Turmeric now spices up drinks

Turmeric now spices up drinks

Bengaluru mixologists are using a traditional Indian ingredient to add zing to their cocktails

Bala prefers fresh turmeric over store-bought, which could be adulterated.

An unconventional ingredient is adding a twist to a range of drinks served in Bengaluru.

For centuries, turmeric has been consumed in India to fight coughs and colds, and applied on the skin to keep it glowing. It is now being mixed with alcohol.

Turmeric, grown in Karnataka, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh caught the attention of cafe chain Starbucks in the London.

In 2018, Starbucks introduced ‘turmeric latte,’ which is nothing but your regular home remedy for colds: turmeric and milk.

The chain says it got positive customer feedback, but it was trolled for claiming the “exotic drink” was their invention.

Back home, some bartenders are taking the spice — known to give curry its vibrant colour — to a whole new level.

Mixologists have also started to use turmeric in cocktails.

Challenging spice

It is not so easy to handle the spice, though. Victor Salter, mixologist and general manager of ‘Three Dots and a Dash’, JP Nagar, explains, “The ingredient tends to overpower other flavours in the mix. If you don’t add the right amount, you won’t be able to sense the other ingredients.”

Since turmeric is acidic, it could go wrong in many ways. It’s important to ensure liquor, sugar and acid are of the right proportion, they say.

Gaurav Dhyani says cognac
is a terrible choice for a
turmeric drink but gin and
vodka works.

The aftertaste of turmeric can be offputting. That’s why Bala, mixologist at Brew and Barbeque on Outer Ring Road, prefers fresh turmeric over store-bought powder.

“There are chances of adulteration when you buy ready-to powder. I recommend cooking fresh turmeric for syrups and tinctures. You have to make sure you don’t overcook it as it develops a cloud on your drink otherwise,” he says.

What works best?

Turmeric finds its best match in gin. For an ingredient as pungent as turmeric, gin provides the perfect balance by bringing out the flavour without overpowering it, says Salter.

“For tiki cocktails, the trend is gin, vodka and rum, as they serve as efficient base alcohols for a variety of ingredients, as opposed to whiskey which doesn’t blend as well,” he explains.

Gaurav Dhyani, mixologist at RumBah, The Ritz-Carlton, Residency Road, says cognac is a terrible choice for a turmeric drink.

He recommends gin,golden sours and vodka smashes.

“The spicy nature of Scotch is just divine to make a drink. And since you will be making syrups of the golden ingredient, you can also make mocktails using passion fruit or popcorn syrup,” he says.

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