'The world needs better cocktails'

'The world needs better cocktails'

You can create new sensory experiences out of classics like the Moscow Mule, a Barbara or Haughtiness by experimenting with different liqueurs, spirits, syrups and modifying agents, says Dimitri. It’s a constant process of innovation to make better and better cocktails, he says, but make sure that your basics and techniques are right.

The cocktail king, who was in Bangalore recently to demonstrate a slew of vodka martini cocktails served in the classic V-shaped glass, favours vodka as the number one cocktail spirit for more reasons than one. “It is the spirit which helped me find my ground,” and “is an easy spirit to consume and enjoy”. The “V” in vodka also spells versatility in the art and craft of building cocktails, unlike spirits such as whisky, rum and tequila that don’t allow for as much flexibility. “Vodka has been active in the rebirth of the cocktail,” he avers.

How would he define the perfect cocktail? Creating the perfect drink is a process of trial and error, but “it’s one that’s created for the moment or occasion”, depending also on the people for whom it’s being created. “I would encourage everyone to find their definition of the perfect moment!” he quips.

That said, the golden rule to whipping up an unforgettable cocktail, however, is to never compromise on the quality of ingredients. “Always use the best and freshest of ingredients as well as good quality ice,” he stresses. It may sound tedious, but Dimitri suggests it’s worth your while to use freshly squeezed fruit juices against ready-to-pour TetraPak or bottled options for that truly great-tasting cocktail.

Presentation is important because the drink must first appeal to the visual senses and create anticipation before the aroma can hit the nose, finally building up to the taste. So it would be wise to invest in proper glassware along with basic bar accessories.

Should a drink be shaken or stirred? While opinions vary on this question, as a rule it is the thick and heavy fruit-based cocktails that are always shaken, then strained, whereas it is the lighter ones that are stirred. What special drink would he conjure up for a hot Indian summer? It would be something with Grey Goose L’Orange, muddled alphonso mango, a few drops of lemon juice and some sugar syrup, all shaken up with ice, strained into a highball glass and topped with ginger beer.

 Has he had his share of difficult customers? “Oh yes…you get them all the time. The trouble with these people is that they themselves don’t know what they want!”
Among Dimitri’s memorable experiences were creating cocktails for red-carpet events like the Oscar parties and the Cannes and Berlin film extravaganzas.

“Cocktail Kings was also great fun,” he says  but he finds it more satisfying to help bartenders around the world improve and sharpen their skills. “The world needs better cocktails and I love to take the art to a whole new level,” says Dimitri. What does he see himself doing five years from now? His spirited response: “I will own the best bar in India!” For cocktail-lovers that may be one more reason to raise their glasses and say “Cheers”!

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