Bar manager Jozef Letasi avails himself of Origin India’s exotic pantry to populate his 27-cocktail list (OriginIndiaRestaurant.com) with unique drinks that complement executive chef Kuldeep Singh’s modern Indian cuisine. Fennel, ginger, green cardamom, lavender, cinnamon and pani puri—all make cameos in Letasi’s original, seasonal menu. Two in particular stand out. “I wanted to create a cocktail for an Indian wedding,” says Letasi, a native Slovakian. “Something clean, fresh and slightly spicy—like love.” The resulting cocktail is refreshing, citrusy and spicy with a long finish.
Spicy Mohabat (Romance)
- 1 cinnamon stick, whole
- 4-5 cubes ginger, ½ inch by ½ inch
- 6 grapes (Letasi recommends Muscat)
- 1 ounce Soho lychee liqueur
- 1½ ounces Absolut vodka
- 1 ounce Sence Rare European Rose Nectar
- ½ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Fresh rose petals and cinnamon powder for garnish
In a mixing glass (or with a mortar and pestle), break the cinnamon in half and crush into small pieces. Add the cubes of fresh ginger and muddle again. Add the grapes and muddle again till the ingredients form a thick paste. Add the remaining ingredients and shake very well with ice. Double-strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a dusting of cinnamon powder and a single rose petal.
Making a sweet companion to spicy dishes, Letasi’s Swagraat (Honeymoon) achieves a silky texture without cream thanks to the natural oils in the walnuts and finds its inspiration in the traditional flavors of Christmas in Slovakia: apples, walnuts and brandy or cognac. With the addition of some warm Indian spices, Letasi found the perfect union.
- 1 handful whole, shelled walnuts
- 1 ounce house-made fennel/anise syrup
- 2 ounces Hennessy V.S. cognac
- ¾ ounce fresh apple juice
- ¼ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Whole star anise and ground cinnamon for garnish
Muddle walnuts in a mixing glass, then add the fennel/anise syrup to create a paste. Add all other ingredients with ice and shake very well. Double-strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish.