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Passion in the mix

For Avrajit Nandy, the bar captain of Unwine, The Sonnet, a 4-star hotel in Calcutta, mixing drinks is all about creativity and passion. “Nothing interests me more than experimenting with cool concoctions,” says the 28-year-old Nandy. One of his signature creations — Spicy Guava, that’s a mix of vodka, guava juice and Indian spices — always wins him rave reviews from guests.

It all started for Nandy when he completed a degree in hotel management, specialising in food and beverages, from the Numero Uno Institute of Professional Studies, Calcutta, in 2008.

After a six-month intensive training programme at ITC’s Fortune Landmark, Indore, he played assistant bartender in his first two jobs — at Henry’s The Pub, Hotel Park Prime, Jaipur and at The Park (now renamed Burgundy), Hotel Royal Orchid Suites, Bangalore. He was even awarded the title of ‘Best Bartender’ at Royal Orchid Suites.

In 2010, Nandy returned to Calcutta and joined Unwine and today his job profile includes designing menus, organising events at the bar and of course manning it too.

Classic cocktails sell briskly in Calcutta, Nandy says. “So, it’s challenging, but fun, to introduce guests to novel drinks and recipes,” he says.

He shares the recipes of three of his favourite cocktails.

Love & Lust

Glass: Collins

Ingredients:

60ml dark rum • 10ml banana syrup • 60ml pineapple juice • 60ml cranberry juice 15ml lime cordial • a pineapple chunk and lemon rind (to garnish)

Method:

Put all the ingredients — except the rum — in a Boston shaker, add ice cubes and shake well. Strain the concoction into a glass and top up with rum. Garnish with a pineapple chunk and lemon rind .

Red Pepper Daisy

Glass: Old-fashioned

Ingredients:

60ml gold tequila • 10ml sugar syrup • 10ml lemon juice • 30ml soda • spices (rock salt, chaat masala, red chilli powder) • a few coriander leaves • some salt (to rim the glass) • a lemon slice and rind (to garnish)

Method:

Start off by rimming the glass with salt. Put all ingredients in a Boston shaker. Add ice cubes, shake well, strain and pour into the glass. Top up with some soda. Garnish with a lemon slice and rind.

Two-in-One

Glass: Margarita

Ingredients:

60ml vodka • 1 tbs pineapple crush • 1 tbs strawberry crush • 15ml lime juice • 10ml sugar syrup • some sugar (to rim the glass) • a cherry (to garnish)

Method:

Rim a Margarita glass with sugar. Blend 30ml vodka with pineapple crush and half of lime juice, sugar syrup and crushed ice in a glass and also blend the remaining 30ml vodka with the strawberry crush, the other half of lime juice, sugar syrup and crushed ice in a separate glass. Pour both the blends into the Margarita glass, garnish with a cherry and serve.