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Indian Cocktails

Every month or so, we get together with some friends and have a theme dinner. this month is India.

since I can't cook and everyone else can, I am in charge of drinks.

Does anyone have some tradtional indian cocktails/spirits I should include as part of my contribution?

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  1. Does it have to be cocktails? I would recommend a selection of Rieslings for wine and IPA beers.

    If you want to make cocktails, think of what fruits and spices complement Indian food; since a Mango Lassi is a classic drink, you could twist it with Mango Martinis. Since most Indian food tends towards the spicy, I would think you would want the drinks to be on the sweeter side. There are some amazing mixers out there that could be added for some really original flavors.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Carrie 218

      Thanks, Definitely doesn't have to be cocktails. We do try for authentic though. I like the IPA idea (after 150 years, that qualifies as authentic in my book). I don't really think of wine for Indian, but that could just be my lack of knowledge.

      We will have Mango lassi as well. maybe just spike that.

      1. re: lgphil

        Reconsider wine -- I like beer but I like my beer really, really dark which doesn't necessarily "go" the way and IPA does. Women especially might seriously appreciate a sweet-ish wine more than beer and a really good Riesling is astonishingly great with Indian food.

        Stick with the Kabinetts. Even a Spatlese might be too sweet for some. Depending on how many folks you are having, consider getting two or three different bottles and trying a tasting along with the wines! Get two Kabits and one Spatlese and really experiment. You'll be pleasantly surprised, I assure you!

    2. If you want to really consider an "Indian" cocktail, the classic gin and tonic is a result of British colonialism in the area. Quinine treatments for malaria were cut with gin for added flavor. Probably not something you'd want to pair with a meal, but it has some history behind it and is a wonderful aperitif.

      1 Reply
      1. re: negronilover

        some of the better liquor stores will have "Indian Tonic" imported from the UK. Schweppes makes it. Its a little more authentic, i think.

      2. There are no "traditional" Indian alcoholic drinks. In Hindu scriptures drinking is referred to as one of the five heinous crimes. Many parts of India are "dry" although alcohol is consumed by many.

        The drinks of choice tend towards tea in northern India and coffee in southern India, as well as juices, lemonade, and coconut water, or a lassi- sweet or salty.

        That said, beer is popular. Get some Taj Mahal, Kingfisher, or one of the myriad others.

        Or find a bottle of Fenny (Indian liquor from Goa made from cashew apple juice) and make cocktails with that or mix with tonic or lemonade for a typical drink.

        1. 1. It's not a perfect fit, but a local restaurant does a Tamarind margarita (I think it used to be a tamarind martini, so there may be some room to play around). Not quite sure how they do it, but...


          2. chai martinis are also quite popular right now, and Voyant makes a chai cream liqueur.

          3. india does produce wine! and some of it not-bad, although it may be difficult to source (www.indianwine.com


          4. And I second Kingfisher - and looove the cheekiness of gin and tonics.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Rabbit

            in a teenage Midwestern state of boredom, we'd go the local Krishna temple/cafe, get tamarind tea to go and mix it with Jack Daniels in the car...

            yum - whole new taste treat.

            1. re: Rabbit

              I make a tamarind cocktail with the following:

              20ml Tamarind syrup
              30ml Dry vermouth
              5ml Sweet vermouth
              35ml Gin
              30ml Lemon juice

              Shake and fine-strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

              Tamarind Syrup - boil a block of crushed tamarind in water for around an hour, then fine strain and mix in the same quantity of sugar.

            2. My own preference is to a hoppy pale ale or an off-dry white, something from Alsace, Germany, or Austria. One local high-end Indian near Boston (Tamarind Bay in Cambrdige, one of my favorites, creative without being fusion-y) offers an Indian white wine, but I haven't tried it.

              1. I am from India and have concocted my own version and serve when I invite people. I take dark rum and add mango pulp (available in indian stores) and fresh ginger, put it in blender with ice and whip it. Mango pulp is already sweet. Vary proportions according to your taste. I tend to use lot ginger. You should be able to taste all flavors, rum, mango and ginger.

                1. My favorite beverage with Indian food is a good Riesling. Few wines compare to the pairing of most any Indian food from creamy curries to firey vindalhos. I run a distillery in Oregon, Sub Rosa Spirits, and we've come up with a slew of Indian inspired cocktails. Alas, we are only available in Oregon, Washington and California. The Saffron vodka has notes of toasted cumin, lemony orange, ginger, black peppers, red chilis and perfumey saffron. I think your friend might like these.


                  This drink has a pale yellow orange cast to if from the Saffron vodka and Cointreau. The aroma is warm and familiar, yet totally unidentifiable - toasted cumin wafting over orange liqueur and fresh lime. Think of it like a golden Cosmopolitan minus the juice.

                  2 ounces Sub Rosa Saffron infused vodka
                  1 ounce Cointreau, Grand Marnier or a high quality Triple-sec
                  1/2 ounce fresh squeezed lime juice
                  2 dashes Orange bitters

                  Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker with cracked ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass, and garnish with a long twist of lime. The lime juice has got to be fresh. Will see if I need to add juice to this and make it more cosmo like.
                  Named after Nagpur India, the hub of the Indian orange trade. Nagpur is the physical center of the country, the point from where all the distances in India are measured.


                  2 oz. Sub Rosa Saffron vodka
                  3 oz. Mango juice or orange juice. Apricot nectar was the original ingredient.
                  2 grinds Black pepper
                  1 oz. Riesling based simple syrup

                  Chill over ice, shake vigorously, serve up. Alternatively, build and serve on the rocks.
                  adapted from Lance Mayhew - Meriwether's - Portland, Ore.

                  Bharat Mary

                  2 oz. Sub Rosa Saffron vodka
                  3 dashes Worcestershire
                  1 dash Peychauds bitters
                  3 dashes hot sauce (or more)
                  fresh Carrot juice (to fill) [though I use tomato juice or V8]
                  Celery salt (to taste)

                  Garnish with Indian pickled carrots and peppers

                  Hot Night in Mambi

                  1-1/2 oz Sub Rosa Tarragon vodka
                  1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
                  1/2 oz simple syrup
                  Fresh mint leaves
                  7 Up / Sprite / Squirt
                  Lemon twist and mint sprig garnish

                  Muddle a pinch of mint leaves with the lemon juice, simple syrup in bottom of rocks glass. Fill the glass with ice, pour in the vodka, and fill with 7Up. Pour the ingredients into a mixing tin and back into a rocks glass. Garnish with a lemon twist and mint sprig.

                  South Goa Breeze

                  2 ounces of Sub Rosa Tarragon vodka
                  Splash of Cointreau
                  2 ounces of ginger ale
                  Orange slice

                  Add the vodka and Cointreau to a shaker full of ice. Shake well. Pour into a highball glass. Add ginger ale to taste. (The recipe ratio is one-to-one.) Garnish with an orange slice. Goa is a state in southern India bordering on the Indian Ocean and is famous for their beaches.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Herbalist

                    I've tried several of these cocktails when I was reviewing the Sub Rosa Saffron and they are pretty good cocktails.



                    1. re: Herbalist

                      Herbalist, I am in Portland; where would I go to buy your Sub Rosa Saffron vodka? A group of us is going out to an Indian restaurant; we are in charge of beverages and appetizers beforehand. I love the idea of a simple Riesling (on the dryer or sweeter side??), but these cocktails look delicious too! Thanks in advance for the information.

                      1. re: altaone

                        Check Sub Rosa's web site for a list of Portland liquor stores selling the saffron and the tarragon vodka.


                        But call first - the store at 11th & Hawthorne (downtown) was out of the saffron last week. I never did buy any when I was in town - I wanted to try some first, but didn't manage to get to a bar that has Sub Rosa. Darn...


                    2. there is a fantastic rum made in india, called Old Monk. dark rum, with hints of vanilla and caramel flavors. not as dark as goslings or myers, but with a really rich round taste.

                      indian beers include san miguel and kingfisher among others.

                      fenni can be made from cashews or coconut, but i have no idea if you can find it outside of india (i could barely find it outside of goa)

                      there are indeed indian wines now, but i cant reember any great ones off hand

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: thew

                        Ahh Feni. Gotta love indiginous liquors.

                        You can get Kazkar brand cashew Feni at at least two Internet sites. One is the remarkably literal...SendLiquor a web retailer located in Princton, NJ. http://www.sendliquor.com/id129511lis... What, no 'Big Boss', 'Cashyo' or 'Reals' brand too? Kazkar Feni is also at WineGlobe for considerably less than the NJ location. http://www.wineglobe.com/11007.html

                        In the traditional method of making cashew Feni, the cashew apples are manually crushed on a rock, which is carved or shaped like a basin with an outlet for the juice. The juice is collected in a huge earthen pot called Kodem, which is buried in the ground. The juice is then distilled in earthen or copper pots.

                        According to available data about 4,000 mini traditional distilleries are known to exist in Goa, manufacturing cashew Feni and about 2,200 tiny distilleries manufacturing coconut Feni.

                        Here's a blurb from the importers....

                        Kazkar Feni ~ Triple distilled from the fruit of a cashew in Goa, India, there is nothing on earth like a Grateful Dead show... no, make that a bottle of 80-proof Kazkar Feni. These guys are obviously evangelist for Fenni. Kazkar Feni is brought to you by Bringing Feni To The World, (Concord, Ca) in conjunction with Global Spirits & Foods (Goa, India). Visit www.goafeni.com for more information.

                        A clear spirit Kazkar Feni is not a martini, not a brandy but has entirely it's own unique taste and bouquet. We have made substantial investments in Goa to create a blend that would appeal to the versatile tastes of the international market. Kazkar Feni could be enjoyed straight or as an exotic new mixer.

                        1. re: thew

                          Actually Old Monk is about as dark as Myers's, and the same shade as Gosling's 151 (I don't have a bottle of the regular black seal at the moment.)