In the hallowed halls of Raahi Neo Kitchen and Bar, Bengaluru, a clandestine rendezvous awaits the intrepid drink enthusiast — a world where the essence of ancient Ayurveda intertwines with the art of mixology. Here, amidst whispers of elixirs and the aroma of herbs, a symphony of flavours is unveiled. Avinash Kapoli, the beverage head at Raahi, and Jishnu AJ, head mixologist at Ekaa, in Mumbai, have brought to life a collection of Ayurvedic cocktails that transcend time.
Jishnu’s passion for authentic Indian representation in the cocktail industry spurred his exploration of the fusion between mixology, traditional Indian herbs and Ayurveda. “We are witnessing a shift in the cocktail landscape,” Jishnu states, “and it is vital to embrace Ayurvedic and traditional Indian herbs to showcase the diverse flavors that India embodies.”
The meticulous selection of traditional Indian herbs is a thoughtful and thorough process for Jishnu. “This involved dedicating five months of in-depth study and engaging in discussions with experts in the field, as well as local Ayurvedic vendors who are knowledgeable about the proper usage of these herbs,” he says.
As Avinash aptly puts it, “These cocktails are like whispers from the past, where Ayurveda’s botanical secrets mingle with the modern techniques of mixology, resulting in drinks that are both innovative and flavourful.” Indeed, within the meticulously crafted elixirs lie the essences of vetiver, jatamansi, shankhpushpi and Himalayan fir, each carefully selected for its unique characteristics and ability to transport the imbiber to a realm of taste beyond compare.
Picture this: a highball glass brimming with botanical wonders. Gin, the liquid backbone, dances with vetiver — a fragrant botanical known for its aromatic prowess. Himalayan Fir takes centre stage in a martini, evoking the serenity of pine forests with its floral, woody and spicy notes. Shankpushpi and Kapur kachri grace other concoctions, adding depth and a touch of Indian heritage to the overall drinking experience.
Avinash says, “Ayurvedic cocktails are a testament to the evolving landscape of mixology, where unique flavour profiles and exceptional drinking experiences reign supreme.” It is not just the fusion of Ayurvedic botanicals with spirits like gin that captivates; it is the meticulous attention to detail and the orchestration of techniques that elevate these libations to new heights.
While Jishnu is aware of the medicinal values associated with Ayurvedic herbs, he is not looking to promote those aspects in his cocktails. “Given that the cocktails ultimately contain alcohol, the focus lies more on highlighting the unique flavours, aromas and cultural significance of these ingredients,” he says.
The boundaries of mixology continue to expand, and emerging trends bear testament to this vibrant evolution. Indian spices, once reserved for curries, now gracefully waltz with gin. Peppercorn and cinnamon, among others, lend complex notes, transforming gin-based cocktails into veritable spice bazaars. With each sip, new flavours unfold, a testament to the audacity of innovation.
In the dimly lit ambience of Raahi Neo Kitchen and Bar, the meeting of ancient wisdom and modern craftsmanship births a new era of libations. It is a rendezvous with the past, a celebration of botanical treasures that have stood the test of time. So, if you seek an adventure for your taste buds, where tradition and innovation mingle, indulge in an Ayurvedic cocktail.
And remember, when it comes to Ayurvedic cocktails, the only spirits that will haunt you are the ones you drink. Cheers!