New Delhi October
Text : Uma Nair
Seduction, shaken & stirred
An English bartender offers tips on stirring up heady cocktails for women
Imagine an English bartender who creates cocktails for eves and doesn't balk at you when you say your knowledge of spirits is zilch. "It's easy," says the latest dude in town. "I look at a woman intuitively, feel the vibes, the animation and start creating a cocktail."
As you watch him create the Sake infusion, the process is a passionate foray into a few minutes. The shaker, the stirrer, the plum compote, the thinly laced Hendricks gin, each ingredient is a subtle play of sensual savoring.
It will happen quietly this weekend, but a part of Tea House of the August Moon at Taj Palace has been transformed into a soft-spoken hideaway with the Blue Bar signaling the much lauded drink list. Meet Nick Hawkins who seems more like a mixologist with an eye for creating seductive spirits for women.
"A cocktail must have the buzz and taste factor," he says, "Ice must be fresh, better to create your own at home and always crush." He adds, "Your fruit pulp/puree must be fresh and made from the fruit, not out of a can, only then will your drink have aroma. Remember, whatever you add you cannot take away, so be frugal and cautious. Tiny bits make the whole."
Nick believes that anything that goes into a cocktail must be original, be it an orange juice, cardamom agave, or even a yuzu cocktail spiked with twelve year old Yamazaki whiskey. So what's in the works at the Blue Bar? It's handcrafted granite walls and long slim windows are strong and sexy speakeasy with a twist, the feel of energy is so infectiously artisan and avant-garde at one breath.
You recall Sean Connery drinking a rye-bread inspired rye-whisky old fashioned made with caraway-seed-infused bourbon. "Infusions and creating a medley of aromas and signatures for women with attitude."
So when he hands me another cocktail called "Blood and Sand", it's a befitting glass of conviviality in a single gesture, 'India is a place for fruits," says Nick. "The passion fruit itself is marvelous, I prefer the sour ones from North East." Passion fruit juice in a cocktail? Sounds like a bar crawl you've never done. So cocktails for women would match our demeanor.
While sari-clad me gets the Matahari, I guess that sexy 20 something would get a magical Mezcal - the drink that blends honey, agave nectar and fresh avocado, a bracing slush of an aura of healthfulness.
Or perhaps if you are a bold and 30-something, he would give you a bright, crisp, and citrusy affair made with pineapple infused Mezcal, lime juice, sugarcane syrup, and Negra Modelo, with a spicy salt rim and a cold ice cube.
"Women are about aura," says Nick and you can't help smiling while you tip the last sip of a heady cocktail. Elegant eves, here is a bar that will give you perfectly balanced renditions that are classic, modern and eclectic.
Place the plum Compote and Sake into a Boston glass. Stir until the Compote dissolves. Add the rest of the ingredients and shake with cubed ice. Then double strain into a frozen martini glass. Finally, drop the half Japanese plum into the glass and serve.