Ziro-ing in on a Signature cocktail masterclass
Priya Pathiyan attended mixologist Nischal Gurung’s unique masterclass curated by Signature at the Ziro Festival of Music to bring you a taste of Arunachal Pradesh.
The 10th edition of the Ziro Festival of Music in Arunachal Pradesh between September 28 and Oct 1, 2023, was four days of sheer fabulousness. Three stages, 47 acts from India and abroad, and 10,000 revellers from across the world!
The music itself was enough to put you on a high — I especially loved Puuluup, an Estonian duo that wowed the crowd using an ancient folk harp, Ladakhi fusion band Dashugs, French band Eliasse’s percussion-lead Zangoma rock, Chennai-based Jatayu doing Carnatic fusion, and home boy Taba Chake’s soulful sound.
The music was exhilarating, but if anyone needed some liquid love, title sponsor Signature had pulled out all the stops to ensure ZFMers had everything we needed. Their team created a bar and social area using the same indigenous (and ingenious!) bamboo architecture as each of the three music stages and the food court did.
This stylish bar was one of the busiest counters across all four days and yet the bartenders were more than able to keep up with the high demand. Yangdup Lama, one of the country’s top mixologists, had curated some select cocktails for Signature.
Varun Koorichh, VP – Marketing & Portfolio Head, Diageo India, said of the company’s association with the Ziro Festival of Music, “This year as the melodies of the Ziro festival filled the atmosphere, Signature’s meticulously crafted nature-inspired cocktails took centrestage. Attendees expressed an overwhelmingly positive response to the local flavours and appreciation for the authentic #TasteofNature experience. The ‘East India Julep’ curated by mixologist Yangdup Lama was one among the most loved concoctions at the festival.”
And for those who wanted to go beyond drinking the delicious drinks, there was an opportunity to learn the ropes from mixologist Nischal Gurung, whose insightful masterclass was filled with useful tips and a chance to be guided by his expertise. Gurung referenced local dishes and even incorporated the rice-based liquor made by the Apatani tribes of Ziro in his cocktails. Koorichh says, “The mixology workshop witnessed enthusiastic participation and fervent engagement. The festival goers revelled in the opportunity to delve into the intricacies of mixology.”
While the Ziro music festival may have come to an end, the spirit of celebration still lingers on. Whether you’re reminiscing with friends or looking to prolong the festival atmosphere, their assortment of delightful cocktails is guaranteed to whisk you back to those incredible moments. Here are some recipes that will help you find some inspiration…
Star anise has travelled across the global kitchen, with its origin to China. Its successful cultivation stays restricted to China, Vietnam and partly Arunachal Pradesh. There other names for the spice — chakra or chakri phool, anasphal. This pretty-looking condiment is known for its sweet flavour and for its healing properties. The Signature Star makes a well-balanced drink with the flavours of Signature Premier and the gentle spice notes and sweetness of the star anise.
You need: 60 ml Signature Premier, 20 ml locally produced star anise cordial, ice.
You must: Stir over ice and serve straight or on the rocks, garnished with star anise.
Signature Fire & Ice
Bhut jolokia a.k.a Ghost chilli is a hybrid chilli pepper cultivated in the Northeast part of India. In 2007, Guinness World Records certified it as the world’s hottest chilli pepper. The chilli is a part of every meal in every household of the Northeast. For this Signature Fire & Ice cocktail, Signature Premier is infused with bhut jolokia/local chilli for a few hours to get the right spice and punch in the drink. A splash of chilled ginger ale and soda help to cool you down.
You need: 60 ml Signature Premier (infused with the Bhut jolokia chilli), 60 ml chilled ginger ale, 60 ml chilled soda, ice.
You must: Build it up over ice in a highball glass.
Apong Koat Pitha
Koat pitha is a famous sweet dish in Arunachal Pradesh made out of banana and jaggery, which can be perfectly blended with Signature Premier and the local rice beverage Apong.
You need: 45 ml Signature Premier, 90 ml Apong, half a banana, 20 ml jaggery syrup, ice.
You must: Blend and serve in a tall glass.
East India Julep
Known for its esoteric ability to push people into a paroxysm of happy memories. From livening up an insipid, watery daal to complementing a flavourful helping of fish or meat, or even the world-famous phuchka, Gondhoraj lebu (an aromatic lime), eastern India’s best kept culinary secret, has constantly been pushing Bengali cuisine to newer heights. Here’s to the East India Julep… citrus, tall, happy, and high!
You need: 45 ml Signature Premier, three chunks of Gondhoraj lime or three kaffir lime leaves, 10 ml mint cordial, 10 ml fresh lime juice, 90 ml soda, ice.
You must: Muddled and build over ice in a tall highball glass. Garnish with kaffir lime leaf.
Since ages, spices and herbs have been a quintessential part of our life. Right from adding soul to our bland meals to being rich in medicinal and healing properties, spices have been a prized possession for many ancient civilizations over centuries. Interestingly, spices have revolutionized our modern world. And one such spice that has voyaged through civilizations to our tables is cumin. GT Sour in a depiction of that strong cumin element with the fine full bodied Signature Premier redefines the most versatile classic cocktail of the century.
You need: 60 ml Signature Premier, 15 ml roasted cumin cordial, three drops aromatic Bitters, 15 ml fresh lime juice, three drops vegan foamer or one egg white, ice.
You must: Shake with ice and serve straight or on the rocks.
The bay leaf grows wild in the Himalayan belt and this herb, in its dried form, is used to flavour most of the culinary delights across the length and breadth of India and the sub-continent. Complementing the fine aromas is the salty sweet syrup made with Himalayan pink salt and palm candy sugar, making this a wholesome cocktail that has a depth of flavours and long-lasting finish.
You need: 60 ml Signature Premier, Himalayan pink salt, 10 ml palm candy, 30 ml bay leaf water, 10 ml lime juice.
You must: Shake with ice and serve straight.