A vacuum in the Indian market when it came to well-made natural mixers for cocktails and the lamentable lack of options apart from the sugary and artificial variety is what got things going. It sparked off a pioneering spirit in Aneesh Bhasin, Sahil Jatana and Rahul Mehra to launch a home-grown beverage company. “We started selling Svami in February 2018 with just a team of five people,” says Bhasin. Svami now makes its own all-natural mixers, ginger ales and tonic water (with low-calorie options to boot—a first in Asia, at that). Bhasin, who has developed a nuanced appreciation of wines and cigars, on his tastes and preferences and how it all started for him.
The stirrings of interest: “I used to be a photographer and a lot of my assignments involved travelling, which included visits to vineyards. That’s how my interest in wines started. With cigars, I was around a friend who was smoking a cigar and the aromas really got me intrigued and I realised how complex they were, just like wines, in fact. How, and where they are grown and how they are aged all makes a difference.”
A landmark moment: “As a start-up, there are so many moments which keep happening, sometimes the lowest lows and the highest highs. For me, the launch of our new ready-to-drink products are a significant moment in our journey.”
Unique moves: “We make our own recipes and bottle the products ourselves. We’re the only ones in the country to do so. We haven’t gone to a contract manufacturer and asked them to make us a tonic or a ginger ale.”
Mixing mantra: “I like classic cocktails, but where I would like to experiment is with techniques. For example, making a clarified whisky sour.”
Must-try Indian ingredients in cocktails: “Fresh fennel and Gondhoraj lime.”
Favourite spirits: “There are too many! But my current favourites are sherry cask finished whiskies and mezcal.”
Must-have cocktails for festive occasions: “I have to say, the new Svami non-alcoholic gin and tonics and the non-alcoholic rum and cola.
These two cocktail recipes recommended by Bhasin will ensure you get into the spirit of the season.
Low Cal Cinnamon Gin & Tonic
1. 45ml gin
2. Svami 3Cal Tonic
3. Cinnamon stick
Saffron Old Fashioned
1. 45ml whisky
2. 1 sugar cube
1. Add a sugar cube to a mixing glass and then add a dash of bitters to it.
2. Add ice, pour the whisky and stir for 20 seconds. Strain and serve in a cocktail coupe or a whisky glass.
3. Garnish with an orange peel (please, no orange slices!)
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