Breaking the Bar Code!
It’s easy to labour under the delusion that cocktails exist in that rarefied category of food and drink that mere mortals will never be able to attempt in their home kitchens. Turns out that you couldn’t be more wrong. Mixology is a dashing art alright, with its heady blend of bitters, infusions, liqueurs, and flavoured rim salts that few of us have even heard of in India, let alone considered stocking our home bars with. Thankfully, not all cocktails are precious and finicky, or need the kind of advance planning that makes popping into your local a far more attractive proposition than wowing your friends with your blending skills, as you’d previously planned.
If you’re absolutely insistent on pulling a Salvatore Calabrese or a Joel Heffernan (creators of two of the most expensive cocktails ever to be made) then this article is probably not for you, but most classic cocktails can easily be recreated in your home kitchen or bar. One of my most enduring memories is getting together with friends of a summer evening, and mixing pitcher after pitcher of Mojito that were drained as soon as they were served up, over conversation and nibbles. We often tend to forget that with cocktail parties, food is not secondary to the booze, but plays an equally important role in setting the right tone. I’ve been to far too many cocktail do’s where the hosts took care to appoint a professional bartender to mix the drinks, but served salted nuts and namkeens to go with them - an unacceptable oversight, if there ever was one! There’s a time to keep things basic and fuss free, and there’s a time to put in a bit of thought and creativity, and cocktail parties are definitely the latter.
The wonderful thing about hors d'oeuvres is that there’s quite possibly an infinite variety for you to work with. Look around for what’s fresh, local and in-season around you, and work it up from there. From bruschetta, crostini and variations thereof, to homemade dips and fries, cheesy/meaty/fruity skewers, and bite sized portions of your favourite foods served in individual mini ramekins or shot glasses, there’s much that you can choose from. With a few of these in place, you can pad out the rest of the menu with food that you don’t have to cook, such as olives, stuffed peppers, and nuts.
In the end, the art of mixing a cocktail depends on what you make of it, and what you bring to the table. Don’t be afraid to experiment for fear of the purists - switch up recipes and ingredients, or simply create your own! As Adithya Srinivasan, bartender at The Leela’s Library Bar says, “The key to a great cocktail is a dash of imagination. Recipes can only take you so far - there comes a point in every mixologist’s career where he must be creative, or fail.” So throw out your preconceived notions of shaking and stirring, and try your own unique take on these classic cocktail recipes.
Elevated to iconic status by the Coen brothers’ cult classic, The Big Lebowski, the White Russian is low on fuss but scores on taste and coolness.
Mix 1 part Kahlua to 2 parts Vodka, fill with cream and add 3 ice cubes.
Tip: For that extra kick, freeze freshly brewed coffee in your ice mould to use instead of plain ice.
This classic Cuban cocktail has been infamously and incorrectly pegged as Nobel winning author, Ernest Hemmingway’s favourite drink for decades now . This is a refreshing strawberry twist on it.
- 2 cups strawberries, hulled
- 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
- 10 large and fresh mint leaves
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup white or amber rum
- 1 cup seltzer
- Mint sprigs, lime wedges, or fresh strawberries as for garnish
Combine the strawberries, mint leaves, lime juice, and sugar in a pitcher and crush with a muddler or a wooden spoon until the sugar dissolves (about a minute.)
Add the rum, and gently stir.
Fill four rocks glasses three quarters of the way with ice, and divide the strawberry mojitos equally amongst them. Top each of the glasses with a quarter of the seltzer.
Garnish with strawberries, mint sprigs or lime wedges.
Article by - Sreejita
Picture Credit -
White Russian - Steven Depolo
Strawberry Mojito - Charleston's TheDigitel