The Spirited Traveler: Mumbai cocktails

Tue May 10, 2011 6:05am EDT
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By Kara Newman

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - India's commerce and cuisine have both been immeasurably enriched by its rich trove of fragrant spices. So naturally, in Mumbai, the commercial, entertainment and nightlife capital of India, those spices even find their way into cocktails.

"Cocktail culture is nascent in India," says Mumbai-based food writer Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal, who also leads bar-crawling expeditions.

Straight-up spirits and beer are usually the preferred tipples. However, she reports that it's become trendy to fuse Indian and Southeast Asian flavors into cocktails, incorporating bold herbs and spices such as roasted cumin, kaffir lime leaves, or bird's-eye chilli peppers.

While neutral vodka is usually the spirit of choice to infuse, look for "wilder experimentation" with other spirits, particularly in smaller independent bars, she advises.

A prime example: the Maharasthra Martini at Wink (here%20President%20Hotel,MUMBAI/WINK/default.htm) inside the Taj President Hotel in (here%20President%20Hotel,MUMBAI/WINK/default.htm) inside the Taj President Hotel in

South Bombay, made with curry leaf-infused whisky and coffee liqueur.

"It's a must-try for someone visiting the city looking for a local flavor," Ghildiyal says.

(I've heard rumblings that India has become increasingly interested in whisky over the past couple of years, and this bar, which offers 40+ whiskeys, may be a particularly fine starting point for whisky enthusiasts.)   Continued...