Of Whiskey Cocktails

Last night was one of the most packed I ever saw at Take 5. And there is no fun to match such occasions for a man behind the bar. More so if he has to churn cocktails and more cocktails. However there was a small detail that was a bit different about last night compared to most packed cocktail nights.

At the backdrop of live texas blues music that "Ministry of Blues" was drumming out, I was super busy manufacturing the regular stuff - pitchers of Margaritas, some Cosmos, a Martini here, a Mai Tai there. What made the night different was two things.

1) Good friend of mine came to the bar with a drink in her hand asking me to desperately fix her wrongly done Manhattan and later for asked for an Old Fashioned as well.
2) A regular patron at the bar wanted to do something unusual and I suggested a Boilermaker.

Now Whiskey cocktails are not quite regular at any bar in India. You would very rarely find people in India wanting to drink a Manhattan, forget an Old Fashioned which most wouldn`t even know. At best - a Whiskey sour. The fact that these are classic cocktails and probably quaffed in quite abundancy anywhere abroad has got no relevance here. Similarly Boilermaker - a whiskey shot with a beer chase is unheard of in these parts of the world. Shots in India are mostly Tequila or sweet/sour vodka shots with lots of fruit syrups. So I am on a rampage to do my bit of teaching people who come to the bar on "how to drink"!! In this blogpost I will give you the recipes ofBoilermaker, Manhattan & Old Fashioned.

Boilermaker (A whisky shot and a beer chase)
Officialy called a Boilermaker,choose whiskey of you choice - bourbon, blended scotch, single malt, rye or whatever. Shoot it, gulp it. Pick up a pint of your favourite beer and down some of it immedietly. Some popular combinations are

1) Jameson & Guiness
2) Jack Daniels & Budwiser
3) Yamazaki & Asahi
4) Tequila (Although not a whisky) & Coronoa

A classic martini drink, many bars serve it in a rocks glass, which I do not like much. The whiskey in the drink should be a Bourbon. If you change it to any other whisky as tennesse,rye or scotch, the taste will surly vary. Vermouth - the italian fortified wine - should be the sweet one , also called Rosso. The drink must not be shaken. Its a stir drink.

60 ml Bourbon (Jim Beam Black mostly available in India)
2o ml Sweet Vermouth (Rosso)

Pour Ingredients into a shaker with Ice. Stir and fine strain into a Martini glass with a marchino cherry dropped in as garnish. A dash of bitters while stirring into the shaker is optional. The taste is water diluted bourbon with a slight sweet hint.

An improvisation of the drink is Dry Manhattan (Bourbon & Dry Vermouth), Perfect Manhattan (Bourbon, Dry Vermouth & Sweet vermouth).

My friend found the drink very bitter (wonder what happ!!) and asked me to do something to it. I added a dash of triple sec and shook it on ice again and gave it back to her. And she loved it. I guess the pure taste of a Manhattan needs repeated drinking to develop a taste for it.

Old Fashioned
Also supposed to be the world`s first cocktail. Simple to make but easy to goof. Whiskey of your choice can be used. Place a cube of sugar in a rocks glass and muddle it in a dash of bitters. Fill the glass with ice cubes and pour whiskey over. Splash of soda ll do great help. An orange slice with a lime twist and a couple of maraschino cherries is a garnish. I wonder why maraschino cherries are a garnish in most whiskey based drinks. Anyways.....

My goof last nite with this drink - did not use soda, did not use garnish. Criminal,I know.....I blame it on the packed nite.

So next time you ignore all advice about never drinking whiskey cocktails, I suggest you try one of the above. A boiler maker is a good party starter, a Manhattan a nice drink to hold through an evening and an Old Fashioned a perfect nightcap!!

Blue Bar, Delhi

Its been quite sometime since I have returned from Delhi. I have been wanting to scrape a few lines about what I considered the highlight of this January trip, apart from the incorrigable Delhi fog , - the mecca of cocktails, The Blue Bar at Taj Palace Hotel, Chanakyapuri.

The purpose of visiting the bar was not to have drinks or do a review of the place. Good friend and master mixologist -
Nick Hawkins mans this bar and I just wanted to meet him, since I was in this part of the country. And I got a bonus and a shot of jealousy when I checked out his daily space of work. Blue Bar, Delhi is not just another bar in a 5 star hotel. It is a mosh pit of the most plushest things your could lay your eyes on. Everything at this bar is unique and shows the kind of attention to detail that has been given.

Blue bar has a fabulous alfresco section by the pool besides its great art deco interiors. The interiors have been done by Pool Associates, Singapore who have done some of the best bars of the world. The bar top alone is worth USD 30K - imported metal blocks that shine their golden strips under the lights. The super high ceiling and tall wave curtains give an illusion of space. This bar is no joke as all the glassware comes from UK. Each and every peice of glass is imported. Taj group has spent a whoppinig 8 crores on this bar.

Nick has written the cocktail menu. He has clearly demonstrated what a master mixologist can do if you give him the correct space. Nick`s menu has three sections: Signatures, Revivals and Topshelf.

The Signatures is a section which clearly brings out the creativity and experience that bartenders like Nick can boast of. Drinks like Matahari and Belgravia are hallmark to this section. Nick has been given the freedom to experiment and he is not afraid to do that. Bacon infused bourbon and cigar infused vodkas are used in his signatures. The Revivals section truly bring to life an era of cocktails that are long gone or even possibly unknown in India. Corpse Reviver, Blood and Sand, New York Flip - I am doubtful if you will ever find these on any cocktail menus in India. Its as it is difficult to lay hands on the sinful ingredients that some of these need and hence imported. Topshelf cocktails are popular cocktails made with ultra premium spirits - Mojito made with Rum Agricole (Sugarcane based rum) , Margaritas made with Petron Tequila etc.

Guzzle - dark rum (not Old Monk - Bacardi Black), bitters, pineapple juice and lemon charged with Ginger beer is what Nick made for me while talking about the place.Blue bar uses only premiun brands, be it straight drinks or cocktails. The pouring vodka is Absolut, pouring rum is Havana Club, pouring gin is Tanquery.

This apart the collection of single malts, liquers and premium spirits is just unbelievable. I have been previliged to see and taste a designer vodka on the shelves of Blue Bar.
"ROBERTO CAVALI" vodlka - can you imagine. Has a very short after taste, doesnot burn at all and is sooper smooth. "Silk on the bum" - Nicks words.

Music at Blue Bar comes straight from the record case of
Blue Frog. You can imagine the quality and kind yourself.

I did not have time to look at the food menu and apologise not being able to comment on that. That is not my forte anyway. One round of cocktails for two would burn 12-1500 bucks. So next time you are in Delhi and you feel like a real cocktail.....do make your way to The Blue Bar!!!

About Shank

Shank is a cocktail enthusiast & a self-proclaimed mixologist. He likes to experiment with spirits. He has traveled around a bit visiting hundreds of bars and tasting the buzziest of alcohols, cocktails and shooters.

Shank spent early years of his dizziness in Mumbai. He has lived in Hyderabad for long and for the past few years is chilling his glass in Bangalore.

He is currently busy spreading his love for spirits through this blog - Cocktail Nirvana.

This blog is part of his ongoing quest for fine spirits, creative cocktails and classic mixology. These online journals will capture his cocktail inventions, adventures with alcohol, trips to bars, meeting with ace mixologists, lessons in the art of drinking and much more.

This apart, ignoring good judgment, the fine folks at www.mybangalore.com also allow him to take up valuable space on their portal with his words & pictures.

Away from Nirvana