Indian cocktails sometimes don’t get much attention compared to other types of cocktails here in the U.S.
With a little lemon juice, simple syrup, chaat masala, and tonic water, you’re about to stir up something reminiscent of India!
India has many exotic dishes to serve and numerous types of snacks to delight kids and adults alike.
But these little goodies are often lost in the shadow cast by the more celebrated beverages, food, and alcohol.
We’re talking cocktail recipes here!
Get your mixers like club soda and triple sec and a variety of Indian spices, and you’re set.
Whatever mood or occasion, there is always a cocktail ideal for whenever you’re craving something Indian.
These cocktails are great for when you want to break the monotony of your weekly cocktail parties or traditional special occasions.
Everyone would love the range of flavors and sensations these cocktails bring to the table.
An East India Gimlet can be your go-to cocktail for those days when you need a pick-me-up after work or a stressful day.
You can also try a Tamarind Margarita for that tangy kick to wake your system up on a tired midday lunch.
Want something authentically Indian from the first sip to the last?
Then why not try #13 for a truly amazing drinking experience?
Here are 17 of the best Indian cocktails perfect for any and every occasion or mood, whatever you’re feeling right now.
This sweet and boozy Mango Lassi is a great cocktail that includes mango, kaffir lime, and other ingredients.
The vibrant Indian color palette of yellow, red, and white adds to the exotic feel of this Indian cocktail.
India is known for mangoes, so it would be a must-try on your list whenever you set foot in an Indian restaurant or go on a trip to India.
Use mango powder instead, if fresh mangoes are out of season where you are.
The kaffir lime offers the right amount of tartness without ruining the entire palate.
This creamy mango lassi might be a great introduction to the refreshing taste of India in these popular cocktails.
The Tamarind Margarita is a unique twist on the traditional margarita.
Tamarind is used throughout southern India and has been used in Indian cooking for centuries.
Its sweet and sour flavor adds complexity to this cocktail.
The sourness of the tamarind is similar to that of lemon and lime.
Still, this one has an earthy tone that adds another level of deliciousness to it.
Indian Winter is a cocktail with cardamom in it, among other ingredients.
It’s a very simple recipe, but the combination of flavors is outstanding.
Cardamom is known to share a similar but more subtle flavor profile as cinnamon sticks so this is a pleasant taste even to total newbies to Indian cuisine.
This cocktail is perfect for when you have guests over or to make in advance if you are away from home.
The flavors will improve with time, so it’s best to make it in advance.
Allow the flavors to sit for a few days before serving.
This drink is a cocktail named after Kerala, one of the biggest cities in India.
The name is inspired by the colors of sunset over the Arabian Sea.
It is also incredibly invigorating and light.
Kerala sunset has become such a popular drink that it’s now available in many bars throughout India.
Grab one with your girlfriends as you share the steamiest gossip of the week.
Masala Chai Sour is a sweet, savory, and spicy cocktail that is perfect for the summer months.
The Masala Chai Sour recipe combines chai with a traditional sour cocktail mixture to create an exotic drink with a hint of sweetness and spice.
The masala adds that savory flavor to the mix while adding just enough sweetness to keep it from being too tart.
This makes this cocktail great for those who like their mixed drinks on the sweeter side without being extra sweet or sugar syrup like some other cocktails tend to be.
It’s a complex set of flavors with a big splash of celebration.
The best part is the garam masala-spiced butter sweetening the hot buttered rum while adding a great savory kick.
You can also alter the spice level according to taste.
If you have a sensitive palate or are unsure about how much heat you can handle, start with less then slowly add more as your taste buds adjust.
Whatever rum you have on hand works, but a dash of white rum will do the trick just fine.
No list of Indian cocktails would be complete without this drink.
Perfect on a hot summer day (on the verandah, of course), this drink offers a great way to beat the summer heat.
Black Indian salt and fresh mint leaves add a layer of depth to this classic cocktail.
The drink is named after the Hindi word for lemonade, nimbu pani.
This is great on those warm summer nights when you need just the right amount of kick and refreshment to end your day on a high note.
The Bengal Tiger is India’s national animal, and there’s no better way to celebrate this than with a delightful cocktail.
Nothing speaks more Indian than this cocktail.
This is perfect for brunches with your gal pals with equal parts refreshing and tasty.
The Bengal Tiger is a drink that’ll get you in the mood for a day at the beach.
Jal Jeera Mojito is a very simple yet delicious drink.
It is very popular in the North of India.
The richness of its flavor profile is ideal for those who want a cocktail with an authentic Indian feel.
You can enjoy chats, watch a movie, or just chill out with this drink!
Jangle your chilled glass with a few more ice cubes for a super refreshing touch!
10. Tandoori Tequila
No, it has no chicken bits in the drink.
One whiff of this drink, and you’ll be transported to the curry leaf-strewn markets of India.
The spicy floral-based cocktail is a breath of fresh air in a bar where normal cocktails are served to people.
Curry is often synonymous with India, and this drink is a testament to that relevance.
11. Mumbai Mule
Indians love their spirits just as much as the rest of the world, but when it comes to a choice of drink, they keep it much simpler.
The Mumbai mule is India’s answer to the Moscow Mule.
Yet, it has a bold flavor palette with several spices like saffron, cumin, and coriander.
The flavors make it unique and light enough for breakfast or any time of day.
12. Indian Hot Toddy
This cocktail has a remarkably spiced taste, as it comes from the traditional tadi, an Indian fermented drink gathered from the toddy palm.
The British added a bunch of spices to it, and the rest is history.
You can say that this is one of the best contributions of India to the culinary world, apart from the curry and other spices.
13. The Everest
Have you ever had a cocktail named after one of the tallest peaks in the world?
We didn’t think so.
But now you can, with this delicious drink called Everest, named after the famous (and dangerous) mountain.
This smart and spicy recipe is made from coconut cream and curry—two rather unexpected flavors in a drink.
This makes this drink very appetizing and intriguing to first-time Everesters who will crave it from just reading about it.
White Russian is all about creaminess and decadence, but do you know what can make that drink even more special?
The addition of vanilla chai to the mix!
This cocktail is a nice twist on the classic White Russian.
With the addition of chai and vanilla, it tones down the taste of high-quality vodka, making it more mellow.
Even in cocktails, chai never loses that comforting feel, which is why many people fall in love with chai every time.
Curry is India, and India is curry.
Made with curry leaf, this cocktail is perfect for wrapping your taste buds in the decadent flavors of a classic Indian meal.
You can even have this after a yoga session for a mild kick!
Worry no more about the curry overpowering the entire drink because the other ingredients balance the strong taste beautifully.
No worries, we didn’t forget about you gimlet lovers.
This version of the refreshing cocktail is made the Indian way and will quench your cocktail craving. It’s a great addition to your next party.
You can even have this as your go-to instead of the boring gin and tonic.
This cocktail will add a splash of South Asian culture into your mouth with each sip.
17. Vodka Shikanji
Shikanji is the finest counter-culture of Desi summers.
It’s the Desi version of the normal lemonade.
This is way better than lemonade, according to most Indians.
It’s the only drink that makes you feel all cool and emo while exuding an aura of your culture.
But when vodka is added to the mix, you know that you’re still not old enough for it, but damn sure gonna give it a shot anyway.
This is a wonderful way to give your Indian friends who want a taste of home away from home.
The bottom line
The Indian cocktail movement might not be getting as much attention as the craft beer movement, but it’s clearly a thing.
Be your own bartender and create delicious cocktails that will be off the beaten path with Indian Spiced Mojitos, an Indian Gin Cocktail and more.
Make substitutions as you need to: Switch out whole cardamom pods for the dried cardamom powder, and use kaffir lime syrup instead of fresh limes.
So now you know—Indian cocktails are definitely not basic cocktails and are worth paying attention to.
Not just because they’re delicious, but because of the unique cultural elements they represent.
What cocktails have intrigued you?
- Thandai Syrup
- Milk (nondairy is ok too)
- Garnish with threads of saffron
- Mix Thandai syrup, vodka, and milk with ice cubes in a cocktail shaker.
- Shake vigorously for a few seconds.
- Strain into your tall glass.
- Garnish with threads of saffron.