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    IAM a wine person, but I have to admit that as an aperitif, there is little that can match a perfectly made cocktail. Watching the sun set, a dry Martini in hand? Paradise! And it’s hard to watch Mad Men or The Great Gatsby without wanting to say, “I’ll have what they’re having.” Cocktails scream elegance and the good life, perhaps that is why their popularity never fades.
    So I decided to check out what the movers and shakers were saying about the big trends in the international cocktail world this summer, and ask master mixologist Shatbhi Basu for her views on the India scene.
    Bitter not sweet: Internationally, there’s been a swing away from the fruity, sweet cocktails of last summer to the bitter – Campari-based, or with a dash of Angostura or Fernet Branca. Remember the Negroni? So bright and beautiful!
    Basu: “Bitter is not happening here yet. Fernet Branca, amaro are rarely available, Angostura is the only1 widely used bitters. Most Indians haven’t developed a taste for Campari. I personally love bitters, it zings up a drink. But this trend will take time.”
    Gin, gin: Move over vodka: the ‘blank slate’ makes way for the white spirit with ‘character.’ Afternoon drinkers are rediscovering the magic of high-end gin and bitters. And the Martini continues to rule.
    Basu: “I love gin, it’s aromatic and complex, I’d be happy to see more quality gins in India. But we’re still not there yet.”
    Tea time: With teas getting popular, it’s understandable that tea-based cocktails are too. Green tea and jasmine tea cocktails are demonstrating there’s life beyond Long Island Ice Teas. Tea-flavoured vodka is the new hot thing in London bars – from Lapsang Souchong to Earl Grey, Darjeeling to herbal teas; each unique flavour balances out a cocktail’s sweetness.
    Basu: “Yes, tea leaves, tea foam, spiced tea and tea-based cocktails are growing in popularity.”
    Classic is back: Prohibition and Post-Prohibition darlings like the Harvey Wallbanger, Gimlet, Sidecar, Old Fashioned, Daiquiri, Whisky Sour, Rusty Nail and French 75 (gin and Champagne-based classic) are getting popular again in the West.
    Basu: “Classics are making a comeback here too, especially Manhattan and Mint Julep. Adapted a little for modern tastes, but keeping the original’s integrity.”
    Sparkling delight: Champagne and sparkling wines are having their day everywhere, so fizz-based cocktails are rising in popularity. Besides the French 75, the Mimosa, Champagne cocktail, Bellini, Kir Royale, Bucks Fizz, Poinsettia (Champagne, Cointreau, cranberry juice); there are the spritzers, perfect for light summer drinking. Sparkling wine cocktails are light, bright and happening.
    Basu: “It’s still a brunch thing here. We play somewhat with sparkling wine cocktails in India, maybe make bellinis and mimosas or sparkling sangrias at most. But it’s fun, cool. People should try them.”
    m firstimpressionbangalore@gmail.com

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