Say cheers with cocktails that showcase local favourites like tamarind, filter coffee and more.
Strawberries, watermelons and peaches have had their day. When it comes to finding a spirited match, mixologists are looking towards more unusual pairings. Keeping up with the times (and the season), we went in search of quintessentially Chennai flavours in our sundowners. And we found quite a generous serving. From the spicy ‘rasam’ and vodka at the InterContinental to Taj Coromandel’s curry leaf martini, here is our pick of cocktails that keep it local and very today.
Nattu Rasam@ InterContinental
Spicy tomato rasam on a bar menu? It’s not as outlandish as it sounds, not when The Gatsby Lounge has something to say about it. The mixologists have shaken together vodka, tamarind, coriander and tomato to give the subtle nuances of the Tamil lunch staple, but with a gourmet touch that can be quite addictive. Rs 600++.
Aqua Regia @ The Leela Palace
The Aqua Regia, at Library Blu, straddles the fine line between sweet and sour, while combining some of our favourite local flavours. A large shot of Roberto Cavalli vodka is shaken with tamarind pulp, mango juice and caramel jaggery to create this cocktail that goes down real smooth. Rs 1,500++. Details: 33661234
Thendrool @ Hyatt Regency
The coconut gets another outing in this tipple which is perfect for an afternoon out in the city. With the new Absolut India as its star—combining the flavours of mango and pepper—it gets its velvety taste from coconut milk and passion fruit syrup. Served with a tiny pyramid of freshly-grated coconut, it’s almost like dessert in a martini glass. At 365 AS, for Rs 700. Details: 61001234
Southern Trade@ Big Bang Theory
One of the city’s favourite watering holes—where patrons are served heaping portions of music, comedy and cocktails—Southern Trade is finding fans with its take on some strong flavours. Sip on vodka that has been infused with asafoetida, cumin, coriander and lime juice. Rs 295++.
Guindy Vandi @ Hablis
It may seem like a confusion of flavours, but the bartender at The Moon and Sixpence assures us that the quirkily-named Guindy Vandi is a fun one to kick off the evening with. Blending vodka, pineapple purée, coriander seeds and curry leaves, it’s punchy yet light on the palate. Rs 450++. Details: 40235555
Chola Elanee @ ITC Grand Chola
It’s a tale in white at the Tranquebar. The Chola Elanee looks quite unassuming, but packs a punch with coconut cream and tender coconut water blended with Bacardi white rum and Malibu. The gourmet concoction is the perfect sundowner at Rs 695++. Details: 22200000
Murugan Colada @ Park Hyatt
The classic Piña Colada gets a Chennai twist at the Flying Elephant. Taking its inspiration from the much-loved coconut chutney at Murugan Idli Shop, the Murugan Colada is a mix of coconut milk, white rum and curry leaves. But what we love the most is its presentation—in a traditional South Indian bronze pot. Rs 538. Details: 71771234
Kappi Martini @ Crowne Plaza
There’s not much that can beat a cup of filter coffee in the morning. And we bet there’s not much that can compete with the rich flavour of arabica, especially when mixed with some vodka and Kahlua. Introducing the Kappi Martini, your answer to a great start to the weekend.
At Dakshin. Rs 600. Details: 24994101
Curry Leaf Martini @ Taj Coromandel
Double the high at the Taj hotels. At Chipstead, the Curry Leaf Martini is a refreshing mix of vodka, curry leaves, and apple and lime juice (Rs 600, 66002827). Follow up this light cocktail with a tangy twist at the Taj Club House, where the Tamarind Margarita updates the classic with
tamarind paste, lime juice, orange juice and tequila.
Rs 600. Details: 66313131
Malli Martini @ The Park
Here’s an exotic way to step up your martini game. The Leather Bar pays tribute to the ubiquitous strings of jasmine with its Malli Martini—a drink that is as simple and fresh as the flowers themselves. Made with sugar syrup, lemon juice, vodka and a handful jasmine flowers, this is one of our favourites. Rs 550++.
—Surya Praphulla Kumar