Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Indian Intoxication at Carom

I didn't say no to the offer to partake in a bit of mixology and whisky drinking at new Indian-themed bar Carom. Here's the piece I wrote for Scout London about it.

The build-up to Christmas last year saw new Indian dining concept Carom swing open its doors in the spot above Cuban bar Floridita at 100 Wardour Street. It’s the latest newbie from restaurant behemoth D&D London, and their first foray into Indian dining.

The bar here is key, and it takes just a glance around the carefully orchestrated decor of lanterns and curtains to see the effort that’s been put in to transforming the potentially cavernous space into a cosy sub-continental retreat.

The addition of some bar-time fun in the form of Indian board game and namesake Carrom (think a cross between shuffleboard and air hockey) is a touch you won’t find elsewhere, but what’s really got us at Scout excited is the equally unique selection of drinks on offer.

On a recent night of mixology show-offery put on by the bar, we marvelled at the array of infused spirits, syrups and solutions that the team have created in their quest for the best Indian-inspired cocktails. The Maharaja Fizz is one such creation, blending saffron infused vodka with homemade rose water and Prosecco for a refreshing Asian take on the Bucks Fizz that doesn’t even involve any skirt stripping.

The wittily named Buddhatini mixes saffron gin, dry vermouth, mango puree, cumin and orange bitters for a punch-packing drink that will leave you feeling like a very happy Buddha if you have a few of them.

Purists fear not: you haven’t been forgotten. Carom’s drinks list boasts an impressive selection of localised specialities including some highly quaffable Indian wine and a stunning selection of Indian whisky from the acclaimed Amrut distillery in Bangalore. You just better not count the air miles. Or tell the Scots.

The bar has also taken the English G&T under its wings, a homage to the fact that this – probably the world’s first cocktail – is widely thought to have been created in India during colonial times, albeit by the British military.

Some sobriety-reinforcing snacks in the form of spiced-up king prawns, pappadums and potato cakes adorned with tamarind chutney do their job in style and whet our appetite for the main restaurant. That’s a story for another time, though. Now, how do you say “a wee dram” in Indian?

Carom, 100 Wardour Street, W1F 0TN

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