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Features

Behind the bars

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As we raise glasses and turn our gaze towards this summer, Zorawar Kalra says that the use of citric fusions will become more prominent in the years ahead

The bar scene in India is finally getting upgraded. It has moved past the heavily coloured cocktails and mastered the old fashioned one, it is now entering a phase where innovative drinks are the norm instead of being yearly specials. Rather than just being fixated to whisky, millennials are now experimenting with their drinks, without having to necessarily stick to boring regular Mojitos. The bar is no more just a corner in the restaurant where alcohol and syrups mix, but has evolved into quite the star of the evening with specialists being brought in for conceptualisation.

The rising trends of cocktails seem to be the cutting edge post-modern and post molecular techniques such as there’s an equipment which is typically used to clean diamonds, it is now being utilised to mix cocktails.

Keeping it simple, but seasonal is the key. A freshly juiced pineapple in season does a lot more for flavour than two tinctures, a smoked glass and three unnecessary garnishes.

There are also different kinds of ice being used, such as distilled flavoured ice, as it melts in slowly, the taste of the cocktail starts to rise. But knowing which ice to use when and why is important.

We can see the return of a lot of South American and Latin flavours. Maybe it’s their exotic connotations, or their vacation-minded attitudes. Most likely it’s the base ingredient spirits that make them favoured. Some of the top most bars of the world are now in Mexico, that is why those cool new flavours are Peruvian and Mexican in nature.

Local produce, seasonal ingredients and sustainability are certainly a movement that’s growing more and more.

If we talk about millennials, Gen Y is preferring a lot of snazzy-looking drinks, beverages with a drop of sweetness in them and smoke and mirror — where ‘smoke’ could mean a cocktail with smoked liquor in it, a drink that’s been set on fire or one that’s infused with a smoky flavour, where as on the other hand, grown ups, above the age of 30 or 35, are moving away from the same.

Gen Z prefers cutting edge techniques but not unnecessary smoking mirrors. Aesthetic wise we can see that they favour drinks which look minimal, clean and simple. Their entire focus is on innovative glassware which have to be kept classy as well as elegant. The maximum demand is towards subtle cocktails.

The cocktails are undoubtedly becoming clearer, with mild colours and comprising of all the seasonal flavours. The use of citric fusions will become more prominent in the years ahead.

In sync with these rising trends of cocktails, Bo Tai, Delhi’s Thai restaurant, also reinvented their cocktail menu by taking inspiration from the Tiki culture created in the US in the 1930’s and which has been thriving ever since.

Hatsadiling

The Hatsadiling is a mythical bird, commonly featured in Northern Thai art. It is considered to be the size of a house, with the head and body of a lion, trunk and tusks of an elephant, the comb of a cock, and the wings of a bird. According to an oral myth in north eastern Thailand, the bird once inhabited the legendary forest of Himavanta.

Temple of the Lion

Singha — The story of why chinthes guard the entrances of pagodas and temples is given as such from the Mahavamsa. A princess had a son through her marriage to a lion, but later abandoned the lion, who then became enraged and set out on silver plated road of terror throughout the stemmed lands. The son then went out to slay this terrorising lion. The son came back home to his mother stating he slew the lion, and then found out that he killed his own father. The son later constructed a statue of the lion as a guardian of a temple to atone for his sin. This cocktail is made up of house rum blend, Thai red syrup, spiced vermouth, lime, pomegranate, tamarind, strawberry and angostura.

The Guardian Nymph

Apsonsi — half nymph half woman the protector from harm depicted with the bottom half of a lion, often seen guarding temples around Thailand and believed to live in the mythical forest of Himavanta in the Himalayas. Ingredients used in making this one — cognac, tropical vermouth, orange spiced syrup, Darjeeling and lychee tea, saline and citrus.

Clarified Dragon Punch

The Phaya Nak or naga, mythical serpent-like creatures, believed by locals to live in the Mekong river or estuaries. The famous Naga Fireball phenomenon is attributed to this mythical beast.

Kinnari’s Embrace

Kinnaris are depicted as half-bird, half-woman creatures. One of the many creatures that inhabit the mythical Himavanta, Kinnaris have the head, torso, and arms of a woman and the wings, tail and feet of a swan. They are renowned for their dance, song and poetry, and are a traditional symbol of feminine beauty, grace and accomplishment. Blended scotch whiskey, house made Thai Amaro, tropical vermouth and orange bitters are used to make this cocktail.

Hem and Lion

Hem and Lion is a creature found in Thai and possibly South Asian mythology. It is said to be the combination of a hem (an ill- defined creature in and of itself; usually likened to a swan but sometimes depicted more like a crocodile) and a lion. Tequila, watermelon, Thai red syrup, hibiscus, saline, citrus and some sugar makes Hem and Lion.

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