Nostalgia in your glass with Arq, Sidecar’s 4.0 signature cocktail menu
Priya Pathiyan delves into the deliciousness of the fresh drinks and charming memories at one of India’s most loved bars.
Sidecar, the popular artisanal cocktail bar in Delhi’s Greater Kailash II, topped our 30 Best Bars India 2022 list (check out what’s in store for 2023 here). Owners Yangdup Lama and Minakshi Singh like to call it a ‘bartenders’ bar’, and pride themselves on the quality of the flavour extractions that they create, using mostly their own bitters, syrups, grogs, and tinctures in their finely tuned craft cocktails.
And now, they’ve popped open a wealth of memories with their latest menu, the fourth edition. Called Arq, the essence, it showcases 10 signature cocktails, each one inspired by a quintessential Indian ingredient and releases an aroma and flavour that evoke a particular emotion.
As they say on the menu: ‘Arq is the essence of time. Of letting a scent transport us to a moment and pausing in it. More ethereal than all other senses, scent has the power to unlock emotions by tapping into our collective memories – the perfume of raat ki rani in summertime, the smell of incense lit in the evening, the fragrance of chai being boiled streetside, and the scent of first rain falling on muddy grounds. Arq attempts to bottle that familiar rush through cocktails that showcase the uniqueness of India.’
Apart from the cool sketches and each hero ingredient’s back story, I like that the creatively crafted menu tells you the cocktail’s ABV (alcohol by volume), sweetness level, and serving style upfront. It makes an exploration of this new clutch of cocktails even easier.
30BB checks them out
Barley is all about the roasted grain flavour mixed with Johnnie Walker Blonde, vetiver, and a wheat beer reduction. Served straight up and redolent of barley fields across the country.
So, you have the claypot-aged Beet, that fuses Short Story white rum with beetroot, parsley, balsamic vinegar, hung curd, and vetiver in a highball glass, all of which is reminiscent of the heady petrichor of the first rain.
The sweet Betel brings the best of Benares with vodka, betel leaf cordial, and citrus to balance. Served on the rocks, it’s like the most perfumed paan box on your palate.
If you thought Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory was magical, try Sidecar’s Cacao. The mixologists sous-vide organic Mysore cacao from Naviluna with Toki, the Japanese whiskey, add cherry brine, and soda water to create a highball worthy of the gods.
Cilantro lets you enter a typical Indian kitchen as you sip on a smooth blend of lassi fat washed Jose Cuervo tequila, tomato, coriander, chilli, mango cordial, saline, and coriander-cumin air, served as a lowball.
The juniper and liquorice in London dry Tanqueray gin are beautifully complemented by Sidecar’s zesty gondhoraj mix, brought to life with sparkling water in Gondhoraj.
Gin with a side of curry leaf? Yes, please. And to balance that nutty-umami taste, tangy kokum water and an earthy-sweet jaggery reduction. Kari seems simple, but it is a nuanced cocktail, refreshing in both, taste and concept.
What do you get when you mix the taste of French brandy and the fragrance of myrtle from Nanjangud, Karnataka? A heady and spice-laden cocktail that is as posh as it is a crowd pleaser, Myrtle features St Remy VSOP, Chempotty Estate myrtle leaf cordial, and lime served straight up.
Imagine the toasty oak flavours of Jim Beam White bourbon infused with smoked pinewood tea from Anandini Himalaya Tea. With the added goodness of ginger-honey, and lime, Tea Leaf, topped with froth, brings you the brightness of a high-altitude forest and the spunky attitude of a high-tannin tea.
The totally unique Titepati, priced higher than the rest (they cost Rs 895 each) at Rs 995, is a highlight of Arq. Intense, with a tinge of the bitter, it combines Bacardi Reserva rum, with Darjeeling mugwort-infused vermouth, and Campari. The healing and protective perennial herb that is the essence of this cocktail, is something that Lama says makes him nostalgic about his days in Darjeeling, where it is commonly used as an antiseptic as well as a protector of the local chhaang liquor.
In keeping with Sidecar’s philosophy of serving something for everyone, they also have four Low ABV cocktails, namely, the sweet, coffee-based Caramel Brew, a tart Tomato Highball, the beer and lime-based Lime Lime, and the vetiver-laced Woody Highball. The team also whips up some excellent soda-and-shrub zero-proof drinks for those who prefer that.
Sidecar | Address: M29, 1st Floor, M Block Market, Near HDFC Bank, Greater Kailash 2, New Delhi, Delhi NCR | Tel: +919999407923.