Fine-dining Indian cuisine doesn’t get much better than Benares: Mayfair‘s Michelin-starred restaurant helmed by executive chef Sameer Taneja. On a mission to change the English perception of Indian food, Taneja and his team have elevated a cuisine once wrongfully deemed by Brits as casual and cheap into star-studded plates and some of the finest tasting menus in the capital. Hats off to them.
The same innovative approach taken in the kitchen – which results in Indian-inspired, Western-tinged dishes of king crab and egg masala, chicken tikka pie, samosa ragda tartlet and black truffle and white chocolate galouti kebab – has, rather unsurprisingly, been adopted by the bar too. Led by bar manager Hannan and sommelier Jeepson Lopes, Benares’ Lounge bar offers an extensive list of wines 400 bottles from across 17 different countries including rare vintages, as well as a range of unique, spice-infused cocktails perfect for that pre-dinner aperitif or after-dinner nightcap.
Pick from the Imperial – mixed with Desi Daru Vodka, lychee liqueur, orange bitters, Rooh Afzah and star anise shrub – or the Benares Lava featuring Smoke House Rock and Rye whisky, Frangelico, lime and Jaggery Tsunami Bitters. A signature on the menu is the Passion Fruit Chutney Martini, simply made from a few ingredients, which cocktail connoisseurs could easily recreate away from Benares’ glossy bar.
For the first instalment in our new series, Cocktail of the Week, launching just in time for the Indian festival of Diwali, we caught up with bar manager Hannan to discover how to make his Passion Fruit Chutney Martini at home – and why he loves it so much. “I wanted to create an innovative cocktail inspired by coastal Indian flavours,” Hannan explains. “For this martini, we use homemade passion fruit chutney with a hint of fiery Andhra chillis and zesty lemon. The sweet and subtly spiced notes of the chutney, combined with the refreshing citrus twist, create a harmonious balance that I love.” Make sure to check out the recipe below to create your very own passion fruit chutney to incorporate into the martini, too.
Passion Fruit Chutney Martini
Wyborowa vodka 50ml
Homemade passion fruit chutney* 25ml
Passion fruit juice 50ml
Lemon juice 25ml
Gomme syrup 15ml
- Shake all the ingredients together thoroughly in a cocktail shaker.
- Double strain into a coupe glass.
- Top with the back of a passion fruit and garnish with edible pearls.
For the passion fruit chutney*
Passion fruit purée 1L
Granulated sugar 500g
Chilli flakes 3-4tsp
- In a saucepan, first, add the passion fruit purée and heat.
- Add the sugar and bring to the boil.
- Take one cup of water and mix 3-4tsp of cornflour to create a paste. Add this to the passion purée mix in the saucepan.
- Finally, add 3-4tsp of chilli flakes and boil for five minutes until the chutney thickens.
- Remove it from the heat and let it cool to room temperature.
- Transfer the chutney to a clean, airtight container and store it in the refrigerator.
Make it at home
Read more: The best festive afternoon teas in London