Thandai, But Tipsy: 3 Tips For Heady Sips

Thandai, But Tipsy: 3 Tips For Heady Sips

Celebrating the festival of colours, as we revel in the joys of spraying each other with water, throwing balloons and splashing different hues, what acts as a refreshing quencher between bursts of colourful fun is the thandai, a cooling drink containing milk, sugar and lots of spices. Thandai is a delicious and indulgent beverage made with the addition of rose petals, crushed almonds, poppy seeds, fennel, black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon and saffron. The drink is as seductive as it is decadent so much so that the subtle orange pink hues exuding from the thandai because of the presence of saffron and rose petals makes it thoroughly hard to resist.

Oftentimes, mixology enthusiasts experiment with different ingredients to put their creative spins on the thandai and one such recipe includes pouring spirits into the mix to elevate the profile of an already flavour packed drink. The intense notes of a quality rum or vodka add a boozy quality and slight bitterness to the recipe whereas the milk allows for a creamy consistency leading to the introduction of several layers into the classic drink. However, mixing thandai with spirits is an art requiring much skill because you need to get the proportions right and ensure that no two flavours overpower each other.

Complementary Spirits

Another crucial element while infusing thandai with spirits is an acute understanding of the flavour profile of varied liquors and choosing what would work best in a classic concoction. This means that you would want to avoid some of the smoky spirits like whiskies or single malts because their intense notes might not always blend well with an already spiced drink containing the slightly warm and toasty appeal of poppy seeds and cinnamon.

Spicing It Up: The Art Of Infusing Thandai With Spirits

However, adding a 30 ml pour of Ketel One Premium Distilled Vodka to a shaker while building the ingredients to make a thandai will introduce a buzz into the drink without burdening it too much with the alcohol’s taste. The translucent spirit is perfect for cocktail mixes especially because it allows the mixers and other non-alcoholic ingredients to shine.

Building Ingredients

If you are a mixology enthusiast, remember that you have to build your ingredients steadily so as to arrive at the perfect flavour balance. Many times, adding everything to a shaker together might lead to a slightly underwhelming drink because you tend to be wary of adding ingredients generously. So, begin building all your ingredients one by one and taste as you go along, adjusting the flavour notes according to your preferences. Some prefer an elevated cinnamon note in their drink while others favour the essence of rose petals. To ensure that you are able to craft your spiked thandai in a way that suits your taste buds, go slow with your ingredients especially once you have already added alcohol into the drink because booze can lower the intensity of other flavours causing a slight imbalance.

Spicing It Up: The Art Of Infusing Thandai With Spirits

Shake With Ice

Another way to ensure that your drink has the adequate booze to thandai ratio is to make sure you add ice during and not after the preparation is ready. This way, you can build an intense drink keeping in mind that its flavour might get diluted once the ice starts to melt. For boozy drinks, this holds especially true because their intensity tends to become very mellow once the ice has melted completely.

As such, when you pair your thandai with gin, be extra careful because this botanically infused spirit is very light and its flavour can be obscured if there is too much ice in your drink. Simultaneously, know that thandai has to be served cold so while ice is a necessity, you can be a bit generous with the addition of a quality Tanqueray No. Ten Gin and go for a 60 ml pour to give your drink an adequately boozy kick.

The art of infusing thandai with spirits is as much about understanding the flavour profile of the spirits as about the technique of mixing drinks and getting these right would mean that your boozy thandai becomes the showstopper at the next spring party you host!

Bonus: A Recipe For Baileys Thandai

Now that you've got the lowdown on how to impart a spirited touch to your thandai, let's try one specific recipe that we absolutely love, for a Baileys Thandai.

Thandai, But Tipsy: 3 Tips For Heady Sips

You'll need:

For the thandai powder (if making from scratch),
¼ cup Almonds
¼ cup Pistachio
¼ cup Cashew nuts
2 tbsp Poppy seeds
2 tbsp Fennel seeds
8 qts Green cardamom pods' seeds
2 tbsp Dried rose petals
1 tbsp Black pepper powder
¼ tbsp Saffron

Grind these ingredients into a coarse powder. You can store it in an airtight container for later use as well, for up to two months.

To prepare the drink itself, gather: 
2 cups Full cream milk
2 tbsp Sugar
2 tbsp Thandai powder
A few strands of saffron
6 tbsp Baileys Irish cream
2 tbsp Silvered pistachios for garnish
1 tbsp Dried rose petals (optional)

Boil the milk with sugar and few strands of saffron. Add the ground thandai powder and Baileys Irish cream and mix well. Refrigerate for a minimum of 4 hours. Strain, garnish with pistachio slivers and crushed rose petals, and serve chilled.

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