Moneycontrol PRO

India’s top bartenders recommend 7 new drinks for your home bar

Their picks: Normindia Gin, Saelto Mezcal Blanco, Mezcal Creyente, Four Pillars Olive Leaf Gin, Teremana tequila, Quaffine coffee liqueur, and Del Maguey Mezcal.

February 18, 2023 / 06:26 PM IST
New agave-based mezcal drinks, liqueurs, gins, and rums to try as 2023 unfurls.

New agave-based mezcal drinks, liqueurs, gins, and rums to try as 2023 unfurls.

The search for new spirits for the home bar is a relentless one. There is, after all, so much to discover. As 2023 unfurls itself, we spoke to some of India’s top bartenders, folks who shone at the recently held 30 Best Bars India 2022, an annual bar ranking and awards event, for recommendations on new brands they are keen on getting their hands on and the bars they want to hit. Here is what they told us:

Santanu Chanda, Home, New Delhi

Santanu Chanda, who picked up the best bartender award at 30 Best Bars India 2022, has had stints at, among others, the Buddha Bar Dubai. At Home, the high-end bar at PVR Director’s Cut, he is especially proud of the Oromo, which features whisky, goat cheese, cold brew, and orange bitters, and the clarified Milk Punch that blends banana flowers, black cardamom, pineapple, and citric acid and bourbon.

DelmagueyChanda’s recommendations: “I’m not a big rum drinker, but I’ve heard great things about Camikara (the country’s first pure cane juice rum launched late last year by Piccadily Distilleries, which also makes Indri Trini Single Malt),” says Chanda who sees tequila and mezcal taking off in a big way in India. The one brand that has caught his attention is Del Maguey Mezcal. Owned by Pernod Ricard, the artisanal mezcal is made by individual family producers in Oaxaca and Pueblo using 400-year-old methods.

What about the one bar he’d love to visit? “Sips Barcelona. Its cocktails are clever and inventive,” says Chanda.

Also read: Kraken Black and 6 more spiced rums to try, and how to drink them

Sarath Nair, Copitas, Bangalore

At Copitas, which is located at the Four Seasons and ranked number 2 in the 30 Best, Sarath Nair creates cocktails such as the Root. “It is inspired by Kerala, where I hail from, and is a tribute to the Nannari (Sarasparilla) sherbet,” says Nair. The Root features Vodka infused vetiver or khus clarified with local nannari syrup, lime and milk.

Nair’s recommendations: “I’m pretty kicked about Quaffine, the cold brew coffee liqueur launched by Nikhil Varma (former gin distiller at Amrut Distilleries) and Olson Pereira (beverage consultant),” says Nair who was excited about his upcoming visit to Native Bombay, which is located in a 145-year-old ice factory, that houses a restaurant along with a Negroni-only bar.


Lopsang Lama, assistant manager, Sidecar, New Delhi

Lopsang Lama is part of the reason why Sidecar retained its number 1 ranking on the 30 Best Bars list this year. The South Delhi bar is famous, and justifiably so, for drinks such as The Sidecar, which is made with house-blend cognac, sandalwood cordial, lemon juice and orange blossom water.

Lama’s recommendations: Lama hopes to sample Teremana tequila this year — the earlier the better. Teremana, founded by actor Dwayne Johnson in 2020 and backed by German liquor company Mast-Jaegermeister, is among America’s top-selling tequilas. The small batch tequila is distilled in Jalisco, Mexico.

Lama’s fondness for tequila is also reflected in the one bar he’d love to visit — Coa, in Hong Kong. “Jay Khan set it up with the aim of spotlighting agave spirits, and to me, it’s the ultimate tequila-mezcal bar,” says Lama.

Dwayne Johnson's Teremana tequila distillery in Jalisco. (Photo: AP) Dwayne Johnson's Teremana tequila distillery in Jalisco. (Photo: AP)

Jishnu A J, head mixologist, Ekaa, Mumbai

The ingredients-first Ekaa is a kind of space where the unpretentious thecha transforms into a dip, thanks in part to potato silk, and is served with a churro. You should ideally be teaming that up with Jishnu’s Petrichor, a blend of mezcal, coconut vermouth, gooseberry and calcium stone — and, to finish things off, a touch of petrichor ittar.

Jishnu’s recommendations: “I’ve heard a lot about Four Pillars (cult Australian gin distillery) and hope to acquire their entire range this year,” says Jishnu. The Four Pillars range includes the Bloody Shiraz Gin, the barrel-aged Single Barrel Release S36, and the Olive Leaf Gin that is made with olive leaf tea and olive oil.

The one bar Jishnu wants everyone to visit is Re, in Sydney, which was launched in 2021 by maverick British bartender Matt Whiley, and is billed as the world’s first no-waste bar.

Four Pillars Olive Leaf Gin Four Pillars Olive Leaf Gin

Ankush Gamre, head mixologist, Masque, Mumbai

Gamre curates and drives technique-driven cocktails at the Masque and at its bar, The Living Room.

Gamre’s recommendations: “Normindia Gin is an exceptional product,” says Gamre. “It’s made with about 15 botanicals at the Coquerel distillery in Normandy, and sipping it like biting into a fresh apple.” Gamre is also keeping an eye out for Saelto Mezcal Blanco and Mezcal Creyente.

His advice to spirits enthusiasts who are travelling to London is to head for Tayer + Elementary. “It’s like two bars in one — you have both a regular bar and a mad space with a menu that changes very often,” says Gamre.

Also read: Three great wines with an Indian connection at Mumbai's Les Bouchons

Murali K Menon works on content strategy at HaymarketSAC.