Windmills introduces cocktails made with mahua, a liquor from the tribes of central India
Craft distiller Desmond Nazareth was on the hunt for agave (the Mexican succulent used to make tequila) in India, when he discovered mahua by chance in a small village outside Daman. The spirit, created from mahua flowers, is made by tribes in central India, and is restricted to the area due to licens-ing and colonial laws. But Desmond has given the drink a makeover and is making the indigenous spirit available in other states. This week, Windmills in Bengaluru hosts a Mahua Festival with Desmondji Mahua and Desmondji Liqueurs.
According to Desmond, Mahua is the only spirit in the world made from a flower. “When I first had it, it was given to me in a plastic bottle and it was very cloudy. But I tasted it and I thought it’s a very interesting drink,” Desmond tells us. It was an arduous five-year process of getting permissions to make and bottle it. The drink is made from Madhuca longifolia aka the Mahua flower. The flower is fermented and distilled. Sometimes, cane sugar or jaggery is also added. “I can’t come up with an appropriate comparison, but it is sweet with floral and fruity notes,” Desmond explains about the flavour profile of the drink.
“The beauty mahua presents to bartenders is that it’s a blank slate. It is extremely versatile” he says. Kicking off today, the festival at Windmills will have a talk by Desmond on his journey, as he shares the eight new cocktails.
The drink Battle of Mahua, is their take on the Cosmopolitan. It is a recreation of the classic drink with the sweetness of mahua and tartness of grapefruit juice. Another recommendation is the Mahua with Tonic (M&T). Mahua is comparable to gin due to its earthy flavours and hence is used as a replacement in the G&T.
But since we are Bloody Mary lovers, our pick is the Bloody Maria. The sweetness of mahua balances out the fiery mix, without straying too far from a traditional recipe. The other cocktails are the Twisted Tom, Imperial Caipirinha, Mahua Sour, The New Pickleback and The Sundowner.
“Mahua has been relegated to a low grade status, and it has never emerged from that. We are trying to change that. The long game is for it to be recognised and sold as a heritage product,” Desmond sums up.
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