs with foraged ingredients (wild mushrooms aplenty just now) and a strong cup of tea. I check emails and handovers from the previous evening’s service before making my to-do list. At Johnnie Walker Princes Street we have two cocktail bars with very different personalities, an innovation and training space in the Johnnie Walker Learning for Life Academy, events room and usually some sort of media/marketing commitment during the week. So, I need to keep my house in order.

11am

My down time comes during the middle of the day. I tend to catch up reading articles on the hospitality industry while listening to a podcast. It’s really interesting to see what other folk are doing around the world in creative industries. I come from a product design background and am fascinated by creative philosophies. The bar industry also moves rapidly in terms of trends, so I like to keep myself informed.

12.45pm

I make a light lunch, usually pasta and a piece of fish, along with a bit extra to take into work – you can never guarantee when you’ll get to take a break on service, so it’s best to be prepared.

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1.30pm

The dog gets another short walk before the sitter arrives to keep him company while I’m away.

2pm

I try when I can to walk to work from Leith, which takes about 40 minutes. Otherwise, it’s the bus accompanied by a book or some classical music.

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3pm

Our Learning for Life Academy is part laboratory, part classroom where we have state-of-the-art equipment, but it is also a calm spot where I can catch up with my senior bartenders. This month is all about prepping for the Christmas period. We have a focus on sustainability, and wanted to bind that practice into festive serves. We don’t want to throw our spent oranges away, so we’ve made our own whole orange sherbet. At the moment, we are working on a cocktail recipe with that, Godello wine, Caol Ila 12-year-old whisky and caraway – available in December. We play around with ideas, while catching up with the team. Bar-tending can be a mentally taxing job and it’s important that I make sure everyone is in a good head space with the support they need.

4.30pm

I have the early dinner that I’d prepped earlier.

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5pm

Service begins. No two days are the same. Meeting people from around the world and making their day is why we do what we do. Any breaks in service and I grab a bowl of muesli and a cup of tea.

1.30am

I get home, take the dog round the block, and wind down before bed with a dram.

Gaby Soutar is a lifestyle editor at The Scotsman. She has been reviewing restaurants for The Scotsman Magazine since 2007 and edits the weekly food pages.

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