In Review

Gymkhana and Pehaligon’s: smelling of roses

A new cocktail menu pairs cocktails and perfumes with Michelin-starred Indian dishes

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If the first bite is with the eye, the second is with the nose - a sensory phenomenon put to good use this spring by Gymkhana, the Michelin-starred Indian restaurant in Mayfair, central London.

The luxury British perfumier Penhaligon’s has joined forces with the restaurant’s chefs and bartenders to develop a series of dishes and drinks inspired by the aromas of India - from the rose gardens of Jodhpur to the tea-carts of Kolkata.

The result is the Attar of India cocktail lists, a diverse quartet of drinks, each served with a sample of the scent that led to its creation.

The journey begins with a stroll through a maharaja’s garden, evoked by an inhalation of Penhaligon’s floral perfume Vaara, rich with the scent of honey and magnolia. Its accompanying cocktail, Champagne Blossom, starts with Tanqueray No Ten gin and layers on flavours of lychee, verjus and raspberry, which pairs nicely with the hibiscus raspberry gel accompanying the introductory poppadoms.

With the formalities done and dusted, two serious drinks vie for the main course pairing - the Rum and Raison and the whisky-based Passage to India. The latter evokes the long voyage from England with the salty tang of Johnnie Walker Gold, and Penhaligon’s Lothair scent, with its musky blend of wenge wood and ambergris. It’s perfect for slaking the heat of Gymkhana’s exquisitely fiery chicken tikka thighs, marinated in Kashmiri chilli.

There’s even a match for dessert, made with Amrut single malt from India, along with masala chai and clarified milk. Silky and soothing, the mulled spice aroma is the perfect accompaniment to a peanut butter brownie in Keralan sauce - and the nutmeg-and-cedar notes of Penhaligon’s Paithani eau de parfum.

Gymkhana, 42 Albemarle Street, London W1

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