Bhang in Brunswick: An unlikely spot for cocktails

Darjeeling and Haldi Amigo. Photo: Jake Roden

Darjeeling and Haldi Amigo. Photo: Jake Roden

Cocktails are not first things that come to mind when thinking about Indian restaurants.

A Kingfisher lager, perhaps, or a lassi of some description are more likely go-tos. Beer and lassi are on the drinks menu at Bhang, an excellent two-level bar and restaurant in Brunswick, but the on-theme cocktails being shaken and mixed at the downstairs bar are more worthy of attention.

Bhang’s cocktail list shows how adaptable and accommodating cocktails can be. Bartender Hamish Drummond gives classic cocktails an Indian flourish via chai syrups, hemp-seed orgette, chai infused vermouth, Darjeeling tea syrup and flavours like star anise, turmeric and tamarind. Drummond clearly understands these flavours and his short, sharp cocktail list impresses with its balance and restraint.

The Haldi Amigo is the Bhang take on a margarita with the usual tequila (Tromba) and citrus base given a salt and turmeric rim that adds colour and a layer of pungent complexity. The Indian Lady has gin infused with lemon rind, cumin and cinnamon shaken with chai syrup, Cointreau, lemon juice and an egg white.

Bhang has a happy hour every evening from 5pm to 7pm and this is where the cocktail experiments get an airing. It’s a good chance to preview what might be up for a permanent slot on the next cocktail menu and to hand over less money for the privilege.

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