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Chef Siddharth Somaiya and mixologist Mariki Sayles speak about the Panacea pop-up at House of Tales

On March 25 and 26, Hauslandish Hospitality (the parent company of The Bao Haus Co) together with mixologist Mariki Sayles, will bring to Kala Ghoda a weekend pop-up that celebrates inventive food and cocktail pairings.

Chef Somaiya, who has swung the spotlight on to the bounty of baos, glorious baos, with his internationally-inspired pan Asian street food menu at The Bao Haus Co, will be plucking specials off his regular menu at The Bao Haus Co and serving them slightly differently for Panacea.

“Some of the dishes on the menu at Panacea will include our signature Buttermilk Fried Chicken Bao, a dessert bao, a new version of our Pork Belly Bao of crisp pork belly with a watermelon salad, served with a scallion, chilli and feta emulsion. We will also have a Fish ’n’ Chips course serving the crispiest fish and chips with our personal take on tartar sauce. Our Hickory Smoked Chicken Wings and Pork Belly Burger will also be served and we’re also doing a vegetarian and non-vegetarian version of banh mi bruschettas.”

So far so good. But what makes Panacea stand out is the fact that it shuns the immutability of wine in favour of cocktail and food pairings. “Mariki is a very dear friend of mine,” continues Chef, “and a very talented mixologist. Our initial discussions about doing a different and unique pop up event eventually materialised into the concept of Panacea... This pop up is taking one step closer to setting up a bar which only serves cocktails and not the regular beer, rum and coke or other spirits. The whole idea is to create a cocktail bar set up with ambient music which enables conversation and is the ideal place for a first or second date.”

Mariki Sayles is a mixologist at Chef Eric Ripert's restaurant, Le Bernardin. It has a most formidable reputation: the highest score in the 2016 Zagat Guide to New York City (29 out of a possible 30), three Michelin stars and a consistent four star rating from The New York Times since the restaurant opened in the city. Chef Ripert is a sort of fish whisperer, elevating the cooking of seafood to an exquisite art form and naturally, the bar upholds the same level of elegance.

The menu at Le Bernardin has a whole library of classic cocktails but consistently pushes the boundaries by creating seasonal, unconventional libations that coax the best flavours from its dishes. “All the bartenders are on their toes creating exciting and seasonal cocktails but Le Bernardin is a classic institution of New York where you need to get the classic right,” says Sales.

“When I’m pairing a dish with a drink, I think about the main protein in the dish and then I think about the kind of wine that would go best with it-mineral, fruity, tart, sugary. For example: I’d pair a light oyster dish with a sake cocktail with a touch of champagne. Similarly, I’d pair a charbroiled steak with scotch. Playing off the flavours of the food is what I do, I always pair my cocktails in a way that it complements the flavours of the dish.”

At Panacea, Sayles hopes to replicate this with cocktails that emphasise local, seasonal ingredients, a sort of cocktail terroir if you will. “I’m using locally-made alcohol like Amrut whisky. At Panacea we want to highlight everything that is local, Indian-made whisky, local ingredients... ‘Eat Local, Stay Local and Consume Local’ is our motto. One can expect chilli-based cocktails, the use of tamarind, kafir and every ingredient that is locally available in the market," she explains.

“I love Tiki drinks and this is also something that we will be featuring at Panacea. We’ll be using malted banana juice, coconut milk, mango, pineapple and papaya. I love anything tropical and fruit is absolutely beautiful because it tastes so good, the more garnish the better. My personal favourite is a Mai Tai with lots of rum, lime and a hefty amount of bitters."

Another favourite of Sayles, chartreuse, is also going to find its way into Panacea’s cocktail menu. “Chartreuse is my absolute favourite,” she says. “It is a really cool ingredient created by the Monks in France. The recipe is divided between three different monks and hence no one knows the exact way in which it is prepared or the whole recipe. It is most often known as the elixir of life and is an exhilarating concoction of tarragon, oregano, cilantro and herbs. We will be featuring this on our menu at Panacea as well.” We can hardly wait!

March 25 and 26; 8 pm to 10 pm & 10. 30 pm to 12:30 am; Rs 3,000 for a set menu of six cocktails and six veg/non-veg items. House of Tales, VB Gandhi Marg, Kala Ghoda. Contact 02222043446

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Printable version | Jul 21, 2017 5:19:39 PM | http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/entertainment/in-high-spirits/article8388630.ece