The last time I had cocktails with my friend Karmjit, we were at the Four Sisters in Islington (drinking these) and both feeling slightly the worse for wear from separate overindulgences the night before. We ended up, somewhat shamefaced (#sorrynotsorry) at the local McDonalds, and resolved to make up for this unfortunate food/drink pairing with something more respectable. Fortunately, Karmjit is an utterly stellar cook, with her own (enviably expert) blog on Indian cooking, Chilli & Chai. I first tasted her cooking in a dingy shared kitchen at university – I remember gobbling it down as if I hadn’t eaten for weeks (it is possible I was existing on ramen and toast at the time), and she’s only got more amazing over the last decade.
For her latest dinner party, Karmjit roped me in to make the cocktails. I decided I’d make one with gin, one with whiskey, and went on a hunt around the internet for inspiration. First stop, the Dishoom cocktail menu, which hooked me straight off with its “Edwina’s Affair” – gin, rose, cardamom, and mint. A seven year old post from Design Sponge brought me this cardamom rose cocktail, which is what I’ve replicated below. Bonus points for managing to coordinate with another recipe of Karmjit’s – cardamom and rose water cookies!
For whiskey, something infused with tea (Dishoom has an entire section devoted to this concept) was appealing, but I’ve had trouble getting the flavours of tea to register in cocktails before. This Chai Whiskey Sour from F&B Department solved the problem by giving me the idea for a chai syrup, which would ramp up the flavour to withstand the rye I wanted to use.
Both of these drinks involved making a syrup, which is always fun, although I am now left with a lot of chai syrup and a lot of rose syrup and no idea what to do with them. Any ideas, please do comment!
Design Sponge’s Cardamom Rose cocktail:
1.5 oz of gin (ideally Hendricks, since it is rosy and cucumbery, but there had been a run on Hendricks in North London when I needed to make this (!) so Beefeater had to stand in)
.75 oz of rose syrup
.25 oz of fresh lemon juice
.75 oz of fresh grapefruit juice (ruby red gives it the pink colouring)
2 dashes of Peychaud’s bitters
Splash of soda water
1 cardamom pod
Muddle the cardamom pod at the bottom of your cocktail shaker.Add ice to the shaker, then the rest of the ingredients. Shake shake shake. Strain into a glass with more ice, top off with a splash of soda water, and garnish with lemon and/or rose petals. Candied rose petals would be idea, but I am NOT good with fiddly things like that.
F&B Department’s Chai Whiskey Sour:
1 oz lemon juice
.75 oz Chai Syrup (recipe in original post)
1 egg white
Add all ingredients to a shaker without ice and shake for 10 seconds or so, then add ice and shake again. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a cinnamon stick and star anise.
Both of these are gorgeous drinks – the rose cardamom fizz is so light and delicate, while the chai whiskey sour is rich and intense, but either one makes a perfect pre-curry aperitif.
Last but not least, of course, the food, which I was sadly unable to spend an hour photographing in my own house in daylight because I was starving and needed to EAT IT. I did restrain myself long enough to take a quick photo before I waded in, so hopefully this gives you the idea.
Pictured is Karmjit’s Indian spiced chicken (bottom left) and a prawn curry (top right) which has yet to be posted, plus rice and daal. DELICIOUS, I wish she’d cook for me all the time, I’d happily make the drinks!