Indian cocktails today are presented with much dramaThey a refreshing changeBartenders are using a range of Indian ingredients these days
There was a time when cocktails meant getting a round of Cosmopolitan, Bloody Mary, Tequila Sunrise, Margarita, Whisky Sour and other classics. These cocktails had set such a benchmark that trading them to try new flavours hardly saw any takers. Even if the urge to experiment with other concoctions took over once in a while, we would soon find ourselves getting back to the comfort of sipping the classics. But that was then. Now, in the age of mixology, not only are diners warming up to new cocktail trends like nitro-cocktails, smoked cocktails, haute ice, fat washed spirits and the like, but loving the infusion of Indian flavours too.
Indian cocktails today are presented with as much drama and tantalising tasting notes as cocktails done in the West. Not only are they a refreshing change, but it is also intriguing to see familiar ingredients teaming effortlessly with different spirits and creating blockbuster hits. Bartenders are using a range of Indian ingredients such as tamarind juice, aam panna, kokum, masala tea, shikanji, jaljeera, jamun kala khatta, sugarcane juice, gol gappa pani and other favourites to create heady mixes along with an extra dose of nostalgia. Have you tried the golgappa vodka shots, or the sharabi lassi? Have you heard about the Hajmola-tini? They are thrilling and deadly.
Then there is the plethora of Indian spices and herbs that make shaking up cocktails even more exciting – from amchoor (raw mango powder), cardamom, black pepper and curry leaves to gondhoraj lemons, bhoot jolokia and more!
So What Flavours Pair Best?
Rahul Raghav, Beverage Manager at The Bombay Canteen says, “We always find that bright and citrusy as well as fruity flavours like orange and pineapple are a favourite amongst guests. I feel today most of us are using tropical fruits which are locally and easily available along with some spices, herbs and syrups to add depth of flavour. For example, some combinations that go well together are mango and basil, banana and cinnamon as well as vegetables like cucumber and mint, and carrot and lemongrass. Also some of my favourites are using amla, kokum and tamarind in the cocktails. For our next menu we are experimenting with beetroot, fresh berries, toasted rice and tirphal spice.”
Nitin Tewari, Head Bartender at Ek Bar says, “Indians love sweet sour and a little touch of spice.
Simplicity is the key, with a touch of nostalgia. Fresh herbs like mint, basil etc. always works as well as flower flavours. My focus have always been to find new, unknown local ingredients and turn them to cocktails like mango ginger (Amada from Kolkata), kewra, rose water, Coorg coffee and chocolate, etc. In this season’s menu, you will find North East Indian flavours like bhut jolokia, smoked pork, betel leaf etc.”
If you have been wondering what Indian cocktails bartenders across the country are shaking up, here’s a round-up of some favourites out there –
1. Kanji – Ek Bar, Delhi
Kanji is a popular Indian drink, which can be referred to as the ancient probiotic drink. It is made through the process of fermentation using mostly black carrots or even beetroot. Ek Bar’s Kanji cocktail is an interesting representation of the drink, created using in-house beetroot kanji, pickled beetroots, tequila and lime. Some of their other popular Indian cocktails include Anaar-Kali (pomegranate, rose water, star anise vodka and tonic), Badam Milk Punch (whisky, milk, nut and saffron puree, almonds), Ek Bar Chaas (vodka, pineapple yoghurt, honey and orange), Sarson ka Sour (tequila, campari, brown mustard, orange juice and egg white), Murubba Mule (vodka, murubba, bitters, lime juice, home-made ginger beer) to name a few