Are you over 25 years of age?

Now, get wowed by perfumed mixology at KMC* Mumbai

July 26, 2023

Priya Pathiyan talks to mixologist Jishnu AJ to understand what his perfumed mixology is all about.

A whiff of creativity is in the air. Follow your nose up the grand wooden staircase of the blue-and-white colonial building of Kitab Mahal close to Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus and you’ll be inside the versatile space that is KMC*.

Is this cosily lit establishment a café, a bar, a co-working hub, or a place for dreamy creatives to muse on their muse? It’s a little bit of everything, just as owners Chef Niyati Rao and Sagar Neve (also the people behind the much-acclaimed Ekaa next door) intended it to be.

Jishnu AJ, Head Mixologist at Ekaa Mumbai and KMC*, who was the first person invited to join the team when Ekaa opened in 2021, says their vision of it being an experimental community space is reflected in the logo. It’s an asterisk with arrows symbolically converging at a single point.

KMC mixology
Jishnu AJ, Head, Mixology, Ekaa and KMC*, explains the concept of perfumed mixology. Image: Priya Pathiyan.


While they’ve had plenty of bar takeovers and private parties and a very popular Sunday brunch, they’re pushing the envelope yet again for their first anniversary this month, with a new bar menu titled Mehfil, which has a separate page dedicated to their rather unique concept — Perfumed Mixology.

KMC mixology
Ready to take a risk with the asterisk? Each edible perfume spray has a unique olfactory profile. Image: Priya Pathiyan.


Pick this Rs 875-plus-taxes-a-pop option and the wait staff will bring you a large wooden asterisk to your table. You will get to choose from a selection of fragrances, based on your preferences, just as you would in a perfumery. Spray them on a strip, take a deep sniff, and enter olfactory heaven. If you’re trying them all, there are coffee beans at the centre to help you clear up your nasal passages so you can appreciate the qualities of each aroma. And once you have chosen your perfume, you get to pick the spirit and style it is served in.

Jishnu describes this completely customisable experience: “We have 10 perfumes that you can choose from, which match with all the spirits — gin, tequila, whiskey, rum, vodka… The cocktail is usually 60 ml of the spirit, 30 ml of the fragrant cordial, with perhaps a dash of tonic and soda, depending on how strong or sweet you want it to be.”

KMC mixology
The Mehfil menu allows you to fill in the blanks with your tastes. Image: Priya Pathiyan.


You can also choose the style of the drink, he says. “For example, if you don’t want ice, we can just stir the drink and serve it in a coupe glass. If you want it with a lot of ice, we can do it in an old-fashioned glass. If you want a refreshing highball, that’s doable too. You don’t see this in a lot of bars. In fact, even we had first started with prebatch cocktails where certain aromas were paired with certain spirits, but I decided to change that. I wanted guests to enjoy the freedom to choose,” Jishnu smiles.

The welcomingly eclectic multiverse that is KMC*. Image: Courtesy KMC*.


The perfumes are made inhouse. Inspired by traditional Indian perfume making, they use a water-distilling technique called Hydrosol, which is used in Gujarat. The same ingredients are used in making a cordial, which is mixed with a spirit and served with a spritz of the aromatic spray, so you get the same fragrance from your drink. This intensifies the perfume and makes for a pleasingly heady experience that stays with you as you sip your cocktail.

KMC mixology
A special spritz in our glass? Yes, please. Image: Courtesy KMC*.


“Both, at Ekaa and KMC*, we follow a very ingredient-focussed approach. And these completely safe and edible perfumes too, are all about ingredients,” explains Jishnu, who has been using this method for five years. “The distilling process releases much better flavours than stirring or muddling,” he confides. They’re already selling 25 of these a day and double that on weekends.



Cosy interiors with windows overlooking the leafy bylanes at Fort. Image: Courtesy KMC*.


The plan is to change the potent perfume menu every month. As it is there’s an element of the here and now to this enterprise, as despite adding vodka for shelf life, each fragrance remains intense for only about 10 days, aromas being released over time. But they’ve started with definite crowd pleasers to gauge the reaction, before moving on to more complex concoctions.

The Cardamom Vetiver mixed with gin that we sample is as refreshing as a Spring day, the sweetness of the former dovetailing perfectly with the cooling, cleansing persistence of khus khus. Aniseed Lavender is soothing and intriguing all at once. Jatamansi Rose infuses dried rose petals from Gujarat and the Himalayan herb whose earthy and floral notes have a calming effect. The zingy Curry Leaf Cumin, on the other hand, is quite invigorating, and a popular choice because of the familiar flavours. There’s a Mixed Spice blend that’s akin to a non-alcoholic spicy-floral version of gin, mixing hints of cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, star anise, with rose, jasmine, and lavender. The sharp and sweet Rosemary Sandalwood is redolent of sublime pursuits.

KMC mixology
Our smooth and sensational Cardamom Vetiver with gin. Image: Priya Pathiyan.


There’s the love-it-or-hate-it Cinnamon Coriander and the more exotic Truffle Basil, which is built around truffle fat-washed Jose Cuervo tequila and brings to mind a delicious pesto. Jishnu’s personal favourite though is the simple Pure Mace, with its unusual dried floral notes. And the one that he had to really work hard to perfect is the Chocolate Orange, that incorporates 85 per cent chocolate from Coorg with the zestiness of orange, using a variety of techniques, from milk washing to sous-viding to deep freezing, before it arrives in your glass to delight all your senses.

While this may not be the first time in the country that you can sniff your cocktail and drink it too (there have been a few innovative pop ups that did it before), the India-inspired Perfumed Mixology by KMC* is definitely something we enjoyed and would like to see more of. The team’s expansion plans might just make this happen.

Get in Touch

    Don't miss updates from us!