If you are tired of your regular mojitos and cosmos, trust the Indian ingredients in the kitchen to revamp your drink.
The concept of a desi cocktail has been in the works since the past couple of years, ever since fusion food came into play. Mixologists and restaurateurs alike have been racking their brains to come up with the perfect concoction to please the palates of alcohol enthusiasts in the city. There has been a growing need to incorporate elements from our country too.
There are just a couple of indigenous ingredients that can unequivocally elevate the levels of cocktails. Adding the element of surprise is one. For classic cocktails, you can make your own variation by using ingredients typically linked to the Indian soil such as jamun, imli, jaljeera and sugarcane, to name a few.
When you add such ingredients, the drinker immediately makes the association of it being close to home — a desi cocktail. Sweetening a mojito with sugarcane instead of the traditional sugar, lends it an interesting flavour that gives the otherwise Cuban cocktail a desi twist.
A margarita is a combination of sweet, salty and tangy, which compliments tequila very well. Making a margarita with aam panna is another example of adding a twist to a drink, without taking away its essence. Another ingredient that is very interesting to play with is the Indian pickle. The use of the tangy, sweet preservatives is a good foil to the spirit, especially one which is flavourless itself, like vodka.
When experimenting with drinks, it is essential to make sure it isn’t too much of a gamble. The use of simple, numbered ingredients should hit the right spot even when experimenting with classic cocktails. Recently, one of my favourite cocktail experiments would be the Negroni with kokum syrup. For a drink that usually contains gin, vermouth and orange, the twist of kokum to it gave it a very fresh flavour.
Putting your own spin on cocktails can be challenging. For instance, a cocktail must be well-balanced. The aim is to have a harmonious blend of flavours, where neither sourness, sweetness nor bitterness dominates. This can also be achieved by restricting the use of multiple spirits or flavours in one drink.
It is a widely known fact that the average human can only detect two to three flavours at a time. A way to elevate cocktails could be by adding a new dimension to it. This can be done with the use of fresh herbs such as sage, thyme and coriander. It isn’t necessary for each ingredient to be unique; the simplest ones can make the best cocktail.
It isn’t too hard to introduce quintessential Indian flavours to cocktails. A little bit of experimenting and creativity can go a long way in curating something that is both delicious and utterly unique.
Jatinkumar Jajal is the head of operations at +91, Mumbai