Beat the summer with seasonal fruit cocktails, and cognac iced tea
An 'aam panna' with a white spirit, be it white rum or vodka, goes really well, and so does lychee and phalsa-based cocktails
When it comes to refreshing cocktails for the hot and humid months, the possibilities are endless, says chef Manu Chandra.
“White spirit concoctions, such as a mojito, a caipiroska or a margarita, are really good and refreshing summer cocktails," says the chef partner, Toast & Tonic, The Fatty Bao, Olive Beach, and executive chef, Olive Beach.
Chandra believes all tropical islands lend themselves to great cocktails that incorporate fresh and seasonal ingredients. “I don’t have a memory of a good summer cocktail in New York, for example," he says.
Tropical fruits like mango and passion fruit work superbly with cocktails. “Within India, in the summer months, I think an aam panna with a white spirit, be it white rum or vodka, goes really well. If you are in northern India, this is also the time you get phalsa (a kind of berry), which is extremely good in cocktails with some salt and white spirits, a phalsa margarita or a phalsa martini, for example," says Chandra.
Go further north, to the hills, and you will see lovely rhododendrons, a flower that works really well in cocktails. Go east, to the Gangetic belt, and the most ridiculously sweet lychees will be there to greet you; these, mixed with some lemon leaves or mint in a white spirit, topped with soda over ice, make for a refreshingly unusual cocktail. In the south, you will find evergreen ingredients such as kokum and ginger. Chandra shares three of his favourite summer cocktails recipes.
Ingredients: 60ml vodka; 90ml sweet lime juice; freshly squeezed 45ml raw mango squash/aam panna; 1 raw mango slice, to garnish; 1 cup cubed ice
Add the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice cubes. Shake well and pour into a mason jar or glass of your choice. Garnish with a slice of raw mango.
Mango & passion fruit caipiroska
Ingredients: 45ml vodka; L mango, cut into pieces; 1 fresh passion fruit, pulp extracted; 20ml fresh lime juice; 25ml sugar syrup; crushed ice; slice of mango (for garnish)
Muddle the mango and passion fruit pulp in an Old Fashioned glass.
Add crushed ice, lime juice, sugar syrup, top it up with Grey Goose vodka and stir gently. Garnish with scooped mango balls.
Lychee & kaffir lime julep
Ingredients: 45ml vodka; 3-4 kaffir lime leaves (for garnish); crushed ice; 2 fresh lychees; 5ml lime juice; 5ml sugar syrup
Put alternate layers of crushed ice, slightly bruised kaffir lime leaves and lychee halves in a royal imperial glass (simply crumpling each leaf before making the cocktail is called bruising, and it releases the aromatic oils, thus flavouring the cocktail). Add lime juice, sugar syrup and Grey Goose vodka to top the drink. Serve with a cocktail stirrer. Kaffir lime leaf and lychee as a garnish make it more attractive.
Say yes to Cognac iced tea!
White spirits may be the first choice for cocktails, but “coloured" spirits can take these up a notch with seasonal, unconventional mixer options. Just like you can substitute the bourbon in a julep with vodka, you can also swap white spirits with a cognac in a Moscow mule or iced tea cocktails. If you’re a cognac loyalist who loves to experiment, try this simple yet stylish tipple.
Ingredients: 50ml Hennessy Very Special; 25ml cherry syrup; 5ml cinnamon syrup; 20ml lemon juice; 90ml cold brewed tea decoction
To prepare the cold tea brew, soak seven tea bags in 1 litre of water at room temperature and let it infuse overnight. Strain and refrigerate. Build the drink in a tall glass over ice. Garnish with slices of pear, cinnamon stick and maraschino cherry.