Chef Manish Tyagi at the new modern Indian restaurant August 1 Five isn’t messing around with his menu, which is full of neat stuff like a flight of gol guppa (the wheat-and-potatoes street food also known as panipuri) that he serves with various flavored waters, including grape, tamarind, mint-cilantro, mango, fruit punch.
But in a nice twist, it’s also a spot for exceptional $12 specialty cocktails, many of which are mixed with lots of Indian spices and herbs and a detectable whiff of India’s British influences. The Royal Bombay Yacht Club is one of the simpler ones, a classic mix of lime, mint, and Ancho Reyes chili liqueur. But things get complex quickly, with the Bollywood Funk (amontillado, black tea, absinthe and the funky, distilled-molasses spirit Batavia Arrack)
The ingredients can be relatively unfamiliar, like jaggery (an unrefined sugar) or outright daring. Like a standard Pimm’s Cup, the Cricket Cup runs on Pimm’s and cucumber shrub with its ginger ale, but adds yogurt liqueur. A Turmeric Lassi combines dark rum with passion fruit and kefir.
And if you know anything about Indian drinking culture, you’ll gravitate toward the Patiala Peg (scotch, Cocchi Americano, Gran Classico, angostura, and sarsaparilla root liquor), which is named for a grandiose early 20th-century maharaja famed for his cricket teams. (Swathed in jewels and looking at you with bedroom eyes, his visage is on one wall, across from an image of a peacock.)
His name has become synonymous with a hefty 120-mL pour of booze. We can get behind that.
August 1 Five, 524 Van Ness Avenue 415-771-5900 or august1five.com