The year 2011 saw Delhi raising the bar when it came to mixology and spirits. We saw a number of international mixologists visit the city, there were bartending competitions and molecular mixology stirred the creativity of bartenders like never before. Traditional cocktails such as mohitos and cosmopolitans gave way to sensory delights such as a dry Martini with Cosmopolitan foam floating on top or a Kamikaze shot with Kahlua pearls. Craft beers became popular and women discovered a newfound love for single malt whiskies. The current trends only show that there is more adventure in store for guzzlers. We have city’s mixologists and spirit experts sharing with us what’s going to stir and shake the city this year.
Molecular mixology, an offshoot of molecular gastronomy, is being used by bartenders to alter the look, texture and flavour of a cocktail. The technique can turn your drink into bubble, foam, powder, gel or even mist.
“The trend will grow bigger as bars will incorporate the technique as part of their standard repertoire of drinks and not as separate menus,” says Akshay Sood, manager, Agni. Smoke House Room, Keya, and Blue Bar, Taj Palace are already bang on the trend.
Bars will come up with a large number of low-cal cocktails to woo health junkies. Sugarfree cocktails are already quite popular. We will see a growing number of bartenders using seasonal fresh fruits to make their cocktails. “The menus might also have the calorie count written against each drink,” says chef Marut Sikka, Keya.
Traditionally, Delhi has loved its cocktails full of ice, and a warm drink has mostly meant a cup of Irish coffee. With winters getting chillier, Delhiites are slowly developing a liking for warm drinks. And it’s not just the select five stars, but even stand alone bars are serving warm drinks such as highland toddies, hot buttered rum and the good old mulled wine. You can also sip a glass of mulled wine at restaurants such as Smoke House Room, Olive Beach, Cafe Cruise, Amour and Marbella’s at Tivoli Garden.
Bar menus will not be limited to a few uninspiring pizzas and shawarma options. As people become more experimental with food, the choice of cuisines that you can choose from at bars is also expanding. Bars that usually shied away from having an elaborate dessert menu are also offering eclectic dessert options. Kitty Su, for instance, has an impressive dessert menu, that even includes a range of sweet sushis.
Just like wines or whiskies, mixologists are keeping cocktails in oak wood casks too, to age the drinks. Cocktails are left in a cask for a week or 10 days to mature. The drink also picks up a woody flavour and the ingredients marry well with each other. “ For planned parties, barrel-aged cocktails work very well,” says Jince Thomas, mixologist, Geoffrey’s. You can place order for aged drinks at Geoffrey’s, Kitty Su and Keya. whisky for girls. Whisky is no more a man’s drink as a growing number of women show their love for single malts. The city already boasts of an all women whisky club (Spirit of Nero, at Le Meridian), and we will see more women engage themselves in whisky appreciation evenings, whisky tours and food pairing with whisky.
“As women look for a drink that’s complex and classy, the popularity of whisky is increasing. The access to the best of whiskies in the world, and exposure to new brands will further fuel the trend,” says Sandeep Arora, director, Spiritual Luxury Living.
As the emphasis is on creating distinct flavours, mixologists are increasingly using Indian kitchen ingredients such as cumin, tamarind and aam pappad. At Kitty Su, The Lalit, for instance, you can try a Laal imli margarita, an alcoholic banta, Vodka thandai, Rum thandai, Kala khatta rum or an Aam pappad mohito. We also see mixologist making signature syrups to add an exotic flavours to their drinks. Keya, for instance, uses syrups such as cigar syrup (cigar leaves soaked in sugared water), cumin, paan, rose, cardamom and sandal syrup to create different cocktails. So don’t be surprised if the bartender tells you that the nolen gur (date palm jaggery) delicacy on the menu is not a dessert but actually a cocktail that treats you with flavours you have not experienced before.