Singapore's Origin Bar In Mumbai, Experts Talk Cocktail Trends
Image Credit: Play Well Cocktail/Origin Bar

Step into the fascinating world of Indian mixology, where the art of cocktail crafting has reached dazzling new heights. A whirlwind of changing trends has swept across the country, infusing traditional Indian flavours with modern creativity. Mixologists have embarked on a wild journey, exploring the vast realm of indigenous ingredients while also introducing some jaw-dropping techniques from the rest of the world. 

But it doesn't stop at taste alone. In this era of mixology, presentation is an art form. Cocktails have transformed into mesmerising spectacles, with mixologists transforming ordinary glasses into canvases to paint their innovation. Indian mixology has gone from an Old Monk and Coke world to becoming a kaleidoscope of taste and sight, where every cocktail is a masterpiece waiting to be discovered. 

This metamorphosis is set to be embodied at PCO Mumbai (noted on the ‘30BestBarsIndia’ list) which is hosting Singapore’s Origin Bar for the first time on the 12th of July. Straight from Orchard Road, Origin Bar – which placed at #66 in the prestigious “Asia’s 50 Best Bars” list – is known for its minimal and curated 18-cocktail menu and for just one day, they’ll be bringing some of that magic to Lower Parel with an exclusive 5-cocktail menu from Head Bartender Rishi Randhawa. 

Rishi Randhawa - Bar Manager, Origin Bar

The line-up includes five cocktails that reflect unique moments in time. From the explosive Atomic which is a blend of Metaxa, Yuzu, Wasabi, Citrus, and Explosions. Another standout is set to be the Play-Well which is an intriguing combination of Metaxa, Gin, Caramelized Apple Cordial, Bitters, and Lego. Other highlights include the delightful Peanut Butter Therapy, refreshing Hunter, and the tantalising Chicle cocktail, each offering an extraordinary sensory experience.

If you drop by PCO on the 12th or head over to Allia in Goa on the 13th, you can experience this one-of-a-kind takeover. Brace yourself for a cocktail revolution that celebrates the bold, the vibrant, and the extraordinary. In the realm of Indian mixology, the glass brims with innovation, taking you on a sensory adventure like never before.

Slurrp caught up with Rishi Randhawa of Origin Bar Singapore, and Shelton Fernandes, Bar Manager of PCO Mumbai to find out more about what to expect from this event and for the future of Indian mixology.

What differences do you see between the mixology space in India and Singapore and if you had the chance, what changes would you make?

Rishi: Market Sophistication and Trends: Singapore has established itself as a global hub for food and beverage, including mixology (bartending). The market is relatively mature, with a wide range of upscale bars, speakeasies, and cocktail lounges that cater to a discerning clientele. In India, while the mixology scene has been growing rapidly, it may still be evolving in certain cities and regions. The market trends and customer preferences might vary between the two countries, with Singapore being more exposed to international trends. However, I see a lot of untapped potential in India’s industry especially because the country is very rich and diverse in culinary traditions and ingredients. One change I would make is - to establish a strong supply chain management to ensure India procures international spirits for local bartenders to play around with and introduce in their beverage offerings.

Are there any techniques or ingredients on the rise that you’ve been working with that have made it onto this menu?

Rishi: Mainly distillations: Managed to redistill botanical herbs and spices to make homemade absinthe to showcase on the menu. Look out for the Peanut Butter Therapy! (St Remy, Peanut Butter Washed, Homemade absinthe distillate, Peychaud's bitters)

Do you think Indian cocktail drinkers are more partial to local flavours or ‘exotic’ ones? Have you seen that change over the years?

Rishi: Changing Preferences: Over the years, there has been a noticeable shift in the preferences of Indian cocktail drinkers. While traditional and local flavours still hold a special place, there is an increasing openness to experimenting with new and unique (exotic) flavour combinations. As the mixology scene in India evolves and becomes more diverse, there has been a growing interest in creative cocktails that blend local and international elements, resulting in fusion and innovative offerings. I believe cocktail preferences are highly subjective and can be influenced by personal taste, exposure to different flavours, cultural factors, and individual experiences. The bartending scene in India continues to evolve, and new trends and preferences may emerge as consumers' palates expand and the industry grows.

Shelton: I personally believe people in India don’t differentiate between locale or exotic flavours rather they believe in having the full experience by trusting the bartender and how they narrate about the cocktail along with what has been used to make the drink – but obviously, they should keep and respect the ingredients that have been used to make the cocktail.

Shelton Fernandes - Bar Manager, PCO

How do technology and innovation advance mixology, and how do you try to incorporate them into your cocktails?

Rishi: Precision and Consistency: Technology allows bartenders to achieve precise measurements, temperatures, and timings, resulting in consistent and reproducible cocktails. Tools such as digital scales, temperature-controlled equipment, and automated dispensers ensure accuracy and minimise variations in drink preparation. Techniques like spherification, foams, gels, and liquid nitrogen are employed to transform cocktails into visually stunning and innovative experiences. This is then applied to menu concepts and offerings.

Shelton: In PCO Mumbai, we utilise various technologies, but mainly we use a sous-vide which helps with maintaining the flavour profiles intact in the liquid other we also utilise a water distiller which helps with getting water-based liquid that helps us with getting the aromas and flavours of the distilled ingredients.

Where do you see the future of Indian mixology heading and how do you feel it being shaped by international trends?

Rishi: Technological Innovations: Technology can play a significant role in shaping the future of bartending (mixology). This includes the use of innovative equipment, such as rotavap, sous vide machine or automated cocktail machines. Additionally, advancements in online platforms and social media can enable bartenders to share recipes, techniques, and engage with a wider audience, facilitating the growth and exposure of the Indian bartending community. With the ever-evolving markets of international trends, this can involve using eco-friendly practices, reducing waste, sourcing ethically produced ingredients, and incorporating sustainable techniques. Consumers are increasingly drawn to establishments that prioritise environmental consciousness, and mixologists in India are likely to respond to this demand.

Shelton: I think India is slowly climbing up the ranks as a beverage and bar superpower along with the fact that over the past year, we’ve had multiple international takeovers and continue to, it’s fair to say that the global bar community has come through for us at all levels and that has promoted a culture of cross growth with our industry getting the benefit in the majority of the cases and not to mention that a lot of Indian bars and mixologists have been travelling abroad to promote the Indian bar scene and culture to newer shores!