Walked into this beautiful & one my favourite bars, the open air lounge, AER located on the 33rd floor of Mumbai’s famous Four Seasons hotel. It was Thursday evening & the occasion was a tasting of AER’s new cocktail menu. The evening was hosted by Ashish Sharma, master mixologist from the award winning Manhattan Bar at Four Seasons Singapore, who was also the creator of some of the cocktails in the new menu.
It was a warm evening & hence Ashish served us a refreshing first cocktail called Pineapple King (a Manhattan original), a tropical drink with a Caribbean influence served in a Tiki style copper glass, which resembled a Mule mug. Ashish told us that it is smoked (scented) before serving at Manhattan but we being in an open air bar it was too windy to smoke it & hence he added an incense (Agarbatti) stick on the side to give it a more Indian spiritual touch.
The next drink that i ordered was a classic Daiquiri, one of the best Daiquiris I ever had and just perfectly balanced. Classics are not everyone’s cup of tea, but Ashish made it really well. He also insisted on the fact that its always better to use castor or regular grain sugar in a Daiquiri to balance the sweetness rather using simple syrup.
The 3rd drink served to us was really interesting as it had the complete Mumbaiya touch , named after the famous Phool gully (flower market) in Dadar, Mumbai. The drink had tequila, home made hibiscus syrup & triple sec. It was a twisted version of the Margarita served in a rocks glass garnished with some nice edible flowers of which no one knew the name including our mixologist. Here Ashish insisted that it is always good to use home made syrups in the drinks rather using the flavoured syrups available in the market & he also mentioned that all the bars in the Four Seasons group always use their own house made syrups.
Our fourth drink was a tribute to The Gateway of India. It was a twisted whisky sour renamed as “Mumbai Sour”. The drink contained Canadian club whisky, mulled wine & egg white. Ashish told us that egg white has been one of the favourite ingredients of some of the world’s famous bartenders as this is an ingredient which gives consistency, mouth feel & body to a drink . The picture of the Gateway of India which Ashish carved using egg white foam on top of the drink was the real eye catcher. His secret behind the pic was a stencil in the shape of the monument which he did not reveal but I managed to sneak a glimpse from outside the bar while he was making it.
The next drink had a peculiar American touch, called “Caramel Julep” influenced by the famous Mint Julep. The drink contained Jack Daniels, salted home made caramel syrup & vermouth infused with some Indian spices (Ashish did not reveal the names of the spices), served in a mini balti (bucket) shaped copper mug, with Cadbury’s Eclairs floated on top as garnish. Ashish said the caramel based drink will taste awesome when you will have the toffee rolling & melting inside your mouth.
Ashish wanted to end the evening on a high note & hence the last drink he made for us was the most potent of the evening called “Mad Dog” ( An Irish-American assassin) the drink combined Jameson, Grand Marnier, absinthe, Luxardo maraschino & Peychaud bitters. Being potent in strength Ashish said its best drunk on the rocks (poured little by little over two cubes of ice) & remaining was kept on the side in a skull shaped flask with a cork stopper to keep the aromas & flavours intact. Ashish shared an interesting trend here that the cocktails which are all about aroma & flavours should never be served at one go, ideally little quantity should be poured in the glass & the remaining should be served on the side in a closed/air tight flask because serving such drinks at one go might cause them to loose their flavours & get diluted fast after coming in contact with the air & ice.