Meet the cocktail specialists who will craft tipple to perfectly match your mood
In an era of glorified classics and esoteric flavour infusions, our most wanted bartenders can muddle, stir, shake and garnish their way to your heart. They get chatting about specialty cocktails that emphasise ingredients, process and presentation and share some of their trade secrets too. So it’s time to bring out the spirits, mixers, shakers and get ready for a glass with class this New Year’s eve. By Aakanksha Devi
THE rather reserved Albert Peter from Shiro, efficiently oversees one of the city’s busiest bars with quiet panache. Watching a close friend flaring a drink at a party got him interested in bartending, clearly a smart move as five years down the line he has already made it to head barman, rocked the crowd at a Jameson party in Dublin and is pulling in the crowds with his mixes and concoctions. “It’s great to work at a place like Shiro because it sees such a mixed yet discerning crowd right through the week,” begins Peter, adding that the regulars at their popular Sunday brunch are also the most challenging crowd he faces.
His original Demarara fig mojito is quite the bestseller here and a concoction he is most proud of.
On trend shifts in mixology over the past year, Peter says that “people are looking for molecular cocktails and mixes with fresh fruits, herbs, spices, etc.” But when it comes to getting a party going, “It’s the classic drinks that always rock. And since Bangaloreans love their whisky and single malts, look out for more refreshing cocktails with a whisky base in 2014,” he shares.
Whisky with water or on the rocks, beer and vodka-based drinks
Whisky on the rocks
Hard Rock Cafe
The burly Torishetti, radiates energy, a disarming toothy grin and loads of infectious charm. Holding fort at the popular Hard Rock Cafe in the city, he needs to be on top of the game everyday because of the reputation of the global chain, known for its well calibrated cocktails and signature food from Singapore to London. Torishetti himself likes to add a clever twist to all of their popular cocktails.
“I have made the Mojito my own with certain secret ingredients,” he explains, adding that the refreshing, white rum-based concoction is both his personal favourite as well as a best-seller at his bar. To get the party started however, he suggests the Hurricane — a New Orleans fruity special with a base of dark rum. The Bloody Mary is apparently the most “painstaking” one to whip up because it can easily go horribly wrong as it is made with 17 ingredients. His signature mix is the deceptively simple, “lime juice” which he prepares well ahead to keep the endless flow of cocktails on a busy night uninterrupted. “Saturday Night here is always the hardest! But I absolutely love the fun energy it brings,” he shares, jovially.
Old Monk with coke and beer
IT WAS a mixture of passion and curiosity that led George Meakin to become a mixologist — a job he clearly enjoys going by the crowds thronging this little hotspot. This season, he tells us he will be gently ignoring requests to ‘make it strong’ and will stick to mixing drinks that ‘people enjoy’. “I will get really creative and come up with a new concoction every day, but for New Year’s Eve I will make cocktails that people can enjoy over the course of the evening rather than get a quick buzz,” he shares. His favourite tipple is a dark rum sour, but he suggests that generous pitchers of Bull Frog will kickstart your party in a jiff. No wonder, since it’s a heady mix of rum, vodka, gin, tequila and blue curacao with liberal amounts of Red Bull! The quiet, shy, dad of twin sons has managed a thirsty crowd of 2,000 people with ease — thanks to his magic lime potion.
Old Monk and Coca Cola, Long Island Iced Tea, draught beer, good old fashioned whiskey and water
Sweet and sour mix that can make Margaritas. appletinis, kamikazis, LITs among other cocktails
HAVING finished a course in hotel management, this fun-loving mixologist started his career at The Chancery Pavilion in 2006. After stints at The Park, Spiga and two years at a popular nightclub in Macau, he is one of Trader Vic’s most popular barmen, who has had more than his fair share of wild bashes. This year, Servai will be serving up some of his best mixes like the Old Fashioned and party favourites like Mojitos, flavoured Martinis and Sangrias, to get the night rocking. You can also expect to sample some spectacular molecular indulgences from Servai, made especially to usher in 2014, which he says will be the year of fresh flavours. “Everyone seems to be gravitating towards refreshing and fruity cocktails. I’m expecting more flavoured spirits in fruity flavours and a huge rise in the popularity of molecular drinks in 2014,” he says.
Screwdriver and Cuba Libre
Thai Flavours with vodka, lemongrass, basil, kaffir lime, Malibu, lemon juice, rock candy and soda
A casual stint at bartending in America is what turned Vamsi into a full-time mixology consultant and the go-to guy in Bangalore and Hyderabad for quirky infusions and experimental wines. “I started doing this in college for fun at mostly house parties. When some friends were opening a bar here in Bangalore, I offered to help out, and that was my first professional start. Since then, I’ve worked on quite a few menus for bars and themed house parties,” shares Vamsi. He plans to keep doing what he does best on December 31 because it is the ‘night to drink’. But theme-based cocktails will be top of his list along with all kinds of shots – the tastier the better! And of course, the special INDULGE drink – Champagne with St Germain (or elder flower syrup), Ciroc red berry, green apple juice and a sprig of rosemary for garnish.
His signature mix is anything with St Germain as well as herbs and spices because ‘they are almost always available in Indian homes’. “A lot of my mixes have happened on the fly at parties. I love working with fresh fruit and vegetable juices, but if availability is a problem, herbs and spices in India are always around,” says Vamsi. And it didn’t take much for him to divulge that salt is his secret ingredient. “It takes the kick away from a lot of drinks and reduces the sweetness,” he offers, adding that whisky drinkers were toughest to please for the lack of appreciation for colourful concoctions. But looking to the future, Vamsi expects wine to become more popular while cognac cocktails will also find their time in the bartending sun.
Gin-tonic-cucumber water, rum and coke, fruit juice with gin
Lime, cranberry, sprite, vodka,
Apple juice, whisky, mint leaves
PIERRE Andre D’Souza rocks the bar with his signature flavoured vodka infused with Bloody Mary ingredients and suggests that for a house party, you might want to stock up heavily on Margaritas and Mojitos. “I will also be using fruit and vegetable extracts and locally sourced herbs for the big bash,” he tells us suggesting we try his original The Seven Kingdoms based on his “favourite TV show – Game Of Thrones. Made with seven different potent liquors.”
He describes how he made drinks at French DJ and Buddha Bar owner, Claude Challe’s party at The Jumeirah Beach in 2002. We especially loved his Moulin Rouge – a concoction he made especially for our INDULGE readers with fresh plums, apple juice, passion fruit syrup, vodka and a dash of sparkling wine.
He also reveals that smoke is his trade secret as “it adds a special flavour and complexity to a drink that lingers pleasantly on the palate.” While the Good Morning Dublin and kitty parties are the least exciting part of his job. And his opinion on the trends of 2014? “Infusions will definitely become more popular. People will try to find unique jars and presentation styles. I also feel that people will go back to making the classics,” he concludes.
Martinis and Jameson
Screwdriver – orange juice and vodka
Mimosa – replace the vodka
with sparkling wine
DHANENDRAN Ravindran is naturally the pro with stints at top hotels before coming up with clever signatures at Olive Beach. “I loved everything to do with cocktails and soon realised that it required lots of skill and practice. So I decided to pursue it professionally,” he tells us as he creates a delightful special for INDULGE — vodka shaken with grape juice, rose syrup and lemon, strained and served in a cocktail glass, garnished with fresh rose petals. Crowd pleasers at this hotspot range from champagne cocktails to Cosmopolitans and frozen Margaritas, but Ravindran moves away from the classics when he can. “I have fun with spices, fruits and temperatures, like Olive Beach Island — fresh watermelon, orange, lime, lemonade and gin or The Spanish Saffron Martini which needs to be carefully calibrated. 2014 will also see new liquors and spirits coming into the Indian market. I predict that rum will be the new vodka,” he says, signing off.
Scotch on the rocks, gin andtonic, fresh fruit Martinis and a good single malt
Tom Collins — gin, lime, sugar and soda, Cuba Libre — Coca-Cola and Bacardi
Karthik Kumar of ITC Gardenia is waiting with bated breath for his Wine & Spirit Education exam results which we’re convinced will be as good as his cocktails. “When I was judged one of the top six mixologists in South India at the Bacardi Grand Prix, I knew this was my calling,” shares the expert who shook up The Killer — a mix of fresh passion fruit, Californian grapes spiked with vodka and vanilla sugar at The Kothari and Ambani wedding, and reveals that his secret ingredients are Lemoncillo (Italian lemon liquor) and Amarula (South African liqueur made from marula fruit). And also loves to get chatty about the history of the drink, rushing off to Tomorrowland in Belgium for his EDM fix or the downside of synthetic ingredients. “It creates an imbalance in drinks. Nothing like simple, fresh, easy drinks that taste wonderful, are easy to replicate without too many flavours competing with each other,” he says.
Chilled white wine Sangria, oaked chardonnay Sangria, vodka with half lemon and half tonic and Mojito
Amaretto with BourbonOrange juice with sparkling wine ,Cosmopolitan with Ocean Spray cranberry juice
SHASHANK Sharma is a true whizz with spirits and flairtending. “My father’s parties and my mom’s kitties were my early training grounds. Then in college, I was introduced to a new level of mixology, through top professionals in the business and guests with discerning tastes,” he begins describing his fondness for the spirited use of cognacs, aged dark rums and whiskies with warm, earthy, aromas. Irish Coffee, egg nogg, brandy or mulled wine, anyone? He also swears that a liberal scoop or two of good quality ice ‘can make a world of difference to a cocktail’. Sharma suggests barrels of Mojitos and Cosmopolitans as well as Perfect Manhattans and Espresso Martinis to rock your party. This from a guy who made 27 airforce pilots 160 cocktails in under 45 minutes. “Just 17 seconds per drink,” he says proudly, adding that Agave syrup, Elder flower, Lavender and Jasmine as well as teas like camomile, Earl Grey and hibiscus will be popular. Make sure to try his INDULGE drink, The Maple Indulgence as well as his original Genie in a Bottle that is white rum, kafir lime and galangal (from the Ginger family) muddled and served in a bottle packed with crushed ice and kafir lime leaves.
Mai Tai, Pina colada, Tom Collins
A quality sparkling wine, fresh orange juice, a hand full of mint leaves. Mix the first two in equal quantities and throw in a few mint leaves for surprise
ICE, Vivanta by Taj
Sujan Tamang, the popular face at ICE, hails from Darjeeling and is the proud inventor of the bubbletini — vodka infused with bubblegum flavour. But if you head to ICE this New Year’s eve, try his Santa13, a perfect blend of raspberry puree, vanilla, vodka, hazelnut syrup, whipped cream and a dash of cinnamon powder — perfect for the cold winter nights, which looks and tastes delicious, in addition to classic party cocktails reclaiming the party scene. “I think that all the classic cocktails are coming back as everyone is trying to re-create the magic of the classic cocktails with a twist of modern techniques, just like the movie SHOLAY ,” he shares. “For 2014, expect jelly shots, and in terms of spirits, it would be vodka, Jägermiester and Absinthe,” Tamang concludes.
Long Island Iced tea, Mojito, gin and tonic, bourbon whisky shaken with sour mix egg white and bitters
Inputs: Rashmi Rajagopal and
Picture Courtesy: Jithendra M
Location Courtesy: Shiro