Thandai martini

Thandai is a spiced milk with almonds, pistachios, cashews, saffron, cardamom, rose, fennel, anise, and black pepper. It’s a popular drink at spring celebrations like Holi, the festival of colors. I first tried thandai a few years ago at a cousin’s wedding in India. I was immediately obsessed.

Now, I like to keep a packet of thandai powder in my fridge so I can mix it into protein shakes or coffee. Thandai powder typically has dairy, so for this cocktail, I decided to make my own mix so I could keep this cocktail vegan friendly.

You start by infusing some vodka with saffron, rose petals, and cardamom. Next, you make your thandai powder by crushing pistachios, saffron, cardamom, rose petals, black pepper, and fennel in a mortar and pestle. Finally, you mix your cocktail by shaking some vodka, Bailey’s almande, and thandai powder together in a cocktail shaker with some ice.

This would be an amazing after dinner cocktail for an Indian dinner party. The flavors are popular in a lot of Indian desserts like rasmalai, gulab jamun, or kulfi.

Ingredients – Saffron vodka

  • 1 cup vodka
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron
  • 1/2 teaspoon rose petals
  • 3 cardamom pods, split

Ingredients – Thandai powder

  • 1 teaspoon rose petals
  • Seeds from 4 cardamom pods
  • 3 tablespoons pistachios
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron
  • 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds

Ingredients – Thandai martini

  • 3 ounces Bailey’s almande almond milk liqueur
  • 1 ounce thandai vodka
  • 1 tablespoon thandai powder
  • 1 cup ice


  1. A few hours before you want to make your martini, make your thandai vodka. Place 1 cup vodka, 1/2 teaspoon saffron, 1/2 teaspoon rose petals, and 3 split cardamom pods in a glass jar or other sealable container. Shake jar, then set aside and let the ingredients work their magic.
  2. Next, make your thandai powder. Using a mortar and pestle, pound 3 tablespoons pistachios, seeds from 4 cardamom pods, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds until a powder is formed. Add 1 teaspoon rose petals and pound a few more times, until petals are slightly crushed but some small pieces remain.
  3. Make the martini by adding 3 ounces Bailey’s almande, 1 ounce thandai vodka, 1 tablespoon thandai powder, and 1 cup of ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously for 1 minute. Strain and pour into martini glasses. Serve immediately.

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