Behind the bar at New York City's Michelin-starred Junoon, mixologist Hemant Pathak works to complement the kitchen's ambitious progressive Indian cuisine with equally exuberant cocktails that incorporate many of the same herbs and spices. The Daily Meal paid Pathak a visit to find out more about Junoon's approach to spice and to learn how Pathak makes some of his signature cocktails.
Pathak won multiple awards for his mixology at the Taj Palace Hotel in New Delhi before joining the already-Michelin-starred Junoon in 2013, where he's garnered attention for his cocktail menu fixtures like the Mumbai Margarita as well as for a series of eight fanciful cocktails playfully based on characters from HBO's Game of Thrones. All of these draw flavors from the extensive collection of ingredients in the restaurant's climate-controlled masala room.
"Junoon gives me a platform where we do have our own spice room, our own masala room, where you can find - you name it, you will find that spice there," he told us. "I thought, why would I not stick with the heritage?"
While Pathak shares the same spice supply as the restaurant's kitchen, incorporating those flavors into a drink can require different techniques. Junoon's bar uses a variety of syrups, tinctures, and infusions for its cocktails, and Pathak shares the kitchen's open-minded approach to methods. "Every modern technique, whatever I can think of, whatever I can use to bring the spices into the alcohol and use it in my cocktail, that's how we do it," he told us.
In our video, Pathak demonstrates some advanced moves - rolling flaming tequila between two steel mugs probably falls into the "don't try this at home" category - but he also gives instructions for a flavorful made-from-scratch bloody mary mix and offers some hints on how you can incorporate your own favorite spices into creative cocktails.
He shared the recipes and techniques for three cocktails:
The Mirchi Mary, an Indian-spiced bloody mary.El Matador, featuring mezcal, jalapeÃ±o, curry leaf, and turmeric.Masala Margarita, a South Asian-influenced margarita.
Watch The Daily Meal's "Cocktails With an Indian Twist" video here.