Infiniti and beyond

Now the sounds of the Asian underground have started to reach the masses, it's time for a bar to match
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Indy Lifestyle Online

Bar Infiniti claims to be the first bar to add vodka to lassi, but proprietor Robert Gupta's motive for opening it has more to do with music than with lacing Indian drinks with alcohol: "I love seeing people's heads nodding to music.

Bar Infiniti claims to be the first bar to add vodka to lassi, but proprietor Robert Gupta's motive for opening it has more to do with music than with lacing Indian drinks with alcohol: "I love seeing people's heads nodding to music.

"Gupta used to work as an IT salesman, but his passion for music eventually got the better of him; in July this year he opened his bar in Clapham, London, and started a complementary record label, with the aim of nurturing Asiatic hip hop. On Saturday night he runs Asiatic Voyage here, a hip hop, trip hop and Asian underground session. As a British Asian he wants it to be a showcase for music like that of Mercury Prize-winner Talvin Singh: "He is the man, the godfather, in my opinion."

Avoiding associations with the Taj Mahal and new wave Indian restaurants with their kasbah colours and pashmina sensibilities, the bar is plainly furnished. A balcony looks down on to Lavender Hill as well as on to those in the bar below. Paintwork is deep blue and burgundy; a Sanskrit mural is destined for one wall, but for the meantime the decoration is kept to a minimum. The Infiniti house cocktail contains vodka, Red Bull, triple sec, absinthe, lime juice and grenadine in a lethal, orange mixture which fills a pint glass. It sells for £6.50, or £3.25 as a Monday-to-Friday cocktail promotion. Infiniti and other cocktails tend towards the sweet and fruity: Iglu (Midori, Malibu, creme de cacao, blue Curacao, cream), Bubble Gum (Midori, creme de banane, orange juice, grenadine) and Filthy Rich (tequila gold, Goldschlager cinnamon schnapps, Bacardi, lemonade, Stolichnaya, lime juice) share the menu with Manhattans, Margaritas and Sea Breezes.

As yet, Bar Infiniti's clientele has been mainly non-Asian, and enjoys both the cocktails and the beers. Instead of the commonplace Cobra and Kingfisher, it stocks Lal Toofan in bottles and on draught, and Bangla beer.

"It's our century," Gupta says of his generation of British Asians, "Talvin Singh has shown us the way."

Bar Infiniti has the drinks to go with the music. Bar Infiniti, 245 Lavender Hill, London SW11 (0171-228 9824). Open Mon- Fri 4-11pm, Sat 2-11pm.

1. Lassi

This refreshing, traditional Indian yoghurt drink comes either salted or sweet. Here they add cream to make it even smoother, or you may choose to have it flavoured with mango, passion, pineapple or cranberry juices, and Absolut vodka. Mango lassi is by far the most popular choice - I think it tastes better without alcohol.

4dsp low-fat yoghurt1dsp cream (optional)125-150ml mango juice1dsp sugar or sugar syrup to tastea handful of ice

Pour all the ingredients into a liquidiser and blend together until smooth. If using, pour one measure of vodka into the bottom of a highball glass, add the blended yoghurt, mango juice and ice, and stir well to distribute the vodka evenly.

2. Bangla beer

A 660ml bottle of sweet, 5.5ABV beer that does not originate from Bangladesh, despite the name and the Bengali script on the label. It is actually brewed by Usher's in Wiltshire and designed to accompany spicy,sub-continental food.

3. Paradise Found

As with most of Bar Infiniti's cocktails, Paradise Found is sweet (but not overpoweringly so), fruity and far stronger than it tastes.

1/2 measure Midori1/2 measure Bacardi1/2 measure Archers1/2 measure Malibu1/2 measure triple secjuice of 1/2 squeezed lime100ml mango juice

Pour each of the ingredients over crushed ice and add a dash of Grenadine for a vivid trickle-down effect.

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