New openings, new trends, new techniques with the turn of every season, the food and beverage industry is undergoing a prime phase when it comes to creativity. As peak summer takes its place in India for now, cooling liquids is a go-to throughout the country. Add a dash of alcohol to the glass, and it makes the weather even more endurable. Whether it’s to beat the heat, a glass over a work lunch, or just an evening out with drinks, we’ve tracked the summer cocktail trends doing the rounds this year, and here’s what you must try during your next tipple time.
The indigenous movement has taken over all industries recently, and the alcohol-beverage segment isn’t far behind. We’ve come a long way from electric blue and bubblegum pink cocktails filled with chemicals to celebrating flavours of India in our drinks. Think jamuntinis (jamun martini), vodka shikanjis, iced Assam tea, curry powder, kari patta, mango, paan, turmeric, and many more ingredients that bring out the country’s traditional taste notes on menus this season. As Shehan Minocher, the brand ambassador of Moet Hennessey, spoke to us, “Tea works beautifully to sort of give the summery feel…we make an iced tea with the Hennessey cognac – unsweetened Assamese tea, a little lime and sugar, shaken on ice and served with an orange twist – so, orange makes it an aromatic, super refreshing drink, light and easy for the summer.”
A sleeper trend, this one’s gradually growing across restaurants and bars. With hosts realising that not always does one want an entire meal or even appetiser while having a drink, but does mostly look for something to munch on, they’ve introduced a solution to the dilemma. Now, you get your cocktail accompanied by a small snack on the side. Think toasties, papdi, small croquettes, dates, paan, tarts, finger sandwich, et al to bite into as you sip that tipple. So, if all you want to do is drink, do so with abandon without the worry of that tiny nibble on the side and lining your stomach by ordering undesired amounts of food.
“Mint does beautifully in summer…other ingredients that are great for summer are cucumbers, oranges, grapefruit, these are good for dark spirits,” says Minocher. He also shared the fruit and herb combinations that work well for the season, such as orange and basil, grapefruit and thyme, watermelon and kaffir lime leaves, grapefruit and cinnamon, and strawberries and mint. So if you’re looking for a cooler that keeps the temperatures low despite the alcohol content, lookout for these ingredients in your glass.
Move over Old Monk, there’s a whole new generation of homegrown spirits and non-alcoholic beverages taking over the Indian alco-bev landscape. Gins, whiskies, beers, tonic waters…the indigenous movement has another face and these made in India products are championing it. The new brands make an effort to remain close to Indian flavour profiles, ensure freshness, and are making quality synonymous with Indian made products.
Sparkling wine, champagne, spritz, and vodka are summer essentials. A dash of sparkling water to the cocktails help add “acidity, it gives a cleaner flavour to it, and effervescence” as Minocher said. “In terms of cognac, a lot of people perceive it as a winter drink, but it works beautifully well in summer, it just depends on what you mix it with,” he shared, adding that other dark spirits such as whiskey too can be used for cocktails in the hot season. “You can’t go wrong with any sour.” Bourbon and rum are also making an entry as recurring spirits on the summer cocktails menus