Merry Warmers

City’s best bartenders on their favourite Christmas tipplers this season

By Madhulika Dash

Of course, Christmas is all about tradition; of course, you should have that glass of Eggnog, the good

old Grog and the mulled wine. But if you are in the mood to drink something different and still

traditional inspiring, we get you some of our favourites of the three odd dozen we loved – it’s

smooth, spicy and every bit Merry.



He could very well be the Jerry Thomas of the Indian Cocktail scene. He has been at the forefront of

creating some of the most interesting cocktails popular in the Indian scene, is followed by most of

the bartenders in the country – and a few chefs as well, and is perhaps one of the first bar experts to

have not one but two dedicated bar inspired, trend-making restaurants in the capital city: Cocktail 7

Speakeasy & Sidecar. Among the most sought-after consultant and mentor, he spooled out the trend

of using fresh mixes and making bitters, in house.

Cocktail for me is
“Drinking for me has always been an affair with the spirit. It is the only way you can enjoy the

nuances and notes of a spirit. And as bartender, my favourite cocktail isn’t only about the spirit and

the fresh ingredients used, but how it is used. The idea of a good cocktail should be one that

enhances the spirit and foreplays with its different notes. And that is the theme for this Christmas as


My favourites this season Strawberry Mulled Wine




Mulled wine is the beverage must-have of a cake. Think of it, both are rich, fragrant, delicious and

full of these fruity punches. In our Strawberry Mulled Wine, we have tried to create the fruity -

citrusy wedding of a good red wine, cinnamon, clove, orange zest with season’s juiciest strawberry

dunked in. And yes, port wine too is a good choice.

Hot Apple Cider



If you love Old Fashioned or looking for a smooth, sweet drink without the wedge of guilt, the Hot

Apple Cider is perfect. It is apple juice, spice mix and lime with a dash of rum or whiskey – your


Chocolate Torte



Someone had recently asked me if bartenders make hot chocolate how will it be, well this is a drink

that would describe it perfectly. Made with an in-house chocolate mix, dark rum, aged whiskey and

single cream – it’s a dessert in a glass.

Pumpkin Pie In A Glass



It is one of my fun experiment of trying to put at least one Christmas treat in a glass, and of course

an ode to the pumpkin pie I have had during my travel. This one plays with the texture of dark and

light rum balanced with nutmeg infused Bianca Vermouth, sweetened with fresh pumpkin puree and

finished with a dash of lime.




One of India’s finest next-gen bartender, award winning Aman Dua (popularly called Ammy Dua in

the industry) is among the few gifted drinksmith in the country to have managed to not only marry

the modern bar technique with the classic art of drink-making, but in that process revive our own

beverage culture as well. Perhaps the only to have a bar dedicated to the five elements of nature

and a previous one that paid ode to our century old tradition of beverages, Dua is known in the

industry for his unique take on fresh ingredients. A well-known bar designer, he remains one of the

best kitchen-to-bar trendsetters in the country.

Cocktail for me is

“Cocktail for me should never be about too many ingredients or too less of them. A good cocktail is

one, which you can nurse, indulge in and can have a new experience per sip. This principle is at the

very foundation of our traditional beverages – and that is exactly what I try to do with my cocktails

as well – with a dash of theatrics whenever needed. ”

My favourites this season Comet



Christmas for all of us has some connect. For me, it has been the stories, especially about the elfs

and the reindeer. So this Christmas, I have done a series on personifying our favourite, the Comet

however has been a favourite. One of the most lovable, easy going, charmer of the pack. And those

are the things that I have tried creating in this Hennessy-based drink, which has a spicy maple syrup

made in house and an apple fizz to finish just to give that hint of naughtiness.




As a bar hand, the one thing we all have been privy to is love stories – funny, sweet, innocent and

spiced up. And believe it or not, a good drink has got to do a lot with it. Cupid is my story of

witnessing love happen first hand. It is a heady drink of cream and coffee liqueur and the

quintessential roasted marshmallow on top.




Inspired from the movie Bedazzled, one of my favourite Christmas re-watch, this is my take on the

mulled wine and buttered rum. A dark rum-based cocktail, it has fresh apple juice, roasted all spice,

lime finished with vanilla foam and smoked cinnamon cigar – a drink version of being playful,

naughty and spicy.