It’s local, it’s low-cal: The new sustainable cocktail menu at Hopshaus

The sustainable cocktail menu at Hopshaus Bangalore is a glimpse into the future of drinking.
The cheery interiors of hopshaus. Image: anurag mallick & priya ganapathy.
The cheery interiors of Hopshaus. Image: Anurag Mallick & Priya Ganapathy.

What on earth is a sustainable, low-calorie cocktail menu in the first place? To find out precisely that, we stomped up the steps past Sanchez/Sriracha on Bangalore’s culinary superavenue, 12th Main Indiranagar, to meet head mixologist Robert Hospet at Hopshaus. 

We spend the next minute dwelling on that most critical yet painful decision to make the moment you enter a restaurant — where to sit? The high stools overlooking the road looked pretty but seemed a trifle noisy, the low seating was a little dim lit to click food pics, so we settled at a nice bright spot by the bar.

Recycled kappa martini and the celery & cilantro southside.
Recycled Kappa Martini and the Celery & Cilantro Southside. Image: Anurag Mallick & Priya Ganapathy.

Glancing at the tent card on the table, we order the first two — Celery & Cilantro Southside and Recycled Kappa Martini. Robert returns with our cocktails and we quiz him on the menu. Coming on the heels of Dry January and Veganuary, the idea was to usher in the New Year with lower alcohol content and a low-calorie menu following a sustainable approach using fresh artisanal ingredients to make your drinking experience healthier.

Pesto-topped vegetables in mini cones are a house classic at hopshaus.
Pesto-topped vegetables in mini cones are a house classic at Hopshaus. Image: Anurag Mallick & Priya Ganapathy.

The Celery & Cilantro Southside is a refreshing gin cocktail with citrus and aromatic herbs, vital minerals and vitamins. A classic Southside has gin, mint, lime and sugar syrup but Robert replaced the sugar with honey, locally sourced from Honey Day Bee Farms, run by apiarist Apoorva. The celery and cilantro impart herby notes and a savoury flavour to balance the sweetness.

Hops spiced pita pillows at hosphaus.
Hops spiced pita pillows at Hosphaus. Image: Anurag Mallick & Priya Ganapathy.

There’s a lot of coffee used in the sister establishment Sanchez, the Mexican restaurant. Instead of throwing away the coffee grounds, Robert dunked it in ice — and had some nice cold brew ready in the morning. Rather than using a fresh shot of espresso, it’s ‘recycled’ kaapi martini. Its mellow mild flavour makes it eminently drinkable. 

The team behind the sustainable cocktail menu at hopshaus.
The team behind the sustainable cocktail menu at Hopshaus. Image: Anurag Mallick & Priya Ganapathy.

Soon Chef Vikas Seth joins us and settles for a Hot Toddy. Being a natural immunity booster rich in antioxidants, honey is a key ingredient in the drinks menu and Robert sources local Coorg honey for the hot toddy and mead. The Low-Cal Highball is a classic combination of spiced honey and whisky topped with homemade soda. “Let’s make Bees Knees great again,” he chuckles, referring to the Prohibition Era gin cocktail that uses fresh lemon juice and honey.

Low cal highball and the jackfruit & jalapeño margarita.
Low Cal Highball and the Jackfruit & Jalapeño Margarita. Image: Anurag Mallick & Priya Ganapathy.

Robert is from Goa and grew up in Karnataka. He was a personal butler to Nita Ambani and worked on a cruise ship. All of 33, he considers himself “old school” and loves classics like Manhattan and Old Fashioned. “The bar is like a temple for me. Everything on the menu is a take on a classic. It’s important to know or perfect the classics, otherwise you can’t make a signature.” He did the pre-opening of Bootlegger Bar, which had 77 classic cocktails and has been around with the Embassy Leisure group for five years now.

The flaky amritsari kulcha at hopshaus.
The flaky Amritsari kulcha at Hopshaus. Image: Anurag Mallick & Priya Ganapathy.

Recalling his first tryst with sustainable cocktails, he talks about his creation ‘Enter the Dragon’ at Grand Hyatt, Goa in 2015. They used to host several weddings there and one fruit that came out of room amenities and got dumped at the bar was dragonfruit! So, a resolute Robert scooped out its flesh, retained the peel, used dehydrated lemon and lemongrass and made a cocktail out of it! At the national platform, he created a drink, Baavli (craziness) from Martini Bianco and represented India at world competitions. He has a soft corner for bitters — especially homemade Naga bitters and Parangi malu or bird eye chilli from Coorg, which he uses for one of his favourites, Litchi Mojito.

The wine-braised mushroom and brie pizza is stellar.
The wine-braised mushroom and brie pizza is stellar. Image: Anurag Mallick & Priya Ganapathy.

Robert loves to play with Indian ingredients inspired by his mom’s and grandmom’s cooking. Case in point, our next drink — Jackfruit & Jalapeño Margarita. Jackfruit is the taste of nostalgia and childhood memories, and in season right now. The jalapeños give warmth and open up the taste buds, while the all-natural agave nectar cuts the heat from it. Laced with Sauza Tequila, it’s a perfectly balanced cocktail.

The cocktails go rather well with starters like Prawn Koliwada and Hummus with hops spiced pita pillows, which we use as tacos, encouraged by Chef Vikas! “A lot of our guests eat it that way!” We try the house classics — pesto-topped vegetables in mini cones set in a wooden tamaki/food cone stand followed by a flaky Amritsari kulcha, black pepper roasted tenderloin, chicken keema pav and the show stopper — pull-apart masala garlic bread that stretches up to a metre! The live pizza oven dishes out fresh thin-crust pizzas — we went with the utterly comforting and flavourful wine-braised mushroom and brie!  

Delectable desserts at hopshaus.
Delectable desserts at Hopshaus. Images: Anurag Mallick & Priya Ganapathy.

The last offering on the Sustainable Low-Cal menu is Daiquiri 2.0, a healthier twist that’s guilt-free — a clean blend of white rum, lime and Splenda, synonymous with sugar substitutes and reduced calorie food products. The irony is that after tiptoeing around the calorie chart, we undo all the good by ending the meal with a Bombay-style falooda kulfi and a sinful Sanchez tres leches! Guess we’ll roll with the punches or rather, the paunches. The décor, the vibe, the food by Chef Vikas, and Robert Hospet’s exciting new concoctions are excellent. So, hop across to Hopshaus, Indiranagar and try out something that’s both local and low-cal!

The well-appointed bar at hopshaus.
The well-appointed bar at Hopshaus. Image: Anurag Mallick & Priya Ganapathy.

Hopshaus, 608, 1st Floor, 12th Main Rd, 7th Cross, HAL 2nd Stage, Indiranagar, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560038
The sustainable cocktail menu is available till 27th February.
Timings: 11:30 am to 11:30 pm
Price: Rs 395 + taxes per cocktail

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