– Santosh Kukreti
Bartending, like all other forms of art has evolved over the years to a segment within the hospitality industry. The basic bar gear like the shaker, strainer, jigger, muddler etc all remain classic and timeless, however, innovation today is the key differentiator in raising the bar.
This is a skill that continuously challenges us and that’s what excites me most to the profession, as it requires me to keep adopting new techniques and tricks to stay ahead of the curve.
Some of my favourite modern bartending techniques and secrets from behind the bar are:
* Clear ice-making
This is a super scientific process. Ordinarily when you imagine ice, you are used to visualising a hazy, cloudy cube and of course nothing substantially aesthetic about it. My team and I have engineered a machine that freezes water into a crystal clear block, by way of not letting oxygen getting trapped during the process of freezing. We then hand carve the clear ice block into diamond and ball shaped masterpieces that never fail to leave our guests awestruck.
* Gravity Clarity
This is one of my favourites, where we use milk during the filtration process. This makes the end product crystal clear (even if dark rum or whisky is used) and adds three layers of flavour. The result – an exceptional mouth feel and an intoxicatingly flavoursome tipple.
Based on the ethos of sustainability, this technique involves freezing a blend of ingredients, letting it drip through cheesecloth and collecting the filtered clear liquid for your star cocktail. This increases the shelf-life of ingredients and ensures freshness in every sip. I love using this technique for ingredients like tomato, strawberry, basil and other such seasonal delicacies.
* Herb smoking
Instead of the classic smoke gun, I choose to hold a strainer with fresh herbs and torch that right above the shaker full of liquor and mixers. The burst of flavours and the aroma from this innovative approach is unquestionable.
Taking cue from the current global bartending trend, this technique involves the use of natural yeast from house-set curd to ferment fresh fruits or vegetables, which we use in our cocktails. At Thirsty City 127, I use this method for our Beet Tepache, which is our signature, we ferment the vibrant beetroot for a week before using it with Agave and Tequila, this one boasts of earthy and umami flavours, super different and is totally unforgettable.
With over 7 years of experience, Santosh Kukreti is a well-travelled millenial bar-smith. His past stints have been with renowned establishments like Ritz Carlton, Macau which is one of Asia’s Best 50, Ek Bar, World’s First Indian-inspired cocktail bar, Delhi, Hakkasan, Michelin-starred Asian cocktail bar and restaurant. He is currently heading the bar scene at Thirsty City 127, India’s first craft cocktail bar, which also happens to house Mumbai’s first microbrewery which is now run by Thirsty Beers. He is passionate about the art of cocktail-making, strives to be ingredient and technique-forward.
Santosh enjoys networking with like-minded folks from the industry – always inquisitive to learn and explore unique styles, trends and the evolution of the consumer.