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Diwali 2022: Drinks with a festive twist

Mixologists are shaking things up with cocktails flavoured with spices, paan and kaju katli

A Cup of Indian Tea at Trèsind.

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It’s that time of the year again when homes are lit up with diyas and fairy lights, and family and friends get together over fancy tipples and decadent mithais. As many restaurants and hotels introduce innovative ways to lure clientele during the festive season, the focus on experimenting with distinct flavours, ingredients and storytelling around cocktails has taken center stage.

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“For Diwali, we are not only experimenting with a variety of ingredients, but also bringing cocktail artistry to your table at our newest restaurant, Alta Vida. Choose your white spirit from an array of pre-infused bottles of flavours, like coffee, pepper, lavender and more, and a mixologist will make the drink right before your eyes," says Shri Raj Goswami, restaurant and bar manager at The Ritz-Carlton, Pune. The live cocktail experience starts from 22 October.

At Trèsind, Mumbai, Mandar Kumthekar, bar supervisor, is experimenting with a cocktail centered around tea. The blend is called A Cup of Indian Tea which is a mixture of gin, fresh pomegranate juice and chaat masala. The drink is served in an intricately designed Bone China cup and saucer. The signature cocktail is available between 22-30 October. “In India we welcome guests with a glass of water and a cup of tea. Tea always becomes part of a conversation amidst all the celebrations," explains Kumthekar.

Apurav Bhatia, beverage manager at Conrad, Bengaluru has created three cocktails using jaljeera, kokum and almonds to rekindle childhood memories. While the Jaljeera Smash is a mixture of grain vodka and jaljeera powder, the Kokum Sour blends Indian gin and kokum sharbat. Both these cocktails use lime juice and chilled soda or water to top up.

The third drink, Rhum Badam Punch (almond milk), is inspired by the tradition of eating soaked almonds in the morning. The cocktail has crushed almonds, pistachios, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and star anise topped with hot milk. This is blended with dark rum, curdled with lemon juice, strained with a cheese cloth and left to chill. Then it's garnished with saffron and served in a tiki glass. “All three cocktails instantly transport you to your childhood home filled with family and friends," believes Bhatia. The signature cocktails will be served at the Lobby Brew at Conrad, Bengaluru during the Diwali week starting 22 October.

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At Dobaraa by Bellona Hospitality, Pune the festive ingredient is curry leaves. They’ve concocted an uplifting rum-based cocktail named Southern Mystery with curry leaves and fresh pineapple for Diwali. The drink is available between 22-30 October.

Southern Mystery at Dobaraa by Bellona Hospitality, Pune.
Southern Mystery at Dobaraa by Bellona Hospitality, Pune.

During the festive season, spices are added to cocktails for a desi twist. The Golf Bar in ITC Maurya, Delhi will serve an elegant cocktail with saffron-infused vodka, lemon juice, rose syrup and sparkling water. The limited edition drink is available between 22-30 October.

Raj Kadamuturu, assistant director of food and beverage, The Westin Pune Koregaon Park has created a Diwali-special cocktail with whisky. The recipe has whisky, dry vermouth and amaretto syrup finished off with cinnamon smoke and garnished with cinnamon stick served in an old-fashioned glass. The drink is available at Asilo, a high energy bar and lounge between 22-30 October.

What’s Diwali without sweets? The Bengaluru cocktail bar, The Reservoire, draws inspiration from the mithai box. They have a kaju katli-flavoured and whisky-based cocktail and saffron martini which are presented artfully in a wooden tray with motichoor ladoo covered with a wafer-thin silver foil. There's also a paan gin and tonic blend laced with betel leaves and gulkand flavours. "You will not only celebrate the flavours of Indian mithais in a glass, but the way the cocktails are presented is a feast for the eyes”, says Prathik Shetty, founder, The Reservoire, Bengaluru.

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