The consumption of whisky in its traditional avatar has long been in vogue in the country, but whisky cocktails are also gaining popularity as more Indians are travelling overseas and experiencing international drinking trends.
The emergence of “craft cocktail bars specialising in whisky cocktails seem to suggest that the trend is here to stay,” said Vineet Agrawal, head of marketing - Indian subcontinent and Maldives, Brown-Forman Worldwide LLC, the company that manufactures the popular Jack Daniel’s whisky brand.
American whiskies are currently witnessing a “renaissance globally”, said Agrawal, who believes the consumption of whisky cocktails is “more of a lifestyle choice”.
“Well-travelled Indian millennial consumers are not very different from their counterparts across this digitally connected world. We also see a lot of women, who traditionally have shied away from whisky, now finding a suitable alternative as they discover American whisky through such cocktails,” said Agrawal.
Rohan Jelkie, brand ambassador, Moet Hennessy India, says while whisky has been the “oldest base spirit” for cocktails compared to others, whisky cocktails have certainly made a comeback. “Whisky-based cocktails like the Old Fashioned, Manhattan and the Whisky Sour are some of the most classic recipes that have been around since the 1850,” said Jelkie. “Unique cocktails made with whisky have definitely made a comeback and consumers have loved them. And they are definitely here to stay,” he added.
Jamie Walker, a brand ambassador of USL-Diageo Reserve, said perceptions about drinking whisky are also changing.
“In the past, whisky has been typecast as a spirit only to be enjoyed neat or maybe ice and water, but this is changing. I find when I do whisky dinners and cocktail sessions, gentlemen are now eager to taste the cocktails and (I’m) often surprised at how much they enjoy them,” said Walker.
As far as festivals promoting whisky cocktails are concerned, Jelkie said they play a very important role in spreading awareness of the spirit in the country. “Such cocktail fests are a great platform to drive category education for the end consumer,” he said.
As the temperatures in the capital continue to soar, whisky cocktail recipes are apt to beat the heat. While Agrawal recommended recipes like Jack Julep (a combination of Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7, simple syrup, crushed ice and mint sprig) and Lemon No. 7 (a combination of Old No. 7, triple sec, sour mix, lemon, cherry and lemon-lime soda), Jelkie recommended the Glenmorangie Mint Julep, a combination of Glenmorangie The Original, fresh mint, sugar and cracked ice.
Dean Callan, global brand ambassador of whisky brand Monkey Shoulder, recommends a classic mix of whisky, lemon, ice and ginger ale. However, Callan also had important advice about drinking whisky cocktails during summer. “When you are drinking cocktails in the heat, you need to keep drinking water as you will dehydrate. If you are at home, and you have a bottle of whisky, the first thing should be to try picking a cocktail that only uses the base spirit,” he said. Most importantly, there’s no specific way of appreciating the drink, Walker noted.
“If you find a drink or a combination that you like then that is good for you, stick with it! There is no correct way to drink whisky, and as such there is no definitive way to mix it in a cocktail,” he added.