Friday interview: Carl Brown, Daru-wallah (bar development manager) at Dishoom

Carl Brown, Daru-wallah at Dishoom, tells us about his career and fills us in on what to expect when the excellent new eatery hits the capital later this year.

Published 14th Oct 2016
Updated 8 th Aug 2023

1. Who is Carl Brown and who are Dishoom?

I joined the Dishoom team in 2011 as the resident Daru-walla, which means “the drinks guy”.

I head up the ‘Permit Room’ bars across Dishoom and spend my time delving into Bombay’s immensely rich history, uncovering wonderful stories that then form the inspiration for Dishoom’s drinks.

It’s an endlessly fascinating job, made even more awesome by the constant taste tests with the team.

As for Dishoom – Dishoom pays homage to the Irani cafés of Bombay – lovely welcoming places opened by Zoroastrian immigrants from Iran at the start of the last century.

At their peak, there were around 400 of these cafés, but now there’s only a handful left. Head Babus, Shamil and Kavi Thakrar, spent a lot of time in these cafés as youngsters, and were saddened that so many were closing down.

They really wanted to preserve this heritage and share it with others outside of Bombay. This is the story of Dishoom.

2. When and how did you get into bartending?

The day I turned eighteen I started working in a bar called Benson Blakes under a chap called Tim Blake. I learnt from him that bartending is an art and a continuous learning path. From here I went to work with Sipheng You at The Old School Yard. He is a total bar genius who taught me all my bar skills and pushed me forward in my career.

3. What’s been your biggest bartending achievement to date?

I would have to say my biggest achievement was winning the Young British Foodies’ drinks category in 2014. I created a selection of ‘peg’ cocktails (an old Bombay measurement) served in bottles with chunks of hand-chipped ice.

4. What’s your favourite cocktail?

My favourite cocktail would have to be a Dishoom Viceroy’s Old-Fashioned. We serve it in our Permit Rooms, but I have a special 2-year-old bottle which I’ve set aside for ‘special keeping!’ Alternatively, if it’s sunny, I’ll have a crisp fresh East India Gimlet.

5. What advice would you give to someone looking to get into the industry or step up in the industry?

My advice would be not to run before you can walk. With bartending, you have to master the basics before you can develop your skills.

Michelin Guide 2023: new Scottish restaurants that made the UK list

You have to take time to really understand everything you do in detail. The more you practice, the further you will be able to push yourself later on.

6. We’ve heard you’ve created some signature cocktails for Edinburgh, can you tell us more about them?

Not at the moment! These are top secret for now, but I can tell you that they’re inspired by some awesome historical connections that we uncovered between Edinburgh and Bombay.

We learnt about a Scottish town planner called Patrick Geddes who worked in both Edinburgh and Bombay and we made him the protagonist to our unique Edinburgh story. We also visited libraries, reading rooms, museums, and theatres, gathering all sorts of detail that I then used to inspire the unique drink recipes.

7. What are you looking for from your bartending team in Edinburgh?

Dishoom looks for those who are special, interesting, and different. Those who have a bit of a spark about themselves.

For my bar team, I’m looking for individuals that are absolutely obsessed with drinks and who are totally dedicated to the craft of bartending.

Ubiquitous Chip announce Christmas food and drink menu - including festive cocktails and cosy roof terrace

I’d love to find a team of people who are passionate about what we do everyday and who have a serious desire to build a first-class career with us in this awesome industry. (If this sounds like you, check out

8. Why should people visit Dishoom in Edinburgh?

Dishoom Edinburgh will be a beautiful and democratic shared space where people from all walks of life can come together to enjoy delicious food and amazing drinks.

We think of each Dishoom as a love letter to Bombay and Dishoom Edinburgh will combine our deep appreciation for Bombay, Edinburgh and our genuine love of people. Everyone will always be welcomed with real warmth.

Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.
Copyright ©2023 National World Publishing Ltd
Cookie SettingsTerms and ConditionsPrivacy Policy
crosschevron-down linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram