Print Me A Pretty Cocktail

Mixologists across India are owning the trend of edible photo prints on to give your drink a visual oomph

Published On Mar 28, 2024 | Updated On Apr 02, 2024


Picture this: A designer designs a creative, customises it to size and shape and clicks print. Nothing out of the ordinary here, yet. The print out comes out not on regular paper but an edible potato starch paper that is cut into bulk pieces and shipped to a bar where the mixologist will use it as garnish. 

The last decade has witnessed a sea change in the world of cocktails. Mixologists and bar chefs have been invested in improving the quality of drinks by elevating ingredients and techniques to pour us better tasting cocktails. In the recent years, the visual presentation of cocktails have undergone a wardrobe change – using garnishes as a tool to narrate original concepts. 

Summer & Smoke at Sidecar, Delhi

Yangdup Lama, founder of Sidecar, which tops the list of 30BestBars in the country, stresses that the look for a cocktail has always been important. The edible paper trend has picked up because it is easy to pull off and consistent. “You don’t need to do the design and cutting for each cocktail. It’s already ready,” says Lama, giving due credit to collaborations and global exchange of ideas for improvement of creativity, service, and overall bar ethos. 

“Today, bars are able to define their approach – minimalist and clean, flamboyant and loud. Storytelling around cocktail has deepened because mixologists are more confident to be original. No more copy pasting borrowed ideas,” he adds, who made a cocktail Summer & Smoke that required a mandala on his foam in 2021. 


Titepati at Sidecar Delhi

That’s when he reached out to Richa Priyanka Jain of Chandanmal Kanhaiyalal in Delhi. Call it a candy store for mixologists with edible glitter, flammable paper and various garnishes on offer. “Yangdup sir came with a request for a mandala print to place on a cocktail and we tried it out. This trend has blown up since 2022. We were the first to export edible potato starch paper from the Netherland and customise it as per requirement. Just the way you take a printout, we design prints and shapes for our customers and print it out – this time, on edible paper,” says Jain explaining that before this. Before this, bars were procuring edible sugar fondant prints from bakeries but due to its weight the trend didn’t sit well. 

On Lama’s current menu, he uses a cut-out print of the tite pati leaf as garnish for the cocktail by the same name that uses the herb. “The leaf is a local Himalayan herb and not easily available. The edible prints make it easy,” he smiles. 

Drinks tell a story 

Early this year, when Slow Tide, a restaurant that celebrates Goa’s hippie culture with its food and alcohol offerings, participated in a one-night bar takeover at Bandra Born in Mumbai, one cocktail gave us a heady trip. Namely, Acid Eric, inspired by a bloke, who lived on Anjuna in the 60s, known for distributing psychedelic substances. The tequila-drink based drink was treated to an almond-milk-washed concoction of watermelon, basil, yuzu and citrus acid mix. The block of ice was garnished with an edible photo print depicting the story of Albert Hoffman, a Swiss chemist who invented LSD by chance. 

Acid Eric at Slow Tide Goa

Sujan Shetty, beverage manager at Slow Tide, says, “Right now, is a time to experiment with the look of your cocktail. Guests love to show off what they are drinking on social media, and bars get to leverage that. Also, with the new techniques such as clarification, the drink earns textures and colours that cloak the ingredients. You won’t know until you try Acid Eric that it has hints of yuzu and watermelon. That is also a part of the cocktail experience,” he says. 

On Pearls of Queen’s Necklace at Bandra’s Mag St., a BEST bus whizzes past the busy Kala Ghoda Art Gallery on an edible photo print placed on a clear ice block. Group beverage manager, The Table and Mag St., Durgesh Singh says, “It is a dedication to the busiest areas of Colaba, where our first outpost stands. The drink is a pisco sour with a twist of Parmesan, white chocolate, paan, amaretto, lemon juice and egg white. International bar takeovers and mixologists travelling abroad are creating this exchange of new ideas,” says Singh. 

Pearls of Queen's Necklace at Mag St, Mumbai 

Cup Noodles is a savoury cocktail on the Shortest Route cocktail menu at Pandan Club, Chennai. Gin infused with cup noodles is topped with masala foam. An edible rice paper with a cup noodle doodle adds a visual appeal. Manoj Padmanaban, co-founder, Pandan Club, says, “The focus is to create drama that is so good to taste, they should bring back memories and create stories in every sip.” 

Cup Noodles at Pandan Club, Chennai

For many bars, it turns into a canvas to promote their logo. At SOKA Bengaluru, Made in Heaven is a mix between a Strawberry Daiquiri and Pina Colada served in an old-fashioned glass with a clear block of ice, is canvas to place their logo. “Garnishes are used to give a visual appeal. The photo print is placed on an ice block when the liquid is lower than the ice. Sometimes, it is clipped to the glass on the outside for show. We Just the way we eat our food with our eyes before we taste, drinks also are earning a stronger visual appeal. We prefer to do this for drinks that guests won’t stir,” says Avinash Kapoli, partner at SOKA who has curated the bar programme. 

Made In Heaven at SOKA, Bengaluru

At Mehico in Kolkata, The Capitol has a façade of Mexican design with "Made in Mehico” printed onto a wafer sheet, The drink uses a base of premium tequila, infused with Pequin chilli distillate, then blended through carbonation with Cointreau, and complemented by in-house creations, like jamun cider vinegar, passionfruit syrup and basil water. “Crafting a cocktail involves meticulous attention to detail, creating a visually captivating and harmonious drinking experience that delights both the taste buds and the eyes. Selecting the right glassware, such as coupes, highballs, or martini glasses, sets the stage for presentation. Colour coordination of garnishes, syrups, and liqueurs adds depth,” says head mixologist Manoj Singh Rawat. 

The Capitol at Mehico Kolkata

According to chef-owner Alex Sanchez of The Americano, the last few years, mixologists have bettered the art of ingredients in cocktails. Cut to phase two, a lot of though is given to the design of a cocktail. “Our first experience with a drink is visual. In cooking, we have long acknowledged that we eat first with our eyes.  With a cocktail, appearance is important—it excites us and prepares us for what our other senses are about to experience. In the early days of cocktails, we’re talking over a hundred years ago, there was perhaps an even greater emphasis on presentation, whether that be a bartender’s flare or the generous ceremony of a share punch bowl. Since then, cocktails have taken many forms, but I am pleased to see that bartenders are back at it, making their drinks as visually appealing as they are delicious,” says Sanchez, drawing attention to flavour. 

“We never want the idea or the presentation to come at the expense of the taste. But when done right, with care, cocktail décor can greatly increase the pleasure in drinking. Last Christmas gave us the opportunity to have a little more fun and introduce a bit of whimsy into our drinks. We made some festive illustrations onto edible sheets to adorn our cocktails. As they tipped their noses into the drinks, at first sip, they were greeted by a fun illustration that nodded to the season,” he signs off.  

Photo: Featured Outlets