Mumbai food: Bartender duo's whiskey-cheese cocktail enters records
Mumbai duo’s experiment makes it to the World’s Most Experimental Bartender competition’s top 10
Brijesh Vyas (right) and Prateeksh Mehra at work. Pic/Poonam Bathija
WHAT happens when you put a cheese-maker and a mixologist in the same room and ask them to create something the world has never tasted before? That was precisely the brief given to two Mumbai boys — Prateeksh Mehra and Brijesh Vyas — when they entered the World’s Most Experimental Bartender competition. A contest held by premium single malt manufacturer Glenfiddich, it’s sui generis in the tipple territory, where participants are encouraged to collaborate with masters from across fields to co-create an inventive drinking experience. The pairings are picked by the organisers, which is how Mehra and Vyas first met. The India leg of the competition was held in October and this is the first time an Indian team has made it to the finale which, this year was held in Dufftown, Scotland. Mehra and Vyas were up against 10 countries including Australia, Germany, UK, Switzerland and the US.
What the duo came up with was a whiskey and cheese cocktail. Called the New Dufftown Glory Fizz, it blended whiskey with cheese soda to create a fizzy and refreshing blend, with a savoury after-taste. “While cheese and whiskey pairings are common, no one had blended them in a drink before,” says 32-year-old cheese-maker Mehra, who runs The Spotted Cow Fromagerie, a creamery based in Mumbai known for its artisinal cheese. “We extracted the fat from the cheese and used it to make the cream soda. The technicality of this cocktail was a challenge. Also whiskey is an aged product, as is cheese — we used a seven-eight week-old Camembert, that had a strong, pungent flavour. The idea was to bring these two aged products together,” he explains.
The New Dufftown Glory Fizz
As smooth as the resulting blend was, the lead up to it was uphill. “We struggled to get the blend right until the last day before the competition,” recalls Vyas, supervising bartender at Lower Parel’s new gastropub Koko. They had two weeks to come up with something. “It’s perfect for a brunch cocktail. We did a few rounds here at our pub and people were quite surprised. A whiskey like Glenfiddich is typically consumed with water or on the rocks. So, when people saw us put cheese in it, they couldn’t believe it. The best part is they loved the taste,” adds the 27-year-old who has been in the business for a little over four years now.
The judges at Dufftown loved it too, and, had it not been for the US team which presented a concoction of cooked cocktails, these Mumbai boys could well have clinched the title. Struan Grant Ralph, global brand ambassador, Glenfiddich, who was on the judges panel is all praise for the Mumbai boys. “They brought a new way of thinking, talking about the shared tradition of cheese making and whisky creation and how the two entities can go hand in hand, even in one cocktail. They also used the fat washing technique to bring a rich texture to a well balanced cocktail,” Ralph says.
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