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Cocktail call

Think whisky and many phrases come to mind — on the rocks, with a little water, topped with soda, least of which is cocktails. But self-proclaimed whisky (unadulterated) connoisseur, expert mixologist and Chivas Regal global ambassador Max Warner had a different story to tell at The Junction at Taj Bengal on Thursday. In town as part of an all-India cocktail training tour, Max impressed the spirit lovers present at the do with his sheer artistry with all things liquid.

Though many consider adding anything to good whisky a sacrilege, Max rustled up one whisky cocktail after the other — pineapple and cinnamon, roasted coffee and vanilla, apple and cardamom, strawberry and orange. “Those who consider it a sacrilege like the taste of whisky in its purity anyway, so they don’t need it mixed with something. But there are many who do not like whisky, what about them? I want them to know cocktails do not have to be made with white spirits only,” said Warner.

Pointing out the pluses of whisky as a cocktail base, he added, “White spirits don’t have any flavour of their own. So cocktails made out of the latter will have a richer taste, it is more interesting to play with. For people who drink cocktails it is more about representing a lifestyle — it’s funky. So, the trick is not to mask the taste of the product, but to add to the quality through a master blend.”

While blended whisky is best for making cocktails, some mixers you need handy are juices, spices like cinnamon and vanilla, nuts like almonds and hazelnuts, sweet mixers like honey and butterscotch, and fruits like apples and pears.

Ask him the secret to the art of mixology and he smiles, “I have to say, improvisation in mixology is the confidence element, it is the key. With six basic ingredients I can create up to 80 cocktails. It’s like jamming, it’s like I have a guitar in my hand and I am not thinking about what I am playing.”

And what about India’s taste… has he figured that one out? “It may take me the rest of my life to find out India’s taste but I am willing to take up the challenge,” says the man, who is headed for Hyderabad and Mumbai next. “For now, I just want people to taste whisky cocktails and say ‘wow, this works well too’.”

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