Cocktail culture isn’t kind on people who are not fond of sweet flavours. We’ve tried, often in vain, to find a concoction that won’t compromise our blood sugar levels and outrage our sucrose-weary taste buds. Thus far, Bloody Mary has been the drink of compromise.
So we rushed to Atrium Lounge at Taj Lands End in Bandra when we heard about their new cocktails made from food ingredients. Even better, two out of the eight cocktails are, wait for this, non-vegetarian. Bacon and chicken stock go into the Concassed Tomato Water with Char Grilled Bacon (with Smirnoff Black), and the Red Label Consommé, respectively. Two of the cocktails are inspired by desserts.
Carrot Carpaccio flavoured with Rosemary
The bar has used ingredients such as balsamic vinegar, raw mango and carrots, and mixed them up in commonly agreed culinary combinations, such as cucumber and wasabi.
The good stuff
We tried the Carrot Carpaccio Flavoured with Rosemary first. Made using Tanqueray gin and a dash of Cointreau, it arrived in a Martini glass, with four sticks of carrot immersed in the liquid. The drink was served with two pieces of bruschetta. The Carpaccio was dry, with an initial gingeriness which gave way to the rosemary. “There is no sweetening agent. If you bite into the carrot after taking a sip, it gives a sweet tinge,” says Rishi Kumar, restaurant manager. We wouldn’t have missed the carrots if they weren’t there; the cocktail itself was pretty good.
Then came the one we were holding our breath for. Die-hard bacon lovers think anything from ice cream to mayonnaise is improved with the addition of the smoky pork product, and we wouldn’t argue too much with that. Especially not after tasting the Concassed Tomato Water with Char Grilled Bacon (with four mini paneer samosas). When they say tomato water, they mean it—the liquid is the result of blanched, pulverized and double-strained tomatoes, so only a watery juice remains. Before being infused in vodka for two weeks, the bacon, sprinkled with brown sugar, has been grilled at 200 degrees Celsius for 12 minutes. “To get rid of any raw smell,” explains Pankaj Kumar, assistant restaurant manager. The cocktail is briny, with the smokiness of bacon and the freshness of tomato. We thought the garnish of a fried basil leaf didn’t do what it was meant to (release a mild aroma).
Next up was the Consommé, which equalled a brandy snifter filled with a Red Label and chicken stock cocktail, flavoured with lemon leaf and spring onion. It was like drinking a warm spiked soup—which was great, but not what we want from a cocktail. Salmon canapes accompanied it.
Concassed Tomato Water with Char Grilled Bacon
As good as they all were individually, we found ourselves reaching for the rosemary-flavoured carrot cocktail the most. It was refreshing, with just the right amount of everything. The dessert cocktail we tried, the Tiramisu, was literally the Italian dessert in a glass, mascarpone cheese and all. It tasted of strong rich coffee with a very controlled sweetness that didn’t linger, and we were grateful for that.
Confession time: Both the cocktails with the non-veg ingredients had a mild smell. Nothing unpleasant, but it can get in the way if you’re not a very adventurous non-vegetarian.
These cocktails are priced at Rs650 plus 20% tax (a regular Bloody Mary costs Rs500 plus tax). Each one comes with a small snack. We would flirt with the bacon cocktail once for the novelty, but we wouldn’t mind a lasting relationship with the carpaccio. Call (022) 66681234.