Fruity, saccharine, savoury, tart – any veteran tippler worth his or her salt knows that when it comes to cocktails, there is a dizzying variety to get high on. A quick scan through the alcohol menus across bars in the city reveals some incredibly creative concoctions that put a boozy spin on just about anything – from the South East Asian culinary combination of galangal and kaffir lime to Assam tea, and even your grandmother’s homemade achaar! There is, however, a dearth of spirits for some of us spice connoisseurs who like our alcohol as hot and fiery as our food. Still, here is a short list of the few we did manage to dig up.
Syrakko, for instance, blends some potent tequila with a reduction prepared from pineapple and jalapeño, to make for a margarita in which the former’s natural sweetness offsets the latter’s biting notes. A few drops of lime juice and sugar balance out the overall pungency, making it a nice, zingy drink.
The Mugshot Lounge takes on a similar concept, but uses it in a martini – their ‘spicetini’ has vodka spiked with jalapeño and hints of Tabasco. A tinge of Worcesterchire sauce brings in an eccentric, vinegary-garlicky dimension to the glass and some lime juice cuts through the strong aroma. Effingut’s ‘red spicy’ is a more basic version of this – they make a shandy out of Tabasco, grenadine and some freshly brewed beer – simple and effective.
Bar Bar uses the unparalleled power of some Mexican hot sauce, prepared from a combination of peppers, to spice up its Bloody Mary, which is otherwise an innocuous mixture of vodka, tequila and some tomato sauce. A light sprinkling of black pepper puts in an additional zesty punch, and the result is a cocktail with an alarmingly red hue that shakes you out of your reverie.
The Urban Foundry sticks to the fundamentals and uses the good old green chillies to add a burst of piquancy to one of their very refreshing cocktails featuring gin, mint and some rooh afza for that delicious touch of nostalgia. Another ingenious creation here is the guntur chilli Michelada which is an unusual combination of beer, sangrita and a paste prepared from the famous Andhra Pradesh-origin red chilli variety – the eclectic elements make for a complex overall flavour profile. Similarly, Margarita Deck offers a brew that contains the world’s purportedly hottest chilli, muddled with tequila, cointreau, and hand-extracted lime – as the menu aptly warns: definitely not meant for the faint of heart.
The Bombay Bronx rustles up a caprioska made from the eye-wateringly spicy ‘pani puri’ water born on the streets of Mumbai that we all love to slurp up in the end. Made from a spice mix comprising mint, coriander, green and red chilli powders, and chaat masala among other things, you can customise the spice levels to your liking, just like you would at a roadside chaat stall.
Finally, Blue Frog has come up with a gorgeous wasabi bloody Mary that infuses the fierce Japanese condiment into chilled vodka, resulting in an exciting pick-me-up that makes not just your head spin but also your nose tingle!