‘Kulukki Sarbath’ Gin and Tonic- A classic with a hint of Kerala

Anjali Venugopal May 26, 2020 NO COMMENTS

The Kulukki Sarbath is a popular and dearly local drink of Kerala. The kind you’d stop for at a roadside shop during a road trip in the hot sun. It’s not your regular lemonade. There’s a tiny bit of brazen Kerala added to the tall glass of cold lemonade in the form of green chilli and puffed basil seeds. And most importantly, its shaken. Not stirred. And hence the name, ‘Kulukki Sarbath.’.

I love the Kulukki Sarbath. It takes me back to my hometown every time I make a glass for myself. So, I decided to give it a little lift by combining it with a good old Gin and Tonic. The result, my friend, is pure magic. Give it a go.

Things you will need:

(for one drink)

  • Simple syrup – 15 ml ( If this is an unfamiliar term, fret not, I have included the method to prepare simple syrup in the ‘Notes’ section. Add more syrup if you like your drink sweeter. Remember the tonic adds sweetness too.)
  • Dry Gin- 60 ml
  • Soaked basil seeds (Sabja/Tukmaria)- 1-2 teaspoons (Soak one or two teaspoon of seeds in a few tablespoons of water for 10 minutes. They absorb the water and will puff up like chia. This is an inherent part of the roadside Kulukki Sarbath of Kerala.)
  • Green chilli- 1 slit lengthwise (add another if you’d like a bit more heat)
  • Juice of half a lime or 1 tablespoon of lime juice
  • A pinch of salt
  • Tonic water as needed
  • A slice of lime for garnish
  • Ice cubes

How to go about it:

  1. In a cocktail shaker, add the gin, lime juice, simple syrup, salt, slit green chilli and 2 ice cubes. Shake well for 5-6 seconds. In case you don’t have a cocktail shaker at hand, you can use something else like a bottle with a tight lid to do this. The shaking bit is important as, that is how the ‘Kulukki Sarbath’ derives its names. ‘Kulukki’ in Malayalam means ‘shaken.’
  2. After shaking the mix for 5-6 seconds, carefully strain the contents into a glass with more ice cubes. Add 1-2 teaspoons of soaked and now puffed basil seeds. Top up with tonic and give it all a light stir.
  3. Garnish with a slice of lime and a green chilli if you like.
  4. Enjoy the easy and super fresh cocktail you just made at home. Go back and make more.


Simple Syrup and how to prepare it at home. The first time I saw this term in a recipe, I chose not to go ahead with it because I knew I didn’t have it at hand. Moreover, I thought it was some complicated thing I had to buy from a store. Well, it’s not!!

Add equal parts of white sugar and water (eg. ½ cup sugar and ½ cup water) in a saucepan heat it all until the sugar melts and you get a nice syrup as a result. Voila! That’s simple syrup for you. You can even make a slightly bigger batch and store it in a bottle in the fridge. Perfect for the drink maker in you! 🙂