Sugar, spice and all things nice

Summer cocktails

For mixologist Ajay Nayyar, a great cocktail can also be created with basic ingredients available at home. So he recently got down to teach people how to make some vodka-based cocktails, during a summer cocktails masterclass.

While explaining the amounts of alcohol and ingredients that goes into each cocktail, Nayyar, during the Delhi chapter of USL-Diageo’s IPL cocktails session, also mentioned how well every drink should be stirred or shaken and how to make the simplest summer cocktail.

In a candid conversation with Metrolife, he shares his views on the role of mixologists in the food and beverage (F&B) industry.

Excerpts:

What is the purpose of this masterclass?
It was all about those times when you’re holding a drink while at home, and imagining what can be done with it. So I’ve tried to teach people about those cocktails here which can be made with basic ingredients like mango, coriander, eggs, which are easily available at home.

What are the basic ingredients for summer cocktails?
For summer cocktails, the available flavours are those of coconut water, watermelon juice, musk melons, cucumbers etc. These are the ideal ingredients which are used
in most cocktails during summer.

Which combinations of ingredients are in demand?
For me, mango and chilli go very well with each other. Also, cucumber and ginger are good combinations. People also like watermelon and basil.

Which is the simplest cocktail that you can make at home?
It’s called Espresso League. You can use Smirnoff espresso vodka and pour cola over it. That’s the easiest cocktail you can make at home.

What are the technicalities involved in preparing cocktails?
A good cocktail is always made with a spirit which is citrus, sweet and has a certain flavour. Also, one needs to see what glass they are picking up. If it’s a tall glass of about 500 ml, the important part is to fill it. If the cocktail is about 100 ml, it will include 60 ml vodka, 10 ml lime and 10 ml sugar syrup. So something is needed to fill the glass, for which we can use a tonic or a soda. But over and above, in India, any cocktail is made either with 30 ml or 60 ml alcohol.

How important are mixologists in F&B?
Any drink is going to be a combination of many flavours. So to give complexity to a drink and make it more pronounced, you need to mix it with a suitable combination of ingredients. And thus the role of mixologist is very important in terms of understanding the flavour combinations that people really like. You cannot mix two flavours at the same time, unless you have the knowledge of it.

What are the struggles of a mixologist?
It’s the lack of trust on the part of consumers. Many a times, people might not like the combinations that I use in a cocktail that I specially created for them. So that’s a backdrop we have to suffer.

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