Breaking it down: Why is the deconstructed cocktail trending?

  • Snigdha Ahuja, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jun 02, 2016 19:00 IST
The deconstructed cocktail is having its moment at city bars. Here’s the Amalia cocktail from Pullman, Aerocity. Orange marmalade is put in a glass instead of a shaker and the rest of the alcoholic mix is poured in front of the guest from a tea pot, and with time it melts down the marmalade and enhances the taste.

If you think your cocktail palate deserves more than the run-of-the mill Mojito or a sombre serving of sangria, this trend might help you experiment. The city’s bar menus have taken a daring turn with presentations and mixes that cater to new-age restaurant-goers, and the deconstructed cocktail is surely worth a try.

Presentation becomes a key element when it comes to deconstructing cocktails. Check out (left) the ‘Make In India’ cocktail at Molecule Air Bar, Gurgaon: A Kaala khatta mix deconstructed with the help of five white spirits. On the right, a deconstructed B-52 at Sandys Cocktails & Kitchen, Sector 29, Gurgaon.

What in the world is a deconstructed drink?

“Deconstructing a cocktail in the literal sense is where we take a drink and break it down into its separate components. This helps us understand the character of each ingredient and how it influences the cocktail,” says Tarun Tanwar, mixologist at Circus, South Extension.

Here are some summer-perfect deconstructions. (clockwise from left) The deconstructed Watermelon Caprioska at Circus (South Extension), the Alphonso mango Mojito at 38 Barracks, Connaught Place and ‘One for the Road’ from HotMess Kitchen & Bar (Connaught Place) with a Bourbon base.

“By deconstructing a cocktail, you work upon each component separately and present it separately too. But, the taste and the balance of the ingredients in the cocktail is maintained as that of the original. The style primarily adds a different dimension of experience for the senses, be it with the visual (the look of it), the taste or the finish of the cocktail,” says mixologist Sandy Verma, who serves the popular B-52 with a deconstructed element of a ‘mini ball’ at his bar. This ‘ball’ is made of Baileys and Kahlua, and served in chilled Cointreau.

How do we break down our favourites?

Deconstruction is all about reinventing classics. Here’s Sangria De Ciroco, a fruit-infused smoked red wine, deconstructed and served in two jars, at Tamasha, KG Marg.

As experts say, it’s more about reinventing the cocktail than creating a new one. So yup, you can call it a kind of cocktail science. “Making great deconstructed cocktails is a balancing act. It requires the use of the right levels of sweetness, sourness or bitterness. The art of adding flavour while still allowing the character of the base spirit to show through is not a easy task and requires an intimate understanding of the ingredients involved. Many well-constructed cocktails can be broken down into their core components which fit somewhere within the following five categories: Base Spirit –> Sour/Bitter –> Sweetener –> Flavour -> Lengthener,” explains Ravi Aley, mixologist at Indigo. So, it’s possible to break down, de-construct and rejig something as staple as a Mojito, Caprioska or a Cosmopolitan.

What are the city bars up to?

The Cosmo Explosion in Hauz Khas Social is to be mixed at the table. The candy floss adds a structural dimension to the bar favourite.

Capital bars are busy deconstructing cocktails. For summer, cooling elements like watermelon, mint, mango and orange purée are making an impression. When it comes to the spirits, the deconstruction can be done with anything and everything. Capital mixologists are experimenting with sparkling wine, vodka, whiskey, gin and white rum to create these mixes. Typically, the drink is layered — it includes the ingredients packaged and presented in varied layers, and the presentation is done in a way to make sure the distinction shows.

The Coastal Cooler at Junglee Billee, GK1 that layers up gin, coconut , watermelon and more.

So the next time you order a cocktail, make sure it’s a deconstructed one, so you head home not just with a happy buzz, but a story to share about how it was really made.

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