The first gin bar in Delhi, Juniper Bar at the contemporary arts hotel of Andaz Delhi, was born out of the desire to “not be just another bar.” The Hyatt brand is known for their trendsetting concepts especially in food and beverage, and with the Andaz ethos, it had to be local. So, by taking the trending spirit of gin (in vogue around the world but not yet taking off in India), infusing it will native spices, and serving it in an intimate communal-style bar, Juniper was conceived.
Bar manager, Prakesh, shares that it was a challenging start as India is all about whisky. It was difficult to break the market but the team pushed forward knowing that the only way to be cutting edge in a competitive culinary scene is to push boundaries. Their efforts paid off as foreign visitors immediately found comfort in the spirit and excitement in the infusions, while locals found familiarity in the spices and intrigue in the underutilized liquor.
The nucleus of the space on the ground floor of Andaz Delhi is a beautiful timber table. Surrounded by bar stools and backed by a rainbow of bottles, the design encourages communication between guests and removes barriers between staff and patrons. Prakesh says that he wants bar-goers to feel as if they’re right at home, so much so that he even encourages you to make your own cocktail if you so choose.
Gin Infusions, Juniper Bar Menu, Andaz Delhi
The bartenders infuse their own gins with local ingredients having up to 40 infusions available at any one time. The infusions are divided into five different families making it easy to identify the flavours: citrus, fruits, floral, herbs and spices. On top of that, there are 11 signature gin cocktails and in non-busy periods guests are even able to mix up their own bevvie.
Juniper Bar’s signature gin, Delhi Sapphire, plays cheekily upon the rift between Bombay and Delhi. Mirroring the shape of Bombay Sapphire, the saffron coloured bottle features a golden design of a step well which is unique to Delhi. “Just as the well should always be full of water, so should the bottle be full of alcohol,” says Prakesh. With the brazen tagline of “kicking Bombay’s ass since inception,” the bar displays it side by side with the Bombay Sapphire. Containing cumin, coriander, cardamom, vanilla, ginger and orange, on its own the aromas are significant and are followed through in the palate with a complexity of layers. Each ingredient comes to the forefront at a different stage of the sip. The vanilla smooths over the spices. It truly is worth appreciating first by itself over ice before topping up with tonic.
Of the kaleidoscope of tinctures lining the bar, the “pink and red” gins have become favourites, apparently, with groups of girls. They’re the berry infused recipes and besides looking pretty in the glass, offer friendly fruitiness in the mouth. With a strong scent of the berry, we savour the Strawberry. It makes a refreshing potion I imagine sipping on with girlfriends by the pool on a balmy afternoon.
Lavender is another popular choice. Its floral characteristics are very likeable and the flower is not commonly grown locally so is deemed as exotic. The oil in the bloom gifts the liquid a light mouth-coating viscosity.
Timur gained fame as this pepper from Nepal was originally used as a contemporary ingredient in food. The bar borrowed from the kitchen and it was a loan made in heaven. The initial aroma is of lemon but the moment you sip it a slight numbness develops on the tongue. It’s a different story again with a dash of tonic, opening up the profile and thinning out the mouthfeel.
Gin Cocktails, Juniper Bar, Andaz Delhi
Prakash announces that the infusions are done and that it’s now time for cocktails! Bartender Sandeep mixes our drinks today with the first one off the shelves, the Alchemy (900+). It’s one of the best-sellers, again because of the popularity of lavender gin. Egg white, elderflower syrup and lime juice are shaken together with the infusion over ice. Served in a martini glass the beverage settles with a foamy head and is garnished with edible flowers. It’s smooth and bitter and floral and sweet and sour all in one mouthful. Yum.
Quack Doctor is built up with a base of the Oak Smoke and Salt gin, orgeat syrup (the almond milk in the syrup is also made from scratch in house), lime juice and a splash of tonic. The Oak Smoke and Salt gin is sharp on its own but with the almond milk, the addition of fat, it takes like… bacon! Smokey breakfast bacon.
Forialy (900) comes elegantly served in a champagne flute and is based with green tea and grapefruit infused gin. Kashmiri tea, passionfruit syrup, a touch of lime and lavender extract. It’s a sweet beverage: for those liking a lighter dessert, it could well do as the end to a meal.
Reasons to visit Juniper Bar: Delhi’s first gin bar; friendly setting with a great communal table fostering social engagement; fantastic selection of gin infusions with botanicals native to India.
Juniper Bar Delhi, Andaz Delhi
Asset No. 1, Northern Access Road
Aerocity, Hospitality District
Indira Gandhi International Airport
New Delhi, Delhi 110037, India
+91 11 49031234
Juniper Bar Delhi opening hours: Daily 11 am – 1 am.