Easy DIY cocktail recipes to help you add punch to the festival of colour

The festival of colour is upon us. This means white clothes serving as a canvas for splatterings of colour. It means water balloons and water guns, and sometimes squirtings on unsuspecting passers-by. It means a table laden with special sweets and refreshing drinks. It means day-long parties with loud music and much gaiety.

And can Holi be complete without thandai? The cooling and refreshing drink made with milk, spices and dry fruit, is a creamy and nutty part of every celebration.

If you want to have a cheerful Holi, you don’t just need thandai. Capture the spirit of Holi with these innovative cocktails. Spoiler alert: there’s no bhaang involved. For those missing their dose of thandai, there’s a recipe for the cooling beverage but, spiked with alcohol.

Mummy spiked the Thandai

“A Holi cocktail is one that embodies seasonality, cheer, festivity and love,” says Conrad Braganza, mixologist and blender at Agave India, Goa. “It’s like a deconstructed version of a thandai with familiar ingredients like coconut milk, cardamom and rose. As you pour the rose syrup, you get this red colour transitioning into pink and then yellow, a veritable ombre contrasting against the green leaf. It’s a refreshing and colourful Holi drink.”


30 ml white rum infused for a few minutes with six crushed seeds of green cardamom

30 ml coconut milk

120 ml mango juice/ pulp

12ml rose syrup

1 tender betel leaf


Shake coconut milk, mango and rum or stir vigorously. Pour in a glass on ice. Pour  rose syrup into this mixture over back of teaspoon so it sinks to the bottom. Stir slightly. Garnish with a betel leaf.


“This is a light refreshing summer cocktail made with ingredients easily found in any  household,” says Andrew Qadri, freelance mixologist in Bengaluru. “The homemade roasted cumin honey water, a melange of fresh lime and orange juice shaken with gin with a slight Indian finish of roasted cumin makes for an easy sipping, all-day cocktail perfect for this Holi summer.”


50 ml gin

15 ml fresh lime juice

30 ml fresh orange juice

20 ml roasted cumin honey water


Roasted cumin: roast a tbsp of cumin seeds in a dry pan till it smokes, add 150ml water and bring to a boil. Add 300 ml honey, stir well and when cooled, refrigerate it.

Add all ingredients into a cocktail shaker loaded with ice, shake hard for 10 to 15  seconds, fine strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Finish with essential oils from the skin of an orange, and use the same as a garnish.


“Holi is a fun energetic festival celebrating spring. Thandai is passé hence I came up with this caffeine-intense cocktail with lovely flavourings of pistachio to give you a good boost on the festival day,” says Dushyant Tanwar, head mixologist and brand manager, Monika Enterprise (importer and distributor of premium alcohol and spirits).


25 ml Coffee syrup

60 ml pistachio-flavoured Belenkaya Vodka

3 drops saline solution (salt and water in the ratio of 1:4)


Coffee syrup: Mix and heat 200 gm instant coffee, 200 gm brown sugar and a litre of water in a pan till the sugar dissolves.

Pistachio infused Belenkaya/ vodka: Soak a handful of pistachios in 300 ml of Belenkaya Gold/vodka for 1.5 hours.

Shake all ingredients over ice and double strain in a chilled cocktail glass or an Old-Fashioned glass with ice. Garnish with leftover pistachios.

Gulabi Thandai

“Thandai is a quintessential Holi drink and I wanted to give a unique twist to it with tequila. The flavour of rose mixed with tequila gives it a distinctive yet delectable spin,” says Jayesh Koli, Bar Supervisor, Epitome.


60 ml Tequila

20 ml rose syrup

30 ml milk

Chopped almonds


Shake all ingredients with ice in a long glass.

Holi Monk

“Using our farm to foam approach to give you an interesting drink with our very own Old Monk paired with evergreen pineapple and orange, and topped with a homemade thandai coconut foam for that Holi touch,” says Megha Datwani, owner of Poco Loco Tapas and Bar, Bandra.


45 ml dark rum

20 ml pineapple juice

20 ml orange juice

10 ml lime juice

Thandai coconut foam


Foam: combine 50 gm whipped cream, 15 ml coconut syrup , 20 ml Amul Thandai mix and blend with a hand blender. Scoop out the foam from the top.

In a crystal glass, mix the juices and Old Monk and top with the foam. Garnish with pista or almonds.

Tequila Thandai

“This is a healthy drink with a kick,” says Canisio Carneiro, Food and Beverage Manager, Novotel Goa Resort & Spa. “The fennel and rose petals help in cooling the body during summer. Fennel is also known for its anti-inflammatory properties and aids in curing flatulence. The use of cardamom, pepper and cloves present in the thandai are natural immunity boosters too.”


90ml tequila

40ml rabdi

40ml homemade rose syrup with rose petal chiffonade

1 tsp chopped roasted almonds

Pinch of 4 spice mix (equal amounts of powdered pepper, fennel, cardamom and clove)

1 tsp honey

1 scoop of ice

Rose petals for garnish


Add ice in a cocktail shaker, then tequila, rabdi, rose syrup, chopped almonds, spice mix and honey. Cover and shake well. For a festive look, use kulhads instead of glasses. Garnish the cocktail with a rose petal and chopped roasted almonds.


“A refreshing and healthful drink, thandai is savoured in the midst of the play of colours. A glass of it offers instant energy and sets the mood for playing with colour. Besides, when laced with the intoxicating bhang it can make one sing, dance and go wild. In fact, bhang thandai is used as a mood setter for the festival of Holi,” says Nilesh Patel, Beverage Head (West), Impresario Handmade Restaurants.


45 ml Old Monk rum

1 tsp Thandai Masala Paste (or 45 ml ready-made mix)

150 ml milk


Thandai Masala Paste (for six): blend 50 gm almonds, 20 gm pistachios, 20 gm poppy seeds,  100 gm melon seeds, two dried rose petals, 10 gm each of fennel seeds and black pepper, 4 green cardamom, a pinch of saffron, 100 gm sugar and 10 ice cubes.

Blend all the ingredients together in a blender. Pour in a big glass over ice

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