Plump balloons, perfectly round and bursting with coloured water are being packed into giant buckets while kids are stocking up on fancy water guns, the shapes of which will put an army to shame. Clearly, preparations for Holi, a big highlight of India’s cultural calendar, have begun. The festival of colours, where revellers sprinkle vibrant gulaal on each other and even pelt friends and neighbours with water balloons, also marks the onset of spring. While the balloon slinging lasts only until the end of the day, Holi’s pairing with thandai and other crazy tipples go on a bit longer. So, this Holi, plan a pub crawl and quaff your way through a raft of hip cocktails with an Indian twist that are being served in bunta bottles (glass bottles with marble stoppers) in watering holes across Delhi.
Farzi Café has the Aam Papad Bunta, which is a refreshing mix of vodka, fresh aam papad, chaat masala, ripe mango juice and fresh lime juice. What is more, the bunta cocktail is even bottled in-house for an authentic feel.
Teddy Boy whisks up a mean Indian Tom Collins in a bunta bottle, and the drink boasts of ingredients such as gin, sugar syrup, lime juice, aam panna syrup, freshly-ground cumin and chaat masala. The drink is garnished with an orange slice and a cherry.
If you are a whisky person, hotfoot it to Hauz Khas Social, which has a bunta cocktail named Teacher’s Whisky Pudhina Khus. The concoction is a blend of Teacher’s Highland Cream whisky, khus syrup, homemade masala (read dried rosemary, thyme, sage, dry onion powder and sea salt ground together), mint leaves, bottled water, and homemade sweet and sour syrup (an essential cocktail ingredient that’s made from scratch at the bar).
Bunta Bar will help you get high in style with its Namkeen Gup. A bunta cocktail that is big on gin, Namkeen Gup also has sweet lime juice, jaggery syrup, rock salt, crushed pepper as well as a sweet lime wheel for garnish.
SodaBottleOpenerWala’s cocktail menu highlight is an elixir called the Rustom Bantawala, a potent mix of vodka, aam panna, mango juice, lemon juice and home-made masala (roasted and powdered cumin seeds, white pepper, jaljeera, chaat masala and salt).
It seems like bunta cocktails are taking over the world of booze. Not only do their local Indian flavours complement the Holi spirit perfectly, they also make for refreshing sips through the year. So let us say cheers to these spring-flavoured concoctions.
Susmita Saha is a Delhi-based Features Writer. She has worked as an Assistant Editor at India Today and The Telegraph and writes on arts and culture, films, travel, food, architecture, design and various other lifestyle subjects. She has seriously itchy feet and plans to tick the world off her bucket list, one burger at a time.