Tag Archives: Cocktails

The Rise of the Cocktail – Part 1 – By Suyash Pande

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

Cocktail Time – From Phool Gully to Mumbai Sour @ Aer, Four Seasons, Mumbai

[vc_column width=”1/1″]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.

Ashish Sharma - shaking and stirring at the same time
Ashish Sharma – shaking and stirring at the same time

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″]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.

Pineapple King
Pineapple King

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″]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.

Classic Daiquiri
Classic Daiquiri

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″]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.

Phool Gully
Phool Gully

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″]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.

Mumbai Sour
Mumbai Sour

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″]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.

Caramel Julep
Caramel Julep

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″]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.

Mad Dog
Mad Dog

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″]Divyanshu Dwivedi[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Cocktail Time – Cocktail Science – Part 2

[vc_column width=”1/1″]Hello everyone, my name is Himanshu Desai working as a Senior Bartender at Rogue Trader, Dubai and through this write up I’m going to share a few techniques or make some suggestions for creating perfectly balanced cocktails. No I don’t call myself a “cocktail guru” or an expert but I would like to share some of the very interesting facts and techniques I’ve learned over the years behind the bar. Well I believe you’re reading this because you’re already an accomplished person working behind the bar or a person who would like to start mixing drinks. Either way these tips would surely help you to construct your drinks in the best way possible.


Cocktail shaking is a violent activity which is fun for bartenders as well as guests who are watching it. Shaking usually chills, dilutes and aerates a drink in say about 12-15 seconds, after that the drink stops changing radically and reaches the required equilibrium. Shaking for longer won’t hurt of course. Well everywhere we go, bartenders have different styles of shaking. Some even look like they are dancing while doing so which is completely normal as long as you look confident and appear to be enjoying doing it. So yes your shaking style will not affect the temperature or dilution of your drink. Key is to use enough ice as using less ice results in poor chilling and greater dilution.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″]Stirring

Stirring seems and sounds so easy when it comes to cocktails. Isn’t it? But merely spinning the spoon definitely won’t get you what you are trying or planning to achieve. With little bit of practice, you can master the art of stirring cocktails. Ok! So next and the most important thing is to understand when to stir and when to shake your cocktails and to ask yourself a question that what exactly you’re planning to achieve. Stirring definitely helps to maintain the clarity and the flavor of distilled spirit. You must stir when it comes to cocktails like Manhattan, Rob Roy, Martinez and of course an Old-Fashioned. A shaken Old-Fashioned? OMG! I’m sure that you don’t even want to imagine that. Stirring also gives you the better control over dilution and doesn’t aerate your drink especially when it comes to above mentioned cocktails. And now I believe it’s not very difficult to understand why I would not shake those cocktails.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″]Shaking VS Stirring

The major difference between shaking and stirring is texture of the finished cocktail. Shaking and mixing are two intends to the same end. Which is to reduce the temperature of a drink and to dilute the ingredients. Though the purpose is same, the final cocktail would definitely be different. Water plays an essential role in any cocktail. And when you make a cocktail, you introduce water into the drink by using either of these two techniques. I mean of course there are other methods as well like “Throwing or Rolling” your cocktails but to be honest I’m not really a fan of that so let’s concentrate on stirring and shaking. As ice starts to melt in the drink, as per the very basic nature of physics, it chills your drink. So there’s no chilling without dilution.

Both stirring and shaking have the same purpose, still they aren’t identical. Compared to shaking, stirring is a delicate process that slowly chill down the drink but you surely have a better control over dilution. But the common mistakes people usually make are to stir your drink too little or to stir your drink way too much which affects the final character of the drink a lot. Take for example an Old-Fashioned, it’s just whiskey, sugar and bitters. But ask yourself how many bars around you can perfectly balance it? So it’s essential to know the perfect balance.

Shaking at other hand is much more violent activity than stirring. But it cools down the drink so much faster. According to “James McGovern, Head Bartender at Rogue trader, Dubai, 10 seconds of shaking is equal to a minute of stirring. With 20ml water dilution while shaking and 30ml water dilution while stirring.”

So now the question is “Why not to shake all the cocktails and save time?” because shaking actually aerates the drink creating small bubbles that change the overall experience how the drink settles on the tongue. The bubbles will settle down to the surface and disappear, but definitely not before the drink has warmed up too much which won’t taste the way it is supposed to.

So when to Shake and when to stir? There’s no rocket science involved of course.

  • Shake your drink which includes Citrus, Syrups or an Egg-White
  • Stir when you have only spirit based ingredients. Like an Old-Fashioned, Manhattan, Rob Roy or a classic Gin martini.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″]Wet Ice Vs Dry Ice (Ice straight out from the freezer)

Ice is like cold batteries. You need to provide drainage for them the moment you remove them from the freezer. Because if they sit in their own water, they will lose coldness and size of course.

Ice taken straight out from the freezer has a dry surface and will stick to your fingers when touched as ice freezes the moisture on your skin. Ice will get wet if sat in the Ice-well for about 20-30 minutes and will start melting and loses its size and would dilute your drinks quickly. So it’s obvious that the ice out straight from the freezer would dilute your drink slower while shaking or stirring. That thin layer of water on surface of each ice, would add up extra water going in your drink because eventually it’s going to melt quicker.

Well! I agree to the fact that no matter what, we just cannot keep taking ice directly from the freezer every time you want to make a drink. But what I suggest here is

  • Fill up your Ice-Well completely as by doing this, ice will melt much slower than that half way filled Ice-Well.
  • If possible, replace the ice after every hour.
  • While shaking your cocktail, make sure to use a smaller tin to mix all the ingredients in, and a larger tin full of ice and to drain out the water inside by a strainer and then seal the shaker.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″]Reverse Dry Shaking

Dry shaking is a very common technique used when an egg-white is added in the drink. So to start off with, you shake all the ingredients without adding any ice, and afterwards you add the ice and shake again. So basically dry shake helps to emulsify the proteins present in an egg-white and it will aerate the cocktail and give you a very nice foamy texture which looks so beautiful and cocktail becomes smooth on your palate.

So What’s reverse dry shake then?

I’m not really sure where and when it was originated (Editors Note – Tristan Stephenson AKA the “Curious Bartender” came up with the reverse dry shake… – info courtesy Ulric Nijs) . I do remember that couple of years back when my friend told me about it, my reaction was weird to be honest. I asked him why would you do that? He just replied “Because it gives you much better foam and texture.” I was like alright! Let’s try it. But I definitely had to find out the actual logic behind that. And then when I found out, I realized that all of us were doing it completely wrong way all these years.

Reverse Dry Shake
Reverse Dry Shake – Pic Courtesy Tales of the Cocktail

So the reverse dry shake is the same technique but done other way where you shake all the ingredients with ice first and then dry shake.

So basically ice has an habit of knocking out air from the foam so it definitely makes more sense to dry shake afterwards. By doing this, it would surely gives you the much better foam and the texture that doesn’t even need double straining. Try it folks!

By Himanshu Desai[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Cocktail Time – Holi Cocktails and Shots

The menu  is designed keeping in mind that Holi festival is full of colors and sweets and craziness.

Mithai Pista


Vodka   60 ml
Cream  30 ml
Vanilla Ice Cream 1 scoop
Monin Pistachio Syrup 20 ml
Fig 1 piece


Add all the ingredients in a blender and blend with ice. Pour the drink in a pilsner glass and garnish with some shaved pistachio.

Gulab Thandai


Tequila 45 ml
Monin Rose Syrup 20 ml
Chopped Almonds 1 spoon
Garam masala (a pinch)
Honey      Half spoon
Milk     30 ml


Add all the ingredients in a blender and blend with ice. Pour the drink in an old fashioned glass and garnish with some almond flakes.

Mango Mania


Indian Whisky   45 ml
Ripped Mango  10 dices
Sugar granules  2 spoons
Curd    40 ml
Mint Leaves 6


Add all the ingredients in a blender and blend with ice. Pour the drink in cutting chai glass and garnish with some mint sprigs.

Paan Rabari – Serves 3 – Shot


Vodka   60 ml
Rabari  2 bar spoon
Betel Leaves 1
Sugar Syrup 10 ml
Gulkand  Half Bar Spoon


Add all the ingredients in a shaker and shake with ice. Then strain the drink into a shot glass.

Desi Girl – Serves 3 – Shot


Vodka 60 ml
Monin Passion fruit syrup 20 ml
Lime juice 5 ml
Tabasco Sauce   4 drops


Add all the ingredients in a shaker and shake with ice. Then strain the drink into a shot glass.

Liquid Kesari – Serves 3 – Shot


White Rum   60 ml
Kesar Syrup  15 ml
Lime juice   5 ml
Cranberry juice  10 ml


Add all the ingredients in a shaker and shake with ice. Then strain the drink into a shot glass.

Beer Cocktails

International Beer Day was celebrated on August 7th. For us, every day is Beer Day however. Here are 3 cocktails to help along.


Originally a sort of beer-lemonade rumoured to have been invented by one Michel in Mexico, the Michelada eventually had other sauces and condiments added to it resulting in the spicier recipes of today. This is one version.


  • Lager beer                     1 pint
  • Lime juice                      10 ml
  • Worcestershire sauce  2 dashes
  • Soy sauce                       1 dash
  • Tabasco sauce               1 dash
  • Black pepper                 a pinch
  • Salt                                  a pinch
  • Ice                                    to fill glass
  • Lime peel                        to garnish


Build the drink in the glass by first adding all the ingredients except the beer into the glass over lots of ice. Then add the beer, stir gently, garnish with the lime peel and serve.


Beer and orange is a delicious combination. We have made it even tastier with the addition of Cointreau and fresh mint. You may never want to drink plain old beer again!


  • Lager beer   1 pint
  • Cointreau     30 ml
  • Orange slices        3
  • Mint leaves  5-6


Gently muddle the mint leaves in the glass. Add the Cointreau and top with beer. Toss in the orange slices, serve and savour.

Black Velvet

black-velvet-290x195This classic cocktail was first created by the bartender at the Brook’s Club of London in 1861, to mourn the passing of Queen Victoria’s consort Prince Albert. It was supposed to symbolize the black armbands worn by mourners. You no longer need a reason to mourn to enjoy this drink.


  • Guinness stout      1 can
  • Champagne          1 quart


Half-fill the glass with the Guinness. Now gently float the champagne over it by sliding it down against the inside of the glass. Serve immediately.

All recipes, courtesy, the Tulleeho Book of Cocktails.

Drinking Out – Cocktails and Craft Beer in Sydney

Grandma’s – Basement, 275, Clarence Street, Sydney

I swear to you, if there was no Google, then most bars would never be found and Grandma’s is a case in point. A small speakeasy, down a narrow flight of stairs, it was pretty nigh impossible to find. A rum bar it is, and don’t ask me why a Rum speakeasy is called Grandma’s. I’m thirsty and settle on a cocktail called “Made Man” with Talisker, Ron Zacapa 23yo, Sweet Vermouth and Bitters, served in a Coupette. Not cheap at AUD 17 but a treat to drink.


Baxter’s Inn – Basement, 152-156, Clarence Street, Sydney

I first walked into an interesting looking bar called Barber Shop, which seemed a perfectly fine bar, except that it wasn’t Baxter’s Inn, which was my destination of choice. Out of Barber Shop and into a real life hair dressing saloon on Clarence Street, whose staff and patrons pleaded ignorance. I wandered back into the courtyard where Barber Shop was, and decided to take my chance down a narrow flight of stairs, and sure enough there it was, Baxter’s Inn, packed to the brim, with a long bar, packed with bottles of whisky, arranged alphabetically, all carefully labeled and with two ladders on either side of the bar, to help access the higher up bottles.

And as I observed through my stint there, the ladders weren’t only for show. I decided to try my luck on “Dublin or Nothing”, which turned out to be a superbly made cocktail, mixing up Jameson, Pineapple, Lemon, Ginger and Benedictine. I managed to find a space at the crowded bar and placed my order there. Watched the bartenders do their magic, scramble up ladders, listened to some chit chat from my neighbors who were catching a quick drink before hitting the ferry and enjoyed my cocktail.

Frankie’s Pizza, 50 Hunter Street, Sydney

After visiting two Speakeasies back to back, and both of them in basements, it was a relief to walk into Frankie’s located as it was on the street in Sydney’s Central Business District. The décor and menu were all things Italian, from the long strands of garlic and tomatoes hanging behind the bar, to the wide range of Aperitifs available and the Mafiosi who grudgingly let me in. I settled for a mug of Six Strings Pale Ale (on tap) along with a slice of Salami Pizza, to bring my Sydney pub crawl to a close.

Vikram Achanta

Cocktails – Macerados

MaceradosMacerados translates as Macerated in English. It literally means infusion. Macerados are very popular in Latin speaking countries. The story of macerados goes back to grandmas macerating fruits in aguardiente (alcoholic beverage that contains 29%-60% ABV) to make it fruity and mellow. Flavours of macerados can be anything from bananas to chocolate, herbs, spices, wood, tea and many more. In modern bars, bartenders add sugar to extract full flavour of fruits and keep the flavours consistent.


In earlier times, Macerados were used as night caps to refresh the palate after a dinner or sipped straight chilled in a grappa glass. But in the growing cocktail world it is also used in cocktails to replace vermouths, bitters and liqueurs.

A pisco crazy mixologist Miguel Arbe from Ceviche UK in London has gone to an extent that he has replaced most liqueurs and spirits used in cocktails with Macerados based on Pisco. Top Macerados in Miguel’s bar are cereza (cherry), fresa (strawberry) &   frambuesa (raspberry), kion (ginger), ciruela (plum), Aji Panca (a type of Chili Pepper), nasturtium and Pineapple Chilli.

Miguel Arbe of Ceviche
Miguel Arbe of Ceviche

Depending on the flavours it can take from two days to months for a good quality macerado with a person checking it every day.

How to make a Macerado

It’s simple – fill a mason jar with a 750ml spirit like vodka, rum, gin, tequila or aguardiente.  Drop chunks of fruits like strawberries (300 grams) and sugar (150 grams)  (sugar is optional depending on the desired flavour profile). Lid the jar and leave it for 4-5 days and make sure it is air tight. Keep shaking the jar vigorously every day so that fruits and sugar keep mixing to give out the maximum flavour.  Taste it after 4 -5 days. If happy with the flavour strain it into a bottle. Store it in the fridge. Remaining fruits should be picked with the spoon and stored in an air tight container. Unfortunately there is not an overall rule on how to make macerados so the best way to learn what goes well and how to make it is by trial and error. Normally fleshy fruits, herbs and spices (strawberries, lychee, mint, basil, vanilla…) take lesser time to infuse whilst stone fruits (apricot, cherry, plums)  and coffee take a longer time, even months, to reach a perfect flavour.

Sip Macerados whenever you want and use it for flavoured margarita, daiquiri, mojito, caipiroska or martini and many more. The stored left over fruits can be used in the same cocktail or could be eaten after dinner.  Those fruits are very yummy and alcoholic.

Afzal Kaba

Cocktail Time – 3 reasons to drink a Negroni


The Negroni Week, celebrated worldwide from 1st to 7th June has just come to an end. Organized in partnership between Imbibe Magazine and Campari, 2013 was the first year it was held. 2015 saw the Negroni week come to India, with more than a 100 bars across India enlisting. A portion of the Negroni’s sales in the week is donated by the bar to a charity of it’s choice.

Don’t wait till 2016 however to drink your next Negroni. Here are 3 reasons to drink a Negroni tonight!

Dubai - NegroniIt’s hard to make a bad Negroni

45 ml each of Campari, gin and Rosso (semi-sweet) vermouth, stirred together in an old fashioned glass over ice, with an orange twist as a garnish. Even the worst bartender in the world, can’t make it wrong.

It’s adaptable

Itself the result of an adaptation, when Count Camillo Negroni, ordered a Americano, with Gin swapped in for soda, the Negroni is open to change. The Pecore Negrino served up at Goa’s Black Sheep Bistro swaps in Cazulo Feni for Gin, and tastes great.

Pecore Negrino, a signature cocktail for Black Sheep Bistro, Panjim, which uses Cazulo Feni
Pecore Negrino, a signature cocktail for Black Sheep Bistro, Panjim, which uses Cazulo Feni

Show you Know

It’s a great drink to oder, to impress your boss, your girlfriend, the bartender, in short, anyone who hears you! It shows you know your classic cocktails. If you want to act slightly snobbish you can get picky with the bartender on the kind of Vermouth he’s using, as well as the brand of Gin.

Cocktail Time – 3 American Whiskey cocktails to beat the summer

Fruit & Mint Julep

Seasonal Fruit & Mint Julep
Seasonal Fruit & Mint Julep

This is for those who definitely want to taste their whiskey along with everything else. A twist on the official mint julep served at the Kentucky Derby, the fresh fruit makes it delightfully refreshing.

Glass: Old Fashioned


  • 45ml Bourbon or Tennessee
  • 2 slices orange
  • 4 fresh strawberries or 15ml strawberry puree*
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (when using only fresh fruit)
  • 10 mint leaves

Garnish: Mint sprig/fresh seasonal fruit


  • Muddle sugar in glass to crush
  • Add mint leaves, fruit slices (or puree) and muddle with sugar
  • Fill glass with crushed ice
  • Pour in the whiskey and stir
  • Taste to adjust sweetness
  • Top with more crushed ice
  • Garnish with a sprig of mint

*Change fruits seasonally – use semi ripe mango, peaches, plums, pineapple as they come along in place of strawberry

Fred & Ginger

Such a cool summer refresher this. Very simple yet completely delicious with juicy orange and just a hint of ginger to lift it.

Glass: Long Drink

Fred & Ginger
Fred & Ginger


  • 45ml Bourbon
  • 100ml orange juice
  • 1 wedge of lime
  • Ginger ale to top

Garnish: slice of orange


  • Fill glass with ice
  • Pour in the bourbon and orange juice
  • Squeeze in wedge of lime & stir
  • Top with ginger ale
  • Garnish with a slice of orange

Summer Freeze

The perfect way to beat the blistering sun – this beautifully peachy slush spiked with fresh green mint and edgy Bourbon or Tennessee.

Glass: Margarita glass/Bavaria Glass


Summer Freeze
Summer Freeze
  • 45ml Bourbon or Tennessee
  • 45ml Manama peach-apricot crush
  • 15ml lime juice
  • 3-4 mint leaves

Garnish: mint sprig


  • Rim half the glass with salt
  • Fill the shaker half with crushed ice
  • Add all the ingredients and blend it until it becomes slushy
  • Pour it into salt rimmed glass
  • Garnish

By Shatbhi Basu

Perfume cocktail trend gathers pace

The Drinks Business: 15th April 2015

Arnd Heissen, creator of the world’s first perfume-inspired cocktail bar, has unveiled a new list of cocktails based on fragrances to keep up with consumer demand. New on the list is the Dia de los Muertos based on the Bulgari scent Amara, made with Don Julio Tequila, mandarin vodka, citrus, patchouli syrup and orange bitters. The quirky cocktail is served in a red tiki head squashed inside a bamboo lantern.

Cocktail Time – St. Patrick’s Day Cocktails

thumb_Galway International Oyster Festival1_1024The Irish don’t need an excuse to drink, but St. Patrick’s Day gives them just that. Come March 17th, we’re all Irish (and therefore need to try these drinks!)

Cocktails courtesy – Tulleeho Book of Cocktails





St. Paddy's Day Parade - Dublin
St. Paddy’s Day Parade – Dublin

Pineapple and hazelnut? Really? Yes, really! This interesting combination is unexpectedly good – taste for yourself and see.

  • Irish whiskey                  45 ml
  • Hazelnut syrup              10 ml
  • Cointreau                        15 ml
  • Pineapple juice               20 ml
  • Ice                                     to fill shaker
  • Orange peel                     a curl, to garnish

Add all the ingredients to a shaker full of ice. Shake well and strain into the glass. Garnish with the orange peel and serve.

Tulleeho Tip: Try this as a nutty martini by omitting the pineapple juice and serving it in a cocktail glass.

Black Velvet

St. Paddy's Day Parade, Dublin
St. Paddy’s Day Parade, Dublin

This classic cocktail was first created by the bartender at the Brook’s Club of London in 1861, to mourn the passing of Queen Victoria’s consort Prince Albert. It was supposed to symbolize the black armbands worn by mourners. You no longer need a reason to mourn to enjoy this drink.

  • Guinness stout      1 can
  • Champagne          1 quart


Half-fill the glass with the Guinness. Now gently float the champagne over it by sliding it down against the inside of the glass. Serve immediately.

St. Paddy's Day Parade, Dublin
St. Paddy’s Day Parade, Dublin

Irish Coffee

Cocktail legend has it that one Joseph Sheridan, a chef at Foynes Port in Limerick County, Ireland, added a generous dash of Irish whiskey to regular coffee to warm up passengers on their way over to America – and in that moment of brilliance, the classic Irish coffee was born.


  • Irish whiskey                                    60 ml
  • Black coffee                                      1 cup, hot
  • Brown sugar                                     1 tbsp
  • Sweetened whipped cream            to top
  • Instant coffee/cocoa powder         to garnish

Pour the coffee into the cup, add the whiskey and brown sugar and stir to dissolve. Float the whipped cream above, sprinkle a little instant coffee/cocoa powder on top and serve immediately.


Cocktail Time – Holi Specials

Holi is a time of unabated merrymaking and needless to say booze forms a big part of the celebrations. The cocktails listed here are simple yet delicious and refreshing daytime drinks that are easy to prepare and don’t need too much of pre-preparation. Most of them have fresh ingredients as a part of the recipe so that there is still some bit health quotient in them! And needless to say, they’re all colourful.



Fans of ginger, rejoice! Warm spice on the nose and palate is balanced out beautifully by sharp orange peel and fresh white grapes in this contemporary Tulleeho special.


  • Gin              60 ml
  • White grapes         8-10
  • Orange peel 1 strip
  • Fresh ginger 1-inch piece
  • Sugar syrup  10 ml
  • Ice              to fill shaker


Muddle the grapes, orange peel, fresh ginger and sugar syrup in a cocktail shaker. Fill with ice, add the gin, then shake and double-strain into a chilled rocks glass. Serve immediately.

Spicy Tequila Sour

This potent concoction delivers heady heat right up front. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!


  • 45 ml Tequila
  • 6 Lime Chunks
  • 2 tsp Castor Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp powdered White Pepper
  • Crushed ice (to fill 3/4th glass)
  • Lime peel spiral (to garnish)


Muddle the lime, sugar and pepper in the glass. Add the crushed ice, pour in the tequila and stir. Garnish with the lime peel spiral and serve.

Cucumber Mintini
Cucumber Mintini

Cucumber Mintini

For those who prefer their tipple on the herbaceous side, the Cucumber Mintini is zesty and refreshing.


  • Vodka                  45 ml
  • Cointreau     15 ml
  • Cucumber    ½, peeled, de-seeded and chunked
  • Mint            10-12 fresh sprigs
  • Sugar syrup  5 ml or to taste (optional)
  • Lime juice    5 ml
  • Ice              to fill shaker


Muddle the cucumber chunks and mint in a cocktail shaker, reserving a mint sprig for garnish. Add the vodka, Cointreau, sugar syrup, lime juice and ice, and shake well. Double-strain into a chilled cocktail glass, garnish with the remaining mint sprig and serve at once.

All recipes, courtesy, the Tulleeho Book of Cocktails.

Cocktail Time – Kadak Taaza Cocktail Ingredients

For this month’s rambling, I thought it would be good to leave you with some tips on buying / selecting fresh fruits for your next cocktail gig. After all, who would mind the goodness of fresh ingredients in their drink? Here’s my list.

Lime: These are what you get to buy readily with your local sabji wallah. Look for ones that are about the size of a ping pong ball, green in colour and firm. Best used to make a mean Mojito, or to bring about sourness in a classic Margarita or Daiquiri or a glass of nimbu paani.

lime and lemon

Large and yellow. Mostly imported into this country. Look for ones that feel firm and even. Classically used for cocktails that call for gin or vodka and in some cases cognac. A classic Gin & Tonic is garnished with a slice of lemon. Not lime. Or for that matter Campari & soda.

What is the fuss about using either, you may ask? Both limes & lemons yield juice that is very different from each other. Lime juice is pungent, vegetal, has a slight bitter aftertaste and is very tart. Lemons on the other hand are more aromatic, almost floral, the juice is less tart with a slight hint of sweetness. So the next time you come across a bar book that calls for lemon juice in one recipe and lime juice in the other, think twice before substituting one for the other.


A wonderful tropical fruit that makes for great tasting tropical drinks made with rum. Used in the classic Pina Colada cocktail and a host of other drinks. Look for one that has turned into a bright shade of orange with specs of green on the ridges. You should be able to cut into it easily. Best used for drinks that require the fruit to be muddled to extract flavours or blended with ice and alcohol in a blender.


Your quintessential breakfast fruit that has suffered in popularity due to an over familiarity of taste amongst consumers. Who the hell wants to pay for banana’s when you can have acai berries from Brazil, right? Here, too, look for fruit that has ripened to the stage beyond which it will deteriorate if left for another day or so. Excellent when used along with rum or a coconut liqueur like Malibu. Muddle or blend. Be sure to strain well if you opt for the former technique.


One really doesn’t need to be advised on how to buy mangoes! However when using them for making drinks, use very ripe ones (duh!) and better still prepare a puree blending the fruit first and then sieving it to take out the fine fibres. Now use this along with tequila to make a fine mango margarita or rum to make a similar daiquiri or even with yoghurt to make lassi!


Red or green? The former is easier to use! Look for fruit that is smaller in size instead of the ones that look large and glossy. This is one fruit that you should never judge by its cover…or skin! A bite would be better. While using the green version, be mindful of the fact that the fruit wont be sweet and your recipe will have to be balanced with a touch of sugar. Both types work wonderfully well with spices. Red apples work brilliantly with cinnamon and clove whereas the green one takes to vanilla like a breeze. Choice of alcohol could be anything including whisky!

red n green apples

Often the most misused, abused, overused, hardly used etc. ingredient behind Indian bars. The critical thing to remember is that herbs are about aroma first. Taste follows naturally. Muddling mint in a Mojito with an idea to flex your muscles will hardly make for a great tasting drink. Leave that for your mum and her prized chutney’s! Just take a handful of leaves and slap them a couple of times in between your palms. And while doing it you can feel as kinky as you like. Same goes for basil or rosemary in a drink.

(Note: Muddling as a technique needs the right amount of pressure and force that is required to extract flavours and not pulverize the ingredients)

I think this should get you started on a path to attaining cocktail supremacy amidst your peer set. And you can always throw in a bit of your new understanding of fresh fruit jargon while doing so. Nobody would really mind your loud mouth as long as the drinks taste good.

Happy tippling.


Rohan Jelkie

Cocktail Time – Mardi Gras Cocktails Special

Mardi Gras, which literally means Fat Tuesday, is the last day for Catholics to celebrate, before Ash Wednesday, and the start of Lent. It’s also the opportunity for a massive party in New Orleans (NOLA), a city which also has a special place in cocktail history. To help you celebrate Mardi Gras on the 17th of February, we have for you some special cocktails.



A staple on NOLA’s cocktail scene, today, even the glass itself is a souvenir of New Orleans, and servers at Pat O’Brien’s, where the drink was first made will helpfully box yours to go when you’re finished.


  • 45 ml Light Rum
  • 30 ml Dark rum
  • 30 ml Orange Juice fresh
  • 30 ml Pineapple Juice fresh
  • 15 ml Lime Juice
  • 10 ml Passion Fruit syrup
  • Splash of Grenadine


Shake all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and strain into a hurricane glass.



One of the most famous cocktails on Bourbon Street, NOLA. Additional fame came to the humble daiquiri when President John F. Kennedy proclaimed it his favorite pre-dinner drink.


  • 45 ml Light Rum
  • 20 ml Lime Juice
  • 15 ml Sugar Syrup


Pour all ingredients into a shaker with ice. Shake. Strain into a cocktail glass.

Ramos Gin Fizz

Ramos Gin Fizz
Ramos Gin Fizz

Invented by a New Orleans barkeep, this gin drink tastes like a floral bouquet, thanks to the addition of orange flower water.


  • 60 ml Gin
  • 15 ml Lime Juice
  • 15 ml Sugar Syrup 2:1
  • 30 ml Fresh Cream
  • dash of Egg white pasteurized
  • 3 drops Vanilla Essence
  • few dashes of Orange flower water
  • top up with Soda


Add all ingredients, except soda, in a shaker and hard shake. Strain into glass and top with soda.

Cocktail Time – Molecular Mixology

Come 4pm, everyday, the kitchen at the TH (Tulleeho) office reverberates with a constant clanking sound of a spoon being used to whip up what sounds like the greatest omelette ever made! 10 minutes later, with clockwork precision, emerges the frothiest cup of coffee you’d have seen which is hurriedly carried into Boss man’s cabin while the poor accountant is almost dead due to the lack of caffeine! The vicinity’s greatest barista (aka Gopiji) has just made yet another stunning cup of doodh coffee that will put any self respecting server at a coffee shop to shame.

The point of me waxing eloquent about Gopi’s coffee making skills lies in the fact that he puts to use one of food science’s most basic yet difficult to master techniques of creating what may be crowned in a fancier manner as ‘Molecular Gastronomy’. Wait? What? Isn’t that stuff supposed to have smoke coming out of dishes with pureed spinach that looks like olives and tomato soup in the form of noodles? Well, not always. In combining sugar and coffee together with a bit of warm water and then vigorously mixing the blend, the carbs in the sugar and the protein in the coffee combine to generate a frothy texture accelerated by air molecules that get trapped in the mix. Simple, yet very effective.

Molecular Mixology, an extension of Molecular Gastronomy, entered modern bar lexicon at the turn of the last century when award winning chefs like Ferran Adria and Heston Blumenthal worked on serving cocktails that were created using molecular gastronomy techniques. Very soon this trend was taken to the next level by pioneering mixologists like Tony Coniglario in London and Eben Freeman in New York City. Suddenly, instead of drinking a boring glass of bubbly, you could have it with small clear caviars made from Cointreau or a glass of Margarita with an added zing of lime air on top of it! Today, craft bars across the world (and including India) adopt molecular mixology techniques to give their drinks an added appeal. Take for example the ‘Churchgate’ cocktail made by award winning Indian bartender, Devender Sehgal at Ellipsis, Colaba. It is a heady mix of rum, tamarind and jaggery topped up with and frothy air of Earl Grey tea. The Earl Grey air slowly ‘bursts’ as you sip on the drink, there by creating a lovely aroma as well as flavours the concoction. A must try when ever you are there next!

While the terms may sound like jargon, here are some popular techniques that are used by bars to create drinks with a molecular touch.

Spherification: A technique created by renowned Spanish Chef, Ferran Adria, it uses alcohol or juice mixed with algin (extracted from seaweed) which is introduced drop by drop to a bath of calcium lactate or chloride with water to create ‘pearls’ or ‘caviars’ out of liquids. Bars use this method to create garnishes for sparkling wine or serve a portion of the drink in this form on the side.

Reverse Spherification: Here, calcium lactate is mixed with the alcohol or juice and then introduced into a bath of algin. This technique is used to create ravioli sized round balls. Popular for preparing a molecular take on the B-52 shot where In the Kahlua and Baileys is formed into ravioli’s and then allowed to float in a shot of Cointreau or Grand Marnier!

Cocktail Gels: Or also known as Jellification, it is a very popular technique adopted by bars. This is something you can do at home as well. Either gelatine or agar is used along with alcohol or juices to help the mix coagulate into a gel. Depending on the firmness you want to achieve in the drink, you can vary the proportions of gelatine or agar in the mix.


Suspension: Xanthan gum mixed with alcohol or juice is used to create a thick liquid into which fresh chopped fruits are added. The pieces of fruit do not sink into the drink as the xanthan helps in letting the pieces of fruit remain in suspension. One of Chef Adria’s creation is a white sangria with pieces of fruits and herbs suspended in the drink.

Carbonated cocktails: Imagine drinking an Old fashioned or Negroni, that is freshly carbonated with CO2?! This technique is possible by introducing a pre mixed cocktail into an air tight container and then charging the mix with a CO2 capsule. This is only possible in special containers made for this purpose. One such device is the Perlini Shaker.

These are just a few MM techniques that have become popular over the years. Bars also use smoking guns to create smoked cocktails. Smoking, as a technique, is more on the lines of enhancing flavour than it being a molecular technique in itself.

And if you were wondering about the potential hazards of such cocktail, fear not! Molecular ingredients used by bars are all food grade and are stuff that you and I imbibe in various other forms. Take for example Xanthan Gum. Sounds like you might have a stuck jaw after drinking a cocktail made with it! But in reality xanthan is present in readymade sauces to toothpaste to purees. It helps holding water and solid particles together in a thick form. Most Chinese eateries, worth their weight in salt, would use agar as a thickening agent in their cuisine.

Bars across the world are seemingly divided in their approach to molecular cocktails. There are bars that incorporate a great deal of such techniques in their drinks. While there are others who stay away. I, for one, prefer using simple molecular techniques in creating an enhanced appeal in my recipes. Imagine a classic martini served with pureed olives shaped as raviolis on the side. Rather cool, no?

To end my piece, I’ll leave you with a recipe for creating a cocktail gel in the comfort of your bar (or kitchen). Try looking for good quality gelatine (powder or sheets) or agar. I prefer the latter. Usually imported. Agar should be readily available in a high end food store. Incase you are using gelatine sheets, soak them in cold water for a few minutes till they are soft.

Gin & Tonic Cocktail Gel

Premium London Dry Gin 60ml

Schweppes Tonic Water 200ml

Sugar syrup 20ml (to offset the bitterness of the tonic. Omit if desired)

Agar 2.5gms


3 sheets of Gelatine

In a glass bowl, add the gin and tonic and slowly heat over boiling water (a double boiler). Heat till it becomes slightly warm. Now add to this the agar and whisk well to dissolve. Leave this mix in a refrigerator for a few hours till it sets. Cut into cubes and serve over freshly sliced lemon soaked in a drop of cocktail bitters.

Please note: If you are using gelatine sheets, dissolve the softened sheets in 100ml of hot water prior to adding the rest of the ingredients.


Rohan Jelkie


Letter from London – Shreyas Patel

After opening Bootlegger, I further developed interest in mixology and vintage cocktails. Because of this I started to read, study and travel a lot looking for techniques, presentation and even the history of spirits and cocktails. After extensive reading and experimenting at home I first travelled to the US, where I visited bars and speakeasies like The Dead Rabbit, PDT, Employees Only, etc. It was at these bars I realised there was no looking back and I was very keen on bringing the cocktail culture home.

My next journey took me to Europe where I was able to study different drinking and cocktail cultures. I saw, that every bit was important- right from sourcing the ingredients, to the different spirits they use and the final presentation. I learnt a lot from the mixologists and bartenders who had extensive knowledge and experience, and have no intention of stopping until they achieved perfection. I visited bars like Tales & Spirits and Door 74 in Amsterdam, The Hemmingway, Bugsy’s and Black Angel’s Bar in Prague, Le Lion Bar de Paris in Hamburg, Barfly’s Club in Vienna, etc. It was amazing to see how spirits and other elements, when mixed to perfection, can create a perfect balance of senses – the sound of the shaker, the sight of colours and garnish, the aroma and finally the taste of the cocktails. All this contributes to the fact that every cocktail is indeed a story.

While in Europe, I made many friends and contacts in the industry because of which I was lucky and elated to receive an invite to the London Cocktail Week and The World’s Best Bar Awards! The London Cocktail Week is an event where almost 300 bars come together to promote cocktails. Simultaneously, there are many workshops and seminars taking place all over London educating professionals in the business about new products, spirits, techniques, technologies and trends.

In London, I visited about thirty-five bars from the list. At these bars I met some of the best mixologists of the world namely Alex Kratena, Augostino Perrone, Simone Caporale, Ondrej Posphical, Troels Knudson, Marian Beke etc. London truly kept up to its reputation of being the cocktail capital of the world. The bars left me speechless. Every detail was amazing- the bar design, the interiors, work stations, working styles, glassware, bar techniques, equipment and perfect guest service.

Few things I found interesting are:

Hierarchy– This was almost non-existent. Unlike most bars in India, you will see the seniors perform all jobs at their workstations – right from cleaning the area, washing the glassware to helping their juniors out on busy nights. In fact, when we went out to another bar one night, one of my newly made mixologist friends jumped right behind the bar because it got extremely busy, and helped the bartenders out. Apparently, this is very common practice and the mixologists and bartenders have a strong community. This is something I would love to see in India too.

Detailing – Every element of service and presentation is equally important to these bars. It goes beyond making the perfect cocktail. Every perfect mixologist or bartender has a strong personality- he will make good eye contact with his guests, strike up an interesting conversation mostly about the cocktail he’s making, have the perfect methodology, use interesting mixing and garnish techniques. Everyone working at the bar ensures that the guest doesn’t just have a cocktail, but an experience that will last and make them want to visit the bar over and over again.

With Augostino Perrone (Connaught Bar)
With Augostino Perrone (Connaught Bar)

One of my best experiences was at the The Connaught in Mayfair where I had the privilege of having a Bloody Mary with celery foam made by master-mixologist Augustino Perrone. Not only did he make this cocktail, he also spent time giving me ideas and knowledge on bar techniques and mixology.




Another unforgettable experience was my visit to The Artesian at the Langham Hotel- which also won the Best Bar Award 2014. Here, I met Alex Kratena, who made five of their best cocktails for me from their recently launched Butterfly Menu. These were probably the best-presented cocktails I have ever seen. This bar truly takes sensory perception to a new level.

The highlight of my travel was the award’s night where I met the best people in the industry from bartenders to bar owners. The most memorable moment was when I had the chance to meet David Wondrich- an authoritative in the history of spirits who is widely known to start a revolution in craft cocktails.

With David Wondrich
With David Wondrich

Coming back to my keenness to bring this culture to India, we are a country where incense, spices and other interesting ingredients are freely available. At The Artesian, they used sandalwood incense in one of the most famous cocktails, The Camouflage, which not only added character to the cocktail but also took me by surprise!

Finally, I hope to see and experience lots more drinking and cocktail cultures around the globe, and maybe see our very own Cocktail Revolution!

Shreyas Patel

Cocktail Time – 3 Cocktails for Christmas

The cocktails listed here incorporate the quintessential Christmas flavours and are rather easy to make. Rest assured no matter how cold it gets, they will warm you up!

Cocktails courtesy – Tulleeho Book of Cocktails

Brandy Alexander

Brandy Alexander

A variation of the original Alexander (which used gin), this rich Christmassy cocktail is perfect in cold weather and for festive gatherings.


Brandy 45-60 ml
Fresh Cream 30 ml
Creme de cacao 15 ml (if  you don’t have crème de cacao, use 30 ml of chocolate syrup and increase the brandy measure to 60 ml.)
Ice to fill shaker
Nutmeg powder – a sprinkling


Fill a shaker with ice, pour in all the liquid ingredients, shake well and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Sprinkle the powdered nutmeg on top and serve.

Black Russian

Black Russian
Black Russian

The Black Russian is an example of a ‘nail drink’, a drink which has equal portions of a spirit and a liqueur. It makes for a good apéritif or after-dinner drink.


Vodka 30  ml
Kahlua 30  ml
Ice to fill glass
Coffee beans – A few, to garnish (optional)


Add ice to the glass then build the drink starting with the vodka followed by the Kahlua. Garnish with coffee beans and serve.

Dream Cream

Dream Cream
Dream Cream


This one’s nice, easy, and the perfect way to get your after-dinner spirit, coffee and dessert all in one glass. Full paisa vasool!


Dark rum 30 ml
Kahlua 30 ml
Condensed Milk 30 ml
Instant Coffee powder 1/4 tsp and a sprinkling to garnish
Vanilla essence 1-2 drops
Ice to fill glass


Blend all the ingredients (except ice) in a blender. Fill the glass with ice and pour the drink over it. Garnish with a sprinkling of coffee powder and serve.

Cocktail Time – Cheat Sheet: Original Ladakhi Substitutes


Sitting in the remote outpost of Ladakh, we had a lot of time DSC03056on our hands and not enough exotic liqueurs..Our quest for the best bar in the Himalayas made us experiment with locally available ingredients to develop our own substitutes for these liqueurs / cocktail mixes.

Some of them were made by our team and few were the result of helpful suggestions from our guests …Here are the recipes of OLS used in the above cocktails (there are a whole lotta others shud you ever want them):

ANGOSTURA BITTERS: This Bitter cocktail mixture originates in Bolivia and was perfected by a German doc to combat stomach ailments endemic to South America (pretty much like tonic water in India).

Here goes: One quinine tablet (so its a cure for Malaria as well), a few cloves, pepper corns and nutmeg. Pulverise these into a powder. Mix this in 100 ml of vodka. Caramelise one spoon of sugar and add to the mixture. Seal it tightly in a bottle and let it stand for a month before using it.

Some more of a Cheat’s version of otherwise famous recipes!

 Bailey’s: Ok use this one when you are in desperate need for a substitute of the iconic Irish drink! Please remember that we won’t be responsible if you cant seem to float this desi home made Bailey’s right or create the perfect chocolatini out of this!

  •  A cup of condensed milk.
  • 1/4th cup milk
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • A few drops of vanilla essence
  • 90 ml Irish whiskey (or a simple desi one that isn’t to Scottish!)

Mix all the ingredients together by gently whisking it. Best used within 24 hrs when kept refrigerated.

Kahlua Coffee Liqueur: Again one of desi stalwarts pitted against the original…

  • Strong Black coffee – 1 cup
  • 1 Tbsp Caramelised / brown sugar
  • 90 ml dark rum

Gently stir the ingredients together and let it come to room temperature. Alternatively you can infuse a cup of coffee beans in a bottle of dark rum for upto a week and sweeten with ½ cup of caramelized / brown sugar.

Curacao / Orange Liqueur: This a fairly easy one…you might already be a cheat at this!

  •  Half a bottle of vodka.
  • Cup full of Californian orange peels
  • ½ cup sugar

Infuse the Orange peels in the Vodka for about a week and then sweeten with the sugar.

by Vikrant Nath


Cocktail Time – The trouble with sugar – Rohan Jelkie

About a month or so ago a friend posted a picture on Facebook of two shot glasses of sugar syrup – one that had been made with boiling water and one in which the sugar had been dissolved into normal room temperature water. By next morning the post had attracted nearly a 100 likes and an equal number of comments. What is the big deal you may ask? Sure, the pic didn’t have a big bosomed lady holding the shot glasses. Neither has the price of sugar reached anywhere near that of onions or potatoes or what is being made of salt. But fact remains that it did generate a lot of excitement amongst people from my fraternity (including yours truly!). We debated, discussed, opined, experimented etc. So what was the fuss all about?


Lets begin by understanding the origins of this white crystalline substance. The worlds oldest known sweetener is honey. At a time when the ancient civilizations in India were already hooked onto sugar, most of the western world relied on honey. Europe came in contact with this “sweet salt” only when warriors returned from the Crusades around the 12th – 13th century. However the foundations of the modern day sugar industry / trade was laid when Christopher Columbus planted the first cuttings of sugar cane in Hispaniola. By the 16th century the English were hooked onto sugar and went to great lengths to monopolize the sugar trade. This also gave rise to a slave trade. Led to wars. Helped to lay the foundation of an empire. Etc. etc. etc.

Cut to behind the bar, sugar is, in my mind, probably the most critical element (along with ice) of a cocktail that calls for sweetness. Not only does it make for a great tasting drink, it also lends a certain amount of texture and weight to the end drink. It makes up for the lack of sweetness in fruits or juices, it takes the edge off a strong (read alcoholic!) drink and in the right amount and mix is great for the body. What my friend inadvertently did when he prepared the two samples of sugar syrup – one made with hot water and the other one with room temperature water – he ended up creating two liquids that behaved differently from each other despite being made using the same ingredients. The one made with hot water would typically have a heavier mouth feel and appear thicker. And typically contain a higher content of glucose. The one that was made by dissolving sugar in room temperature water would appear to be lighter on the palate yet taste significantly sweeter. This is because this time around, the sugar would have broken down into fructose instead of glucose. And to a trained hand behind the bar this is of vital relevance.

When I prep for dispensing drinks from behind the bar, I prefer to stick to sugar syrup that has been made in a 1:1 ratio of refined sugar granules and warm RO water (sometimes referred to as simple syrup). I then know how much to use while making a drink. And this would be dependent on the levels of sweetness of the other ingredients like fruit juices, flavourings, liqueurs etc that the recipe may call for. I have often noticed many bars miss this crucial understanding and sticking to set standardised recipes that call for fixed amounts of ingredients including sugar syrup. And then you may end up with a drink that is either a tad bit sweet or somewhat lacking in taste. And who wants to pay for one of those?

So the next time you ask for a dash of sweetness in your glass of nimbu paani, pat yourself on the back. ‘Cause you’d be paying homage to one of nature’s greatest gifts to us. And one which you can now see why, was fussed about in the opening lines of this piece.


Rohan Jelkie aka The Thirsty Tippler

Rohan is a beverage trainer for the wines & spirits trade in India and has had experience in running training projects in SE Asia. An ardent fan of the craft of the cocktail, you can be sure to run into him at a bar near by cloaked in his alter ego, the thirsty tippler.


Restaurant Cocktails That Aim Too High

New York Times: October 7th, 2014

All mixed drinks can be divided into two categories: good and not good. A cocktail that you finish involuntarily, that moves to your lips again and again without requiring you to decide to raise your arm, is a good one. A cocktail that you finish because you hate to waste alcohol, or one that you don’t finish at all, is not good. This is the binary theory of cocktail criticism.

Lately, an awful lot of the cocktails I’ve had in restaurants have landed with a splat in the “not good” category.