Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

World Whisky Day: Light up the weekend with smoky blends and Indian spices

This World Whisky Day, stir up a cocktail or two with these recipes from some of India's leading bartenders and mixologists

Published: May 15, 2021 10:00:00 AM IST
Updated: May 14, 2021 03:40:40 PM IST

World Whisky Day: Light up the weekend with smoky blends and Indian spices

In India, one of the largest whisky-consuming nations in the world, not just Indian whisky but whisky cocktails too are having a moment. As more and more millennials are willing to experiment with their drinks, bartenders and mixologists are creating whisky cocktails with Indian spices, coffee, tea and chocolate. “We see people experimenting with fruity flavours and even sugar-free, organic alternatives in cocktails are in demand,” says Tony Fernandes, mixologist, JW Marriott Mumbai Juhu.

The demand for smoky whiskies such as Lagavulin, Laphroaig and Ardmore for cocktails has also gone up. “A smoky whisky tends to blend better with various types of mixers and herbs which add to the fragrance and aftertaste of the cocktail,” says Raghav Wanchoo, beverage manager, ITC, Gardenia, Bengaluru.

Besides, in the lockdown, as more and more people are trying out new whisky cocktail recipes at home, they are also choosing/making the right ice to chill their whisky, says bartender Yangdup Lama, co-owner of Sidecar bar in Delhi, ranked 16 on Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2021 list. “Most ice tends to melt fast, and you definitely don’t want your expensive drink to be watered down,” says Lama. “Crystal clear, hard ice also adds to the way your whisky looks when poured in a glass,” he adds.

On World Whisky Day, here are some whisky cocktail recipes that can be made at home, from some of the top bars in the country–Harbour Bar, The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Mumbai; Reflections, JW Marriott Mumbai Juhu; The Piano Bar and Cigar Lounge, The Oberoi, Gurgaon; Highland Nectar, ITC Gardenia Bengaluru, and Sidecar, Delhi.

Recipes by Ishan Nagpal, bar and lounge manager, The Oberoi, Gurgaon

Yuzu Highball

Yuzu juice - 10 ml
Yuzu peel - 1 to 2
Fresh grapefruit juice - 30 ml
Tonic water - to top up, 250 ml
Japanese whisky - 60 ml

In a mixing glass, muddle yuzu peels. Add the whisky and ice, stir.
Strain into an ice filled tall glass.
Add the lemon juice and stir properly.
Top up with grapefruit juice and tonic water.
Twist a yuzu peel on the drink and garnish.

Cafe Velvet

World Whisky Day: Light up the weekend with smoky blends and Indian spices
Cafe Velvet. Courtesy - The Oberoi, Gurugram

Scotch whisky (Highland single malt if possible) - 60 ml
Home-made coffee bitters - 2 to 3 dashes
Sweetened espresso - 10 ml
Tonic water - 250 ml
Saline - 2 ml

In a cocktail shaker, add whisky, 3 dashes of bitters, 2 drops of saline and sweetened espresso.
Shake well for 20 seconds.
Strain into a tall glass filled with ice cubes.
Slowly top up with tonic water while maintaining the crema.


Whisky - 60 ml
Rosemary sprig
Spring Blossom Honey - 10 ml
Home-made basil syrup - 10 ml
Wild lime juice - 15 ml
Valencia orange peels

Place an upside-down tumbler on a lit rosemary sprig to capture the smoke and add a smoky flavour to the drink.
In a separate mixing glass, gently muddle rosemary and orange peel.
Add the whisky, honey, syrup and lime juice.
Fill the glass with ice.
Stir till the honey is properly dissolved.
Strain into your smoked tumbler.
Garnish with the still smoking sprig and orange peel.

Recipes by Raghav Wanchoo, beverage manager, ITC Gardenia, Bengaluru

Harvest Moon

Whisky - 45ml
Dry rosemary - 3 to 4 leaves
Sugar syrup and lime juice - 15ml
Angostura bitters - 2 to 3 dashes

Slightly burn the dry rosemary and put an inverted whisky glass on top of it to add a smoky flavour to the drink.
Fill a mixing glass with ice.
Add whisky, sugar syrup and lime juice and 2-3 dashes of Angostura bitters.
Stir for 2-3 minutes. Add ice to the whisky glass, which would now have an aroma of the burnt rosemary.
Strain the beverage from the mixing glass into the whisky glass.
Garnish with rosemary and lemon wedges.

World Whisky Day: Light up the weekend with smoky blends and Indian spices
Harvest Moon and Balcones Brimstone. Courtesy - ITC Gardenia, Bengaluru

Balcones Brimstone

Whisky - 45ml
Cardamom cloves - 5-6
Star anise - 2-3
Orange peel
Sugar syrup and lime juice - 15 ml

Slightly burn the cardamom and star anise.
Use a mixing glass to muddle the herbs.
Add ice and then all the ingredients one by one i.e. whisky, sugar syrup and lime juice, and the orange peel.
Stir for 2-3 minutes.
Fill a martini glass with lots of ice.
Empty the martini glass once chilled and strain the beverage from the mixing glass into the martini glass.
Cut the orange peel into a twirl and use it as a garnish.

Recipes by Tony Fernandes, mixologist, JW Marriott, Juhu, Mumbai

Reflection Sour

Balvenie 12 YO - 50 ml
Exotic bitters - 3 dashes
Organic honey syrup - 20 ml
Bitter fruit juice (Freshly squeezed orange, grapefruit, dried orange zest) - 20 ml

Mix the ingredients and shake thoroughly using a cocktail shaker. Dry shake (without ice) first and then wet shake (with ice).
Pour in a crystal whisky glass, garnish with a handful of Maraschino cherries and a pinch of cinnamon.

Yuan Yang Whisky Tea

World Whisky Day: Light up the weekend with smoky blends and Indian spices
Yuan Yang Whisky Tea. Courtesy - JW Marriott, Juhu, Mumbai

The Glenlivet 12 YO - 50 ml
A mix of Assam tea - 60 ml and everyday coffee mix concoction (2 ounces milk tea and ½ ounce brewed coffee).
Condensed milk - 10 ml

Mix all ingredients using the ‘Throwing’ preparation technique (straining the cocktail from one tin into another via long pours).
Serve hot or cold in a cup.

Jaggery Julep

Glenmorangie infused with vanilla pod - 30 ml
Martini Rosso infused with cinnamon, green cardamom, clove, black pepper, star anise and steeped for 60 hours - 20 ml
Organic coconut jaggery extract - 10 ml

Mix all ingredients using the ‘Build’ method—topping the ingredients over each other in a glass.
Garnish with a mint sprig and tiny chunks of jaggery.

Recipes by Jezan Limzerwala, assistant director food and beverage, The Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai

Whisky Plush

Paul John Single Malt - 60ml
Pineapple Juice - 30ml
Elderberry tea infused with maple syrup - 30ml
Mascarpone cheese - 1 bar spoon
Basil leaves - 2-3
Pineapple spear - 1 piece
Cornflakes – As required

Rim the glass with cornflakes along with a pineapple spear and basil leaves.
Stir the mascarpone cheese with whisky and pineapple juice.
Serve in an Old-Fashioned Glass.

Berty’s Rob Roy

World Whisky Day: Light up the weekend with smoky blends and Indian spices
Berty's Rob Roy. Courtesy - The Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai

Chivas Regal 18 infused with raw mango - 45ml
Martini Bianco infused with cardamom - 15ml
Homemade spiced bitters - 2-3 drops

Mix the ingredients.
Garnish with raw mango and serve in a cocktail glass.

Recipes by Bartender Yangdup Lama, co-owner, Sidecar


Bourbon whisky - 60ml
Aromatic Bitters - 3 drops
Sugar cube - 1
Orange oil – 2-3 drops

In an Old Fashioned Glass drop the sugar cube and aromatic bitters and muddle to dissolve the two.
Pour a good measure of Bourbon whisky and fill the glass with ice/an ice block.
Stir to mix well.
Add a few drops of orange oil to the drink and garnish with an orange peel.


Bourbon/Rye whisky - 50ml
Sweet/Red vermouth - 10ml
Aromatic bitters - 3 drops

In a mixing glass, measure out all of the above ingredients.
Fill the glass with ice and stir for a while.
Strain into a tall stem glass (Nick & Nora/Martini).
Garnish with a glazed cherry/fresh cherry.

Whisky Hi- Ball

World Whisky Day: Light up the weekend with smoky blends and Indian spices
Whisky Hi Ball. Courtesy - Sidecar, New Delhi

Light Blended Scotch - 45ml
Aerated water (soda/flavoured soda/ginger ale) - to top
Citrus slice – for garnish

In a tall hi-ball measure the whisky and fill the glass with ice.
Top with your choice of aerated water.
Garnish with a citrus slice and serve.

How to make good ice at home

Boil water and allow it to cool.
Take a good size square Tupperware/ cake mould and fill with water until just an inch below the rim.
Allow to freeze.
As the ice freezes from one side all the impurities and the air in the ice will get pushed to the side that freezes towards the end.
Take the block ice and cut out the side that is cloudy.
One can use the clear side as blocks or cubes for drinks.