The charm of a Speakeasy bar is in the mythical stature of offerings inside. The thrill of forbidden indulgence, these establishments first came into prominence during the Prohibition era of 1920s America. Today, the choicest places from London to New Delhi play on understated popularity, with a loyal stream of patrons and name that spreads through hushed whispers.
We discovered PDA (PCO Diva Agenzia) during an endeavour to map this trend in India, and thus narrow down on its origins. A joint venture between PCO bar and Diva the Italian restaurant, PDA brings the best of spirits and food to the table - an infusion in true sense.
PCO is one of the first such speakeasy bars in its category, which laid down a firm trend in the country. Blending its ambience with the Spritz lifestyle of northern Italy, it is the perfect Aperitivo setting you need after a long day at work. Synonymous for classics like Old Flower, Elderflower Spritz and a range of Martini style drinks like The Gibson, The Martinez, Dirty Martini - cocktails are paired with authentic Italian cuisine.
What gets us to the bar is their list of in-house Gin Infusions ?
“Currently with over 15 different options to spoil you, we provide an experience like no other. Earl Grey & Orange, Pineapple & Lavender, Basil & Lemon, Grapefruit & Rosemary are the crowd favorites, paired with different flavored Tonics. We also craft a few special ones like Olive, Plum and Saffron either for cocktails or to be served on the rocks. Our version of a Smoky Martini made with Saffron infused gin will leave you ‘Twirling In the Air’, as the name playfully suggests.”
The 'Mood Cocktail' also manages to turn heads
“Armed with a variety of bitters like lavender, rhubarb, celery - collected from different corners of the world - and the varieties of infusions and house made liqueurs - we pride ourselves to craft a drink based on the flavor of your choice. Simply grab a bar stool and leave the rest to us.” Which is exactly what we did, believing every word they said.
How do they make Gin Infusions happen?
With a tumultuous history that dates back to hundreds of years, Gin is a spirit flavoured by botanicals. The charm has more than just been retained through time, and it has found mass appeal in patrons across age groups. Every variety has its own nuance, and it is this desire to explore which led the initiative.
“We have used different techniques to achieve our goal. For soft fleshed fruits, we borrow a French cooking technique called Sous-Vide, which allows us to procure all flavors by application of heat, while still protecting the precious Gin in a vacuum sealed bag. For dried aromatics like lavender, we use a modern cold infusion technique with the help of NO2 cartridges. For some, we stay with old-school steeping or maceration techniques. This involves combining spirit with the chosen flavor, by keeping a close eye on your palate. It has taken a lot of trial and errors, but our patrons have always provided their kind guidance. It is thanks to their appreciation that we now have Gin with 18 different flavors.”
“Now that we have found our identity, we plan to keep perfecting our niche by introducing a lot more infusions. As a part of our next phase, we would have a collection of more than 25 gin infusions. Also, our focus would be on the most important element of our drinks - ice. The program will see our unique Gins served with crystal clear ice, hand carved to provide the exact amount of dilution required. It will add to our repertoire of garnish, which already includes dehydrated garnish and vacuum infused fruits. We might be Delhi's best kept secret, but we are keen to be known as India's Best Bar. All we need is our patrons giving us a nod in that direction.”