Indian Spices Are Finding Their Way Into Cocktails

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Indian Spices

Indian Spices Are Finding Their Way Into Cocktails

Indian Spices like saffron, cinnamon, star anise, mace and cardamom and more are currently considered to be storeroom staples for cooks, however bartenders have discovered additional uses of these fragrant seasonings in deliciously complex cocktails.

My journey behind the bar with these aromatic Indian spices began when I joined a super successful Indian Michelin star restaurant called Junoon from New York. They opened their second restaurant in Dubai in December 2014 and it is owned by a graceful enthusiast who goes by name of Mr. Rajesh Bhardwaj. I intuitively realised that Junoon Dubai is undoubtedly going to be a totally new and exciting experience for me and more than anything, a daunting challenge. The basic notion was to give the cocktails innovatively much needed Indian twist. 

Being an Indian you are expected to be well acquainted with these so called spices, but when I actually started poking around it was indeed very challenging for me to understand what all these spices had to offer. Chefs obviously understood these spices better than me, but for a bartender it was a huge task to come up with a few drinks with a blend of these Indian spices, which could be paired up appropriately with our food dishes. But as John Cena says, “Never back down!” :))

Soon me and my colleagues Dejan and Manja began experimenting by making few homemade syrups like Mace Syrup, saffron syrup, cinnamon, star anise, cloves syrup and maple garam masala syrup to add to our cocktails. For those who don’t have an idea about what garam masala is (it’s a spice mix made with clove, cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, coriander and black pepper crushed together in a powder). Lots of spices ehh? Well, yes, but it’s been a part of Indian cuisine forever, and a question popped in my head, why not use it in cocktails? So I bring to you all some quick recipes which we offer here at Junoon Dubai.

Whiskey Buisiness  

 Desi Twist in a “Whiskey Sour”

Whiskey Business


  • Bourbon whiskey 50ml
  • Peach Syrup 15ml
  • Lemon Juice 15ml
  • Egg-white 15 ml
  • 2 pieces of Star Anise
  • Angostura Bitter

Whiskey Business2

Drop a piece of star anise into cocktail shaker and muddle, add all other ingredients except for bitter and give it a dry shake as you have an egg-white in your drink, fill up the shaker with ice and give it a hard shake, double strain into the chilled coupe glass, add few drops of angostura bitter on the top and a garnish with a nice Star Anise.

BBC (Brandy, Benedictine & Cinnamon)


BBC (Brandy, Benedictine & Cinnamon)


  • Brandy 50ml
  • Benedictine 5ml
  • Cinnamon syrup 15 ml
  • Lemon Juice 15 ml
  • Egg-white 15 ml
  • Peychaud’s Bitter
  • Long Cinnamon stick for garnish


Recipe for Cinnamon syrup:

In a small cooking pan, add four large sticks of cinnamon, a couple of cloves and star anise, 1 cup of caster sugar, and half a cup of water and heat it up on the stove for 5 minutes. Allow it to cool down and then double strain. Store it into the bottle (can be used for 30 days if refrigerate without any issues)

Add all the ingredients except for bitter into cocktail shaker and give it a nice dry shake as you have an egg-white inside, add ice and shake it again and double strain into a rocks glass filled with ice cubes. Add a few drops of bitters on top and garnish with a nice long cinnamon stick (light up the cinnamon stick top with a lighter right before serving to release cinnamon aroma)

                    Masaledar (Spiced)



  • Vodka 40ml
  • Cardamom and Assam tea (type of Indian black tea) infused vodka 10ml
  • Lillet Blanc 15ml
  • Garam masala maple syrup 10ml
  • Star Anise for garnish


Recipe for garam masala maple syrup:

Add 1 cup of Maple syrup, half a cup of water and two teaspoons of Indian garam masala in a small cooking pan and heat it up on the stove for 5 minutes. Let it cool and then using a superbag strainer, strain it  and store it in the bottle (can use it up to 30 days without any issues)

Add all the ingredients into cocktail shaker and shake it, double strain into chilled coupe glass and garnish with a Star Anise

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Rejuvenate yourself with this super refreshing Gin Cocktail.

We all know that Gin goes amazingly well with cucumber and basil, and when you decide to use Hendrick’s Gin for this combination, it simply does it work on its own :))

A very first sip of this cocktail and trust me you don’t want to stop drinking it. All you will say is “I’m Rejuvenated” :)





  • Hendrick’s Gin 50ml
  • Lime juice 15ml
  • Simple Syrup 15ml
  • Cucumber chunks
  • Basil leaves
  • Soda water


Muddle 3-4 chunks of cucumber and 4-5 basil leaves in the cocktail shaker, add Hendrick’s, lime juice and simple syrup, fill up the shaker with ice, give it a hard shake, double strain into the highball glass filled with crushed ice and few chunks of cucumber, add a splash of soda. Garnish with a basil leaves. You are all set to rejuvenate yourself. Cheers folks

Rejuvinate pik

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