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The Rise of the Cocktail – Part 1

From’ Cocktail Ho Gayi’ To #cocktail

Growing up I heard the term “cocktail ho gayi” a lot of times. Guilty of using it also actually but back then it made sense, for cocktail as we were told was a situation where one gets high. So if u mixed 2 alcoholic beverages there was a bright chance you will get “cocktailed”.

Very recently I went to the original KDH or Kake di Hatti close to Tilak Bazaar for the huge Naan bread with Dal Makhani and noticed the beverage menu had “Mojito” rather “Mojeeto” (in Hindi) and it was the most expensive beverage on the menu at 60 bucks, moreover it could be seen on 4 of the 10 odd tables.  Yes, I ordered one and I have to admit it was pretty decent for a Virgin Mojeeto. As I ate my food delicately paired with my Mojito I couldn’t decide if Mr. Richard Drake would be happy to see his drink reaching out the way it has or would it make him sob.

Cocktails have certainly come a long long way in the last decade and a half. In all prestigious colleges teaching B.Sc. in Hospitality, cocktails that were taught were Bloody Mary because it had so many ingredients it was difficult to remember back then, the Cosmopolitan because it was a fancy martini glass drink and the Blue Lagoon which I am certain made its way in cause of its color. Then again, 2 weeks ago I met an industrial trainee from a college in Dehradun at a training session I was conducting and he had a question when I was teaching the Whisky Sour, he asked “what is the difference between a Flip and Sour when it comes to the texture of the Cocktail?”, there was silence in the room.

I could see the blank almost scared/lost expression on the face of the Bar Manager and the General Manager who until then were poking everyone who had asked questions with some witty retorts. I answered with the cream and citrus logic I knew and ‘nog’ entered the conversation. For the 5 minutes while we both were talking it seemed like a ping pong match with everyone ‘wowed’ and just turning heads to look at both of us. Luckily I survived the kid but I felt proud on how much the 21 year old kid knew and was embarrassed to even compare my knowledge back then with his.

Times have certainly changed, people have started moving out of the “whisky -half soda half water” era into trying an Old Fashioned. Even if they make the Old Fashioned, topped up with orange juice and soda I am more than ok with that as long as they add the outlet name in front. At least it’s a move on from where we were stuck for years.

The days when anyone could be handed the bar at the evening briefing are gone, bartending/mixology is becoming a professional’s job and clients have started going out for the cocktails and bartenders and not just to eat. Gone are the days when moving up the career ladder for a bartender meant moving out of the bar and wearing a suit. The same can now be done from the inside which is a great sign.

Slowly but steadily cocktail culture Is entering the market and it’s a matter of 5 odd years when we can not only match but excel the skillset of bartenders worldwide. Indian spices and fruits have flavors which can create concoctions beyond all imaginations. The ‘turmeric latte’ doing wonders globally has been our recipe for centuries now, the punch as we know came from ‘Paanch (five)” and is our creation. It’s a matter of streamlining the process and ensuring that the healthy race continues and we are certainly in good hands. So drink responsibly and don’t spill it.


Suyash Pande