Shakes it up and how!
Mixology involves more nuances than we imagine. That’s what you learn watching award-winning mixologist Gegam Kazarian at work.
Modena balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, raisins, hazelnuts from Piedmont. What would you do with these ingredients? Dress a salad with them perhaps? But what celebrity bartender Gegam Kazarian does is to add 45 ml of Molinari Extra and 15 ml of Molinari Caffe and turn them into a spectacular cocktail he calls Balsamoli. It’s many-layered and delightful to sip on.
Gegam was in the country to conduct a series of mixology classes, showcasing the Molinari liqueurs from Italy. This Sambuca first created in 1945 and served in the most stylish bars in Rome, has come to be part of La Dolce Vita. Sambuca is frequently what the wild party set shoots at the end of a long night of drinking. “We don’t meant to be snobbish about shooters, but Molinari is also a splendid base for great cocktails,” said Mario Molinari, who was also in town and whose grandfather, Angelo, created the brand all those decades ago.
I sat in on one of Gegam’s sessions and watched in awe as he turned the anise-flavoured liqueur into beautifully balanced cocktails. Originally from Armenia, Gegam now lives in Spain and travels the world teaching mixology. In 2011, he competed with nearly 400 bartenders from 29 countries and was named world’s best bartender at the G’Vine Summer Ball. Watching him at work I could see exactly what makes him a winner.
He chooses his ingredients with care, conscious of using only fresh, local produce. When a recipe called for lemons, he said, “In Bangalore, use the lime, yes? That’s zero food kilometers.” And like the best bartenders, he eschews artificial ingredients and syrups. Which is what makes his cocktails a class apart.
Gegam moves with the grace of a dancer behind the bar, shaking drinks and finishing cocktails with a delicate spritz of lime. The face of Molinari, he’s also created music to go with each of the Molinari cocktails. They are each unique and elegant – from the Molinari Basilicum (Molinari Extra, lemon juice, sparkling water, apples, basil and fresh ginger juice) to the Moliespresso (Molinari Caffe, espresso, vanilla pod, chocolate covered walnuts).
Here is Gegam Kazarian’s recipe for Cucumis Collins which I tasted and loved:
- 60 ml Molinari Extra
- 30 ml Lime juice
- 90 ml Sparkling water
- 60 g fresh cucumber
- Cherry tomatoes
- Lemon Peel
Glass: High Tumbler
Crush the cucumber. Add Molinari Extra, lemon juice and shake with ice in the shaker. Double strain and pour into the glass with ice and top up with sparkling water. Decorate with fine slices of cucumber, lemon peel and cherry tomato.