Creating a cocktail can be as satisfying & creative as creating a dish + A spicy winter cocktail
This cocktail recipe is perfect for all the winter parties
Creating this warm drink with a beautiful spice blend made at home proved to be quite the creative affair and made us excited to create something together. Next time you are thinking of how to make a signature drink for a party, give this a try.
Winter. Mild cold, chilling cold, biting cold, pleasantly cool. I love winter. I love all that winter brings. I love the feeling of winter. The cold and the mist. The fog. The cozy nights under a blanket on our living room couch watching movies. I remember spending one night and the following weekend last November when my husband & I curled up on the couch with a good glass of wine and then hot chocolate watching binge watching the entire season of Strangers Things 2.
I like getting up in the morning on winter mornings and feeling blessed to hold that hot cup of coffee. I like curling up with a book under the blankets. Winter also means pretty parties , people in trendy winter clothes, Delhi is by far the winner here. Or sitting in the balcony in a mild winter enjoying a good stiff drink with someone you love. But I also love the winter in super cold places, like in the Himalayas while camping under -1 C and really feeling the cold in the tent but what I always say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. The feeling of being on a beach in December and be glad for the perfect weather that lets you wear a short dress and welcoming the new year with the love of your life while staring at the full moon in the sky.
Winter and a great drink go hand in hand. And warm alcoholic drinks for winter are always a great idea. Sometimes it’s just a necessity , like the old monk toddies that I used to make in Delhi because it was so cold, sometimes V & I would just down a drink before stepping out to give us some warmth so that we could face the biting cold of Delhi.Other times you create a good cocktail to to celebrate new friendships. Like the time when we were dating and he introduced us to some new people he had met, along with his room mates , I really didn’t know anyone well so I felt that we needed a good drink to get over the awkwardness. I wanted to make good margaritas and bloody mary’s. V got all excited and we made a trip to Le Marche coming back with huge bottles of a really great bloody mary mix (I wish I could remember the brand) & we stood in his Delhi kitchen mixing up cocktails and drinking, after a point in time I don’t know what I was mixing, so Vivek took over and started making big batches of the cocktails for us to sip while I talked to everyone I met. The cocktails were yummy and tangy and such a great gateway to great conversations. The taste of a tomato, mint, cilantro , lime refuses to leave my memory.
I love a good drink and Vivek and I have love to invent new drinks. I really believe that drinks should be delicious. I think of drink as food. I guess it comes from my dad making really yummy cocktails. He loves coming up with new flavours. His drinks contain black salt, lime, cilantro , dried mango powder, chaat masala and even green chilli and to be honest a little bit of everything available in the kitchen cabinet. Back when we were kids, every Sunday he would make a delicious cocktail just before lunch, usually with gin or vodka. As kids my brother and I got virgin ones but once I remember as I turned 16 I would get lightly prepared ones, usually less that 5 ml of alcohol. But all I knew was that they tasted really delectable. I now understand that creating those drinks which made us sit together as a family just before lunch was a great way to connect and to bond.
A good drink can make your day. And a well created signature cocktail can elevate your home party to another level. The process of creating a good cocktail can be meditative. It usually starts with me thinking of some flavour or taste combinations that would make a really tasty drink. Then I start researching and keep testing and tasting. Of course I can’t drink all of it myself, Vivek soon joins in and he has a really good palate when it comes to understanding flavours in alcoholic drinks. He suggests changes and can often identify what is missing, better than I ever can. And that’s how we create beautiful cocktails. He is responsible for amazing signature cocktails for all the Lébu Suppers that we have hosted so far.
We created this drink called the ‘Winter Wrap’’ Single malt whiskey cocktail for the Lébu Supper: Middle eastern table (a series of signature suppers created to celebrate local produce in new formats). We needed a drink which could encompass the culture, the food of Middle eastern cuisine especially as we dishes from different countries, and of course feel like a nice warm blanket I winter. I started by creating the spice mix, and it is something that lives in my kitchen cupboard all the time now and I use it for lots of my cooking. It’s a heady mixture, the smell of it lives in your memory and of course the aroma it lends to the drink. For a few nights after I created the spice mix I kept experimenting with different ingredients and by changing the amount of whiskey. But not being a whiskey drinker , I somehow knew there was something missing. Vivek being a whiskey drinker and a single malt whiskey lover guessed what can take this drink in to something memorable and actually added the freshly squeezed orange juice to add this beautiful citrusy note which just brings the whole drink together . What followed is a beautiful recipe , created with love. Its spicy, aromatic, its light and warm at the same time and makes for a great spicy hot alcoholic drink.
For the Spice Mix:
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cardamon
2 teaspoons ground mace
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground anise seeds
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
(Since, I have made this, I use it for cooking many dishes and this lasts forever in your pantry)
For making one drink:
30 ml freshly squeezed orange juice
30 ml sugar syrup (you can make it at home by boiling equal part sugar and water)
1- 2 tsp of the ‘spice-mix’
30 ml good whiskey (we used Black & White Scotch whiskey)
Add all of the above ingredients, mix well, strain and serve in crystal whiskey glasses
Please note that the spice mix used here is made with really good , well-sourced ingredients. The cardamom is from Dubai brought in by a relative. Some of the other spices like cinnamon , the nutmeg is from Kerala , bought from a shop on a spice farm. I would urge everyone who make this and other things to source good ingredients always! There is no substitute for a good ingredient and makes all the difference to your cooking.
The spices should be fragrant and add to the aroma of the cocktail, they should really compliment the whiskey. And if you serve it at a party , your guests will appreciate the thought put in to it. We used Black & White Single malt whisky, its good whiskey , it’s not wildly expensive. We recently made these for a couple of friends visiting and we ran out of bottles of whiskey really fast. The next time you are wondering about easy alcoholic drinks to make at home, give this a try.Please note that the proportions can be easily changed to suit individual taste, I like my whiskey drink to be light while Vivek prefers it to be heavy. I like more spice while others may not. A bit of mixing and matching could be a fun exercise to do the next time you have friends over.
Lébu Tip: Do a ‘Design your own Drink’ party the next time you are looking for a theme to make your house party creative.