Whether shaken or stirred, with or without the olives or lemon twists, you love your cocktails. With mixology on the rise in India, do you still need an excuse to gather your friends and spend a great, fun night at the bar? Maybe not
By: Karishma Parkash
Posted on: May 10, 2011
Whether shaken or stirred, with or without the olives or lemon twists, you love your cocktails. With mixology on the rise in India, do you still need an excuse to gather your friends and spend a great, fun night at the bar? Maybe not.
The stage is set, and this time its right up our alley. Following London, New York, Sydney, Paris, Seoul, Amsterdam, Athens and Vienna among others, the world celebrated and renowned ‘World Class’ organized by Diageo Reserve, kick starts in India to add glitz and panache into the already energetic Indian nightlife.
If bartending is your thing, then recognize your temple. Renowned as the Oscars of the Mixology World, Diageo Reserve World Class celebrates the creative flair, skill and craft of a bartender. As a globally recognized industry platform, it aims to foster excellence to the field of bartending, inspire talented bartenders to challenge their creative boundaries in mixology, build brand knowledge and ultimately elevate customer experiences to a high standard of sophistication enjoyed in some of the finest bars around the world.
“For me, the best thing about World Class is especially in developing markets like India. Training and working with bartenders to develop their passion and knowledge is a great feeling. Why? Because it will stay with them long after World Class has gone,” says Mr Tim Judge, Diageo Reserve Brand Ambassador, who wants every bartender to reach their maximum potential. “The competition is healthy and friendly and it’s a very close knit group because we all love the same thing and share the same passion. Bartenders across the world are one big global family!” he adds.
In a nationwide search, mixologists from some of India’s best bars will be shaking, pouring and stirring their way to earn the title of ‘Diageo Reserve World Class Bartender Of The Year 2011’, and further compete against the world’s finest bartenders in the global finals. This year, India has been chosen to host the Diageo Reserve World Class Grand Final, a spectacular event hosting the best bartending talent from across the globe all under one roof, scheduled for July 2011 in New Delhi.
“India and Delhi in particular is a vibrant and international city with an upcoming bar culture with lots of new bars opening and with many new bartenders signing up. Delhi is also one of the fastest growing luxury goods market in the world. So we wanted to bring Diageo World Class to India to help accelerate the growth of bars and the bar culture in India,” said Mr Judge. He furthered about the growth and impetus of India as an evolving mixology destination and said that the fit outs and the architectures of some of the Indian bars are really beautiful and incredible amongst those he has seen in the world.
The art of mixology isn’t an easy one. In fact, it’s a never ending process! Realizing that evolution is a part of the game, Mr Judge notices a huge thirst for knowledge and willingness to improve and be the best! “I have seen some really passionate bartenders in Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru and Kolkata. Whether it’s the highly skilled and knowledgeable bartenders in Delhi, the polished and fashionable bartenders in Bengaluru or the most creative bartenders in Kolkata – India has definitely got something to offer!” he exclaims.
Diageo World Class Reserve originates and challenges by bringing in regional flavours and ingredients. So pick out Indian flavours and spices, and you will be amazed at the wonders they can do to a drink! Mr Judge encourages the opening up of avenues for cocktails in India with local flavours, influences and ingredients. He shares that he some excellent Indian inspired cocktail and talks about one that even a novice can connect with – A Paan Martini! Elucidating further, he said, “I even do a drink called ‘I say Bombay, you say Mumbai’. It is a reflection of the city with two names. Some people say Mumbai, some say Bombay still – in the same sentence. Bombay is traditional while Mumbai is modern – like their history.” If this excites you, wait till you read the recipe of his concoction. Try it out! Drinking it is up to you, drink Bombay first with a little bit of its history and then maybe Mumbai. “No rules! I never want to give people rules and restrictions about how they should enjoy their drink,” he states.
Tanqueray No. TEN is at the heart of this sub continent interpretation of the Martinez - the grandfather of the Martini
Ingredients: 30ml Tanqueray No. TEN gin, 15ml home made masala sweet vermouth, 2 dashes of Regan’s Orange Bitters, Garnish with a clove studded orange peel
Method: Stir all ingredients with cubed ice and strain into a chilled ½ size martini glass
To make Masala vermouth – take 1 bottle of Indian Merlot, 100ml brandy and a spice bag made up of cinnamon, cloves, green cardamom, star anise and saffron. Place all in a pan and simmer for five minutes. Take off the heat and allow to cool overnight. Next day remove the spice bag and bottle. Keep in the fridge and it will last for one month.
Alcohol per Serve: 12.99g
Ketel One combines with green cardamom in this very modern take of the vodka martini
Ingredients: 30ml Ketel One vodka, 5ml Cardamom infused dry vermouth, Garnish with a large Kashmiri stuffed green olive
Method: Shake all ingredients with cubed ice and double strain into a chilled ½ size martini glass
For cardamom infused dry vermouth, place 10 green cardamoms in a bottle of dry vermouth and set aside for at least five days. Remove cardamoms and refrigerate.
Alcohol per Serve: 10.07g
The X factor
Bartenders are highly-educated and they have a huge thirst for knowledge. How does World Class help them? Active mentoring sessions which include learning correct technique, skill and brand passion sessions where they are introduced to Diageo’s portfolio of brands. “We also teach them how to perform at professional competitions. All bartenders have base level skills. Our job is to just polish it up a little bit! Every year, it only gets better with the bar rising higher and higher!” Mr Judge says excitedly. The only criteria – personal as well as professional interest in the field of bartending and the rest is yet unwritten.
Taste and presentation of the cocktail are important, but Mr Judge has his eye looking for more, much more. “For me, a great bartender isn’t one who can make the best drink, but the one who has the ability to give the customer exactly what they want along with an unforgettable experience in the bar. A good bartender should make the guest feel comfortable as if they were sitting in the comfort of their own home. The ability to craft amazing drinks is obviously part of it, but I lay emphasis on creating an experience. That’s what will excite people to go out and drink at bars rather than just sit home and drink!” he opines.
Looking for such an experience? Mr Judge recommends the Harbor Bar at the Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai and ordering “From the Harbor Bar, since 1933”. Prepare to be stunned as the ingredients not only include Tanqueray No 10 gin, pineapple and cranberry juice, but also a full narration of the history of the drink – right at your table!
A little experience goes a long way
Want to know which spirits are best paired with which foods? Ask yourself! “The best pairing is your favorite drink with your favorite food! Obviously, there are some guidelines to help. Dishes like salad, chicken and fish, which have gentle flavours, go well with white spirits like Ciroc, Tanqueray, Kettle One and match with citrusy flavours. In a place like India, where majority of the foods are red meats and curry based, dark spirits like whiskies are ideal. For desserts, something like a Rum Zacapa is ideal which is rich and luxurious – just perfect!” he advises.
Classic cocktails now have a modern twist. With so much innovation and talent in the air, it ought to be so! “Almost all new cocktails are a twist on classics with the Cosmo being the most modern. Every bartender re-imagines a classic cocktail and reinvents it with either different ingredients or the amount of ingredients used and gives it a new name,” he says. If you are looking for Mr Judge’s modern twist, take a look.
Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve Vieux Carré
60ml Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve
30ml Sweet Vermouth
10ml DOM Benedictine
1 Dash Peychauds Cocktail Bitters
1 Dash Angostura Orange Bitters
Stir all ingredients with cubed ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Spritz an orange zest over the top and discard.
Alcohol per Serve: 26.4g
If you are looking for a perfect drink for a particular occasion, let the expert guide you. If dancing is your thing, then something tall and easy drinking with good energy would be apt for a dance party. “A Ron Zacapa 23 Dark & Stormy (Ron Zacapa 23, Ginger Beer, lime juice and a dash of Angostura Bitters) is ideal,” says Mr Judge. He advises working up your appetite with A Singleton of Glen Ord Rob Roy (The Singleton of Glen Ord 12, Sweet vermouth, Angostura Bitters) before a meal and ending it with a neat Talisker or Ron Zacapa 23 on the rocks after. For the day, he suggests something light and refreshing like a Ciroc John Collins (Ciroc, lemon juice, sugar and soda).
For a celebration, Mr Judge suggests something bubbly to match the occasion - a Tanqueray No. TEN French 75 (Tanqueray No.TEN, lemon juice, sugar and champagne). Lastly, for the ultimate romantic in you, he recommends a shared drink like a nice vodka punch with Ciroc, passion fruit, some citrus to balance and garnished with a single rose for a perfect date.
Gender of the drinks?
Yes, there are stereotypes on what women drink, but let’s face it – we drink what we like and when we like! “I never categorize what people should drink based on their sex. I think it’s extremely presumptuous and stereotypical,” says Mr Judge. It’s 2011, chuck the stereotype that girls only love drinks like the Cosmopolitan and other sweet pink fruity drinks! We don’t!
Mr Judge recommends treating everyone as an individual with their individual tastes. But of course, there are some generalizations. According to Mr Judge, women are more likely to drink cocktails than men because they, quite often, see cocktails to be girly – even though the cocktails that women drink will have higher alcohol content than the beer, whisky and sodas that the guys are having! If portraying a humbly masculine image is what you need, then he advises whisky and rum which are traditionally masculine spirits.
So take advantage of the summer season and make use of the recipes given. Indulge in some cool, refreshing and delightful cocktails.