Mumbai's mixologists take out the calories to make truly healthy cocktails

Apr 08, 2018, 09:39 IST | Anju Maskeri and Aastha Atray Banan

Kombucha, kefir lime, sugarcane juice - the city's cocktail experts tell Anju Maskeri and Aastha Atray Banan what you can replace your calorie-laden mixer with. Now, officially say bye to hangovers

Almond milk cocktail

Almond milk soda cocktail
Sean Pereira, Bar operations manager, Bombay Vintage
The almond milk soda cocktail at Colaba's Bombay Vintage has an interesting backstory. A couple of months ago, when Sean Pereira, bar operations manager, and his team were researching vintage drinks, they came across a soft beverage called doodh soda consumed by farmers in Peshawar and Punjab during summers to keep themselves hydrated.

Sean Periera prepares the almond milk soda cocktail.  pics/bipin kokate
Sean Periera prepares the almond milk soda cocktail.  pics/bipin kokate

"Because plain cow milk is heavy, they would add a little soda to lighten the drink," he says. However, Pereira wanted to add his own touch. He decided to use almond milk, considered a worthy substitute for cow milk. He began his trials with cashew and coconuts, but the taste and consistency that almond milk produced was unmatched. Then came pairing it with the right alcohol.

"We tried vodka and gin. While vodka didn't add anything significant to the taste, gin was too strong and over powered the other ingredients," he says. Finally, on a staffer's suggestion, they tried bourbon and to their delight it complemented the almond, turmeric and cream soda. The drink is topped with Pastonji's cream soda and served with mandarine orange twist and grated almonds.

>> Jim Beam 60 ml
>> Almond milk 60 ml
>> Grated orange zest
>> Fresh turmeric grind 2 gm
>> Cream soda 110 ml (to top it up)
>> Add almond milk
>> Take fresh turmeric root and grate it in a mixing jar
>> Add the almond milk and stir well till the flavour of fresh turmeric is incorporated
Double strain
>> Add Jim Beam with some ice cubes and shake well this is all chilled and frothy
>> Pour in old fashioned glass
>> Top with Pastonji's cream soda and then serve with mandarine orange twist and grated almonds

That good gut feeling
Julius Fernandes, Mixologist the looney, The lover and the poet
At Khar's The Looney, The Lover and The Poet, "bizarre" experiments with fresh ingredients are common. The results are usually something that your gut will thank you for, insists mixologist Julius Fernandes. Which is why he decided to name one of the cocktails - a blend of kefir, chamomile and honey infused vodka, champagne and homemade strawberry preserves - That good gut feeling.

Julius Fernandes

"There are large number of people who don't drink to get drunk and are constantly seeking out something that teases their palate," he says. After toying with seasonal, all natural, no added sugars, house cordials (sweetened distilled spirit), they progressed to using kefir (a fermented milk drink) and rhododendron (woody plants found in Uttarakhand). He usually begins by checking for the alchemy of ingredients and any possible side effects. "We then built on the layers of flavour and taste," he says.

>> Kefir milk 4 tsp
>> Strawberry preserve 1 tsp
>> Chamomile and honey infused vodka 30 ml
>> Champagne/ sparkling wine 100 ml
>> Muddle the strawberry preserve & kefir mixture. Add infused vodka & top up with chilled champagne
>> Garnish with a slice of dehydrated strawberry

Kombucha Gin

Gin and Kombucha
Gresham Fernandes, Culinary director, Impresario Hospitality and Entertainment Pvt Ltd
It was during a conversation on fermented food that Gresham let it slip that he has altered his Gin & Tonic to now include kombucha. He wanted to reduce his intake of sugar without giving up his drink, and so this was the best option. "Of course it tastes different, because tonic water has a lot of sugar, but it's much healthier.

Chef Gresham Fernandes

I add jaggery in my kombucha, so it makes up for it," he says. His recipe is simple: buy a bottle of kombucha from your neighborhood health shop, mix it with gin, and top it up with ice and squeeze of lime. "I prefer plain kombucha, but you can use the flavoured ones as well, be it apple or mint."

Arjun chaudhary, Bar consultant, Tippling Street
Three years ago, bar consultant Arjun Chaudhary was a lone wolf when he introduced 'bar cuisine' in Mumbai where he would use fruits, vegetables, spices and plants in alcohol. Today it's a thing. "What I love best is that these fresh ingredients when mixed with alcohol don't make you sick," he says.


That the ingredients help combat the side effects of alcohol like headache and dehydration makes the prospect enticing. Keeping this in mind, Chaudhary has introduced concocted Gypsy, a Russian-cuisine inspired vodka cocktail made with homemade vegetable stock comprising fresh beetroot juice, cilantro, basil leaves and chillies at Juhu's Tippling Street.

Arjun Chaudhary prepares the Gypsy. Pics/Sayyed Sameer Abedi
Arjun Chaudhary prepares the Gypsy. Pics/Sayyed Sameer Abedi

"Beetroot is one of those rare vegetables which has travelled around the world and can be used in almost all courses of the menu," he explains. But he cautions that you need to be careful when adding other supporting ingredients especially for drinks. Beetroot goes well with basil, thyme, rosemary, orange and coriander.

>> Vodka 60 ml
>> Homemade beetroot vegetable stock 45 ml
>> Fresh orange chunks 3 pcs
>> Fresh basil leaves 5 leaves
>> Vanilla syrup 15 ml
>> Lime juice 15 ml
>> Take out fresh beetroot juice and blend it with some cilantro and one chilli
>> Put mixture in a pan and let it simmer on low flame for five min
>> Add basil leaves and orange peels in the mixture and place the lid on top. Let the mixture be on low flame for 15 min more
>> Then add orange chunks and basil leaves in a Boston glass. Muddle it gently. Add vodka, stock, vanilla syrup and lime juice. Shake the mixture and serve

White cane sangria
Ami Shroff, Mixologist, London Taxi
Keeping it as natural and fresh as possible is the most important aspect while preparing cocktails," says Ami Shroff of London Taxi. "The quality of ingredients that you add makes all the difference to the end result of the drink or dish."

Ami Shroff

The aim at London Taxi, she says, is that the customer enjoys the overall experience with no hangover. One of the most interesting cocktails they make is using sugarcane juice, in-house ginger honey syrup and pineapple shrub. Shroff adds a kick by throwing in some home spices as well.

Sugarcane Sangria

And so they have decided to make tea the base of the cocktail. "Any spice available in your kitchen will work, or even a combination of spices that you know work well together," she says. The response has been great, she insists, "the customer appreciates the effort and skill required."

Also Read: Mumbai Food: This Bandra Takeaway's Menu Is Perfect For The Health Conscious

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