Yauatcha's infusion menu is a fresh and potent blend of varied botanicals, spices and fruits
Over the last six months, Merwyn Alphonso, assistant bar manager, Yauatcha, has travelled to the nooks and crannies of Mumbai foraging for botanicals that he could infuse into his cocktails. The bar is proof of his labour. Lined on the shelves are canisters containing spirits that have been macerating in the dark room for days. These are infusions that have made the cut. "Some batches turned out fine, others didn't," he says. "We had to taste the concoction routinely, until we got it right. Every little detail such as temperature, heat and light, had to be looked into because a minor imbalance could ruin the infusion."
Alphonso and team seem to have passed the litmus test. Their new infusion cocktail menu boasts of 30 offerings (all priced at Rs 950) that have been concocted using a variety of herbs, fruits and spices. To make it easy for the guest to navigate, the drinks are divided into sections—citrus and aperitif, fruity and fresh, and aged and experimental. "In India, a lot of proprietary brands are not available. For example, Suze, a pleasingly bitter French apéritif made from the gentian root, which grows in Switzerland and France, is hard to come by. Overall, there's a dearth of good bitters or vermouth used in international mixology. There was no option, but to create these in-house," says Abhishek Bindal, vice president (operations), KA Hospitality. The idea to create an array of infusions stemmed from the need to offer more depth to the libations.
The experience begins at the sensory level when you sniff the cocktail before you get on to actually sipping it. But before that, Bindal wants us to sample the infusions in order to get a sense of the potency of the herbs and fruits. The Melon Sour potion is so delicious that we wouldn't mind having it on the rocks. But its transformation into cocktail certainly lends to its complexity. The floral components in the drink made with home-made melon liqueur, Absolut vodka, elderflower and lemon, are evident and it could easily be your favourite at a drunch. Although grouped in one category, each cocktail has a distinct flavour profile. Take for instance, the Aquavit Mule made with home-made aquavit (a distilled spirit produced in Scandinavia), Absolut vodka, lychee, lime and ginger ale. Flavour wise both Melon Sour and Aquavit Mule are radically different. While the former is bright and fruity, the mule is herby with a savoury kick. An interesting offering in the citrus and apéritif section is Jing Mei made with floral tea liqueur, Beefeater gin and sake. It is crisp and fresh and could be a nice summer special. "The alcohol is brewed exactly the way one would brew tea," says Alphonso. The White Negroni made with gentian liqueur, Beefeater gin, and dry vermouth is for the more evolved palette. Here, the Campari is replaced by Suze and the result is a drink that leans on the bitter side.
Overall, the infusion menu seems to be Yauatcha's vault to create "next level" cocktails. While not all drinks may be your street, it seems like they have something for everyone.
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