Festive cocktails that pack a punch
- Mixologists reinvent five classic Christmas drinks to go with Indian feasts
- Shake and stir with indigenous ingredients like ‘kokum’, ‘gondhoraj’ and Assam tea liqueur
Around Christmas, everything seems to acquire a warm sepia-toned hue, harking back to a time when families would gather around tables groaning with hearty feasts, exchanging notes over goblets of warm wine. To help you recreate those memories, mixologists have reinvented five typical Christmas drinks to go with Indian feasts—just for you.
Nothing spells Christmas more than a warm jug of fragrant, spiced wine. However, Akhilesh Sheoran, bar manager, The Kimono Club, Delhi, suggests adding just a splash of Assam tea liqueur to give the classic drink a unique zing. “We add a light, subtle sweet note to the drink with dates puree and a house-made liqueur made with robust Assam tea. At home, this can be replaced with a concentrate of Assam tea," he says. The balance of flavours is maintained by bold acidity from the gondhoraj lemons and ginger beer—either home-made or bottled for easy access.
Ingredients: 50ml Bacardi Ocho (8-year-old aged rum), 1 spoonful of date puree, 15ml Assam tea liqueur, 20ml gondhoraj lemon juice, 45ml ginger beer, 45ml sparkling wine
Method: Add the rum, date puree and Assam tea liqueur in a cocktail shaker. Give it a good shake, add gondhoraj lemon juice and slices and top up the drink with ginger beer and sparkling wine.
Best paired with:A rum-soaked Christmas cake, to be shared with friends.
If the presence of long-grain basmati rice and condensed milk reminds you of kheer, you couldn’t be more wrong. Varun Sharma, beverage manager, Comorin, Gurugram, blends aromatic Indian spices and dark rum to create his own version of the Horchata, or what the Mayans and Aztecs used to call the drink of the gods.
Ingredients: 180g uncooked long-grain rice, 2 litres of warm water, K teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 vanilla pod, 1 litre Old Monk rum, 330 ml condensed milk.
Method: Mix the rice and warm water in a bowl for 30 minutes. Strain the water and place the soaked rice in a mortar and pestle. Add cinnamon to it and create a paste. Now mix the strained water with the paste. Stir and let it stand for at least 2 hours. Add condensed milk, vanilla and rum until the mixture is smooth and silky. Refrigerate for 2 hours. Sous vide 150ml of the Horchata for 4 minutes at 80 degrees Celsius. Pour the drink in a brandy balloon glass and garnish with star anise and grated nutmeg.
Best paired with:Mutton seekh kebabs, Kashmiri roti and Cheeni Malai Toast.
Tropical, vibrant and refreshing—Mehebub Mondal, beverage manager for Impresario’s Smoke House Deli and Salt Water Cafe, Mumbai, has tried to interpret the spirit of Goa in this drink. He suggests combining the earthy-fruity notes of the state’s home-grown liquor with a dash of Campari.
Ingredients: 45ml feni, 15ml Drambuie, 15ml Campari, 15ml lime juice, 2 star anise, edible flowers
Method: Add all the ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Shake well with ice and pour into an old-fashioned glass. Garnish with a slice of orange, star anise and edible flowers.
Best paired with:Any kind of Christmas roast, be it the classic chicken or pork belly. According to Mondal, the flavours of the drink work well even with East Indian and traditional Goan dishes such as the sorpotel or the vindaloo. Those with a sweet tooth can enjoy it with a Christmas pudding as well.
Acidity plays a big role in balancing out the flavours in cocktails too. A splash of kokum in a drink add a certain complexity, changing the flavour profile. “It is quite hot in Goa around Christmas. Hence kokum is used as a cooling agent to add a wonderful freshness to the cocktail," says Ajay Sharma, assistant director, food and beverage, W, Goa.
Ingredients: 45ml feni, two thin slices of ginger, 15ml kokum syrup, a pinch of cinnamon powder, 15ml sugar syrup, 15ml kahlua.
Method: Muddle ginger with kokum syrup. Mix all the ingredients with ice and shake well. Strain and serve in a Martini glass.
Best paired with:Salmon rillettes, as fish and kokum are a great combination. Kahlua adds a festive touch to the drink.
Evoke the essence of the Malabar coast with this drink, infused with peppercorns, pineapples and coconuts. “We have tried to represent the Syrian Christian community with our take on the classic piña colada," says chef Ruchira Hoon, who has crafted a set of cocktails for Ek Bar, Delhi. So, sugar syrup has been replaced by palm jaggery, which has rich caramel notes. Just like Hoon, you too can infuse a dark rum of your choice with the skin of pineapple and whole peppercorns in a series of simple steps. “This gives the rum a more pronounced note, with more flavours from Kerala shining through," she says.
Ingredients: 60ml Old Monk dark rum infused with pineapple skins and whole peppercorns, 20ml palm jaggery syrup, 60ml pineapple juice, 60ml coconut milk, ice.
Blend all the ingredients together and pour into a tall glass. Serve with a wreath of rosemary and a star fashioned from a pineapple.
Best paired with: Hoppers and egg roast, which are part of a typical Suriani Christmas feast.
Christmas is all about heartwarming cocktails, featuring aromatic spices like cloves, nutmeg, star and ginger. Keeping in the tradition of drinks like eggnog, made with cream, milk and sugar, Tres, Delhi, has come up with a Snowy Chaitini. The use of traditional Indian masala chai adds the perfect Indian touch to this drink.
Ingredients: 15 ml masala chai syrup, 15 ml milk, 30 ml freshly brewed espresso, 30 ml bourbon whisky, 15 ml coffee liqueur. For garnish: cinnamon coconut cream, 3 dehydrated cranberries, 2 star anise
Add all the ingredients to an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a dollop of cinnamon coconut cream and the dehydrated cranberries and whole star anise.
Best paired with: A rich dessert
FIRST PUBLISHED20.12.2019 | 04:58 PM IST