New Delhi October 04,
2009, 0:49 IST
Raising the bar
Text : Archana Jahagirdar
Nicholas Hawkins at the Blue Bar, Taj Palace, Delhi, makes cocktails that are unique and trendy.
Many believe that Delhi is no longer the butter chicken capital of the world. Its residents are now confirmed foodies, eager to give other cuisines a try. And now, it may soon be said that Delhi is no longer the scotch-consuming capital of the world — if Nicholas Hawkins has anything to say about it. Hawkins, who prefers to be called Nick, is at the helm of the just-opened Blue Bar at the Taj Palace Hotel in New Delhi.
Cocktails are Hawkins’ metier, and the menu at the Blue Bar casts its net far and wide to bring new and forgotten drinks to its discerning clients. Says Hawkins, “The trick is to talk to your clients all the time. Even though we have a large number of cocktails on the menu, we are willing to make a cocktail the way the customer wants it.”
If his the-customer-is-always-right practice is a step in the right direction, so is the effort to ensure that premium alcohol and the freshest, most exotic ingredients are used. Hawkins, sounding like a master chef, says that it is the ingredients which make a cocktail what it is. Says Hawkins, “In every drink you make, you can take the easy route — and then there is the harder and more fulfilling route of making it with the very best and taking time and effort.”
Hawkins, who makes and shares some of his recipes with us is, however, shy of spilling all his trade secrets. When we taste (all in the line of duty) his bourbon infused with cigar, he outlines the experience, “When you take the first sip, you feel that it’s regular bourbon, but 15 seconds later the taste of cigar kicks in, and then another 15 seconds later it intensifies.” With first-hand experience, I can say that it’s all true. But Hawkins will not tell us how he infused cigar in the bourbon.
Hawkins’s effort to create new cocktails is his “way of expressing his creativity.” True to his word, each of the four drinks (plus the bourbon) that he serves are all superlative and unique.
Cocktails, which fell into some disrepute in the 1970s and 1980s, are once again considered fashionable. And Hawkins is using his considerable knowledge to offer not just a very extensive menu but also one that will change four times a year, corresponding to the four seasons that the city experiences.
Place the plum Compote and Sake into a Boston glass. Stir until the Compote dissolves. Add the rest of the ingredients and shake with cubed ice. Then double strain into a frozen martini glass. Finally, drop the half Japanese plum into the glass and serve.
Place the fig and date puree, red chilli and caramel syrup into a Boston glass. Muddle until all the ingredients are mixed together. Add the remaining ingredients and shake with cubed ice. Double strain into a frozen martini glass and garnish with the quarter of a fig.
Slap the basil leaves to release the oils and place in a Boston glass. Add the rest of the ingredients and shake with cubed ice. Double strain into a frozen martini glass and garnish with a slapped basil leaf.