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If you’ve been doing a celebratory take-away night on say Friday nights this lockdown period, you’ve probably seen bottled cocktails on the menu.
Packaged in cute little bottles, you can now enjoy a martini or a negroni before your meal – without having to make one yourself.
Select Indian restaurants are jumping on the bandwagon.
Urban Tadka, based in Sydney’s Terrey Hills, has had on offer three varieties for a while now – Old Fashioned, Espresso Martini and Margarita. Besides being a way of expanding their services in COVID times, co-owner Inder Dua says, “Bottled cocktails are a fun new addition to our products. It’s great to see our clients loving it, and we’ve really enjoyed bringing on this innovation too.”
Gaurang Gahoi of new Indian restaurant Foreign Return in Sydney’s Surry Hills, says, “As a trend adopted by the industry, it’s about creating an in-house experience of all our on-site experiences. When you go out, you savour the experience of a good bartender – we’re taking this to your home.”
Foreign Return’s takeaway cocktail range is slightly different though. It is “proudly Indian,” Gaurang (or ‘gG’ as he likes to be called) describes.
“We define our food as modern Indian fare based on age-old Indian recipes. So our cocktails are similar – traditional favourites, but edgy, with a spin that’s Indian-inspired.”
How would you Indianise a Negroni?
Add gul, or rose flavour, and viola, the ‘Gul Negroni’ is born.
Foreign Return’s Gul Negroni is a tribute to the 16th century Mughal emperor Babur, (cue factoid here) who loved the rose so much that not only was he known to order camel loads for personal use, he also named his four daughters after his favourite flower.
Gaurang created the Gul Negroni himself.
He admits cheekily, “I’ve always been fond of beverages… but having a rum distillery right next door, helps too!”
Other favourites currently are Spice Rum Old Fashioned and Saffron Fennel Old Fashioned Whiskey.
The whiskey is infused with spices and flavours on site, as are the flavoured syrups such as cardamom syrup, and the dehydrated fruit garnishes such as citrus and blood orange.
“Of course we ensure there’s no compromise on spirits, using premium quality supplies only. So it’s painstaking effort: there’s recipe development, execution, labelling of ingredients, and then bottling.”
The restaurant’s regular cocktail menu has always been a winner, its “pauwa-chakhna” experience especially relished by Indian clients. (Hip Indian readers will know the “pauwa” as the quarter bottle, and the “chakhna” as the nibbles that accompany alcohol – usually deep-fried and served inside a newspaper roll.)
“We are now also batching 500 ml bottles for your home bar, which you can use over the week,” Gaurang reveals. “They come in handcrafted bottles that I’m sure you’ll enjoy.”
Urban Tadka on the other hand, has tied up with an outside manufacturer who prepares the concoctions to the recipes they provide.
“Our bottled cocktails are labelled, sealed, chilled and ready to go,” Inder reveals. “At home, you could drink straight from the bottle, or pour into a glass.”
If you are an Urban Tadka regular and love their signature lycheetinis, you can still order it – as part of the Special Isolation Pack, a unique meal for two packed in a beautiful box.
Pre-batched cocktails are not new of course, having been around for more than a decade now. But they seem to have moved beyond the corporate event and the hotel mini bar, to become the new lockdown luxury.
Seeing a cocktail being made is an experience that cannot be replaced of course, but this comes close. And with the convenience of it all … what are you waiting for? Go on, treat yourself!
READ ALSO: Winter cocktails to make at home
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