Enjoying Cocktails with a Twist at Rasoi

Imbibe a bit of India in Pawtucket

East Side Monthly Magazine ·

Having worked as a waiter and bartender since 18, Jordan Tucci was approached to work at Rasoi while working at a pizza joint on Federal Hill. Three years later and on his way to earning a graduate degree from Providence College, he's created a drink menu that complements the restaurant's Indian cuisine.

What does Rasoi mean?
Rasoi means “kitchen” in Hindi.

What is this colorful Indian oasis?
Rasoi is an eclectic, upbeat and comfortable Indian restaurant. We don't rush you here; we want you to experience the ambience and our cocktails. We offer a good balance of fusion and a little bit of our own spin on things without straying too far from fundamental Indian cooking.

How does the bar complement the kitchen?
We try to match our food with our beverages. The same effort that goes into creating our dishes goes into creating our cocktails. According to Indian culture, what goes in the mouth reflects the person you will become. So, Rasoi offers a certain quality of cocktails that lacks in a lot of bars. We pay close attention to the ingredients concentrating on fresh, homemade ingredients and fruit purees. I boil my own simple syrup and make my own sour mix from scratch.

What's Rasoi's signature drink?
The Bollywood. It's a strawberry pomegranate martini made with vodka, fresh strawberry puree, fresh squeezed lime juice, Pama liquor, topped off with a mixture of fresh pomegranate and lychee juices. It's very floral and tropical.

What's your signature cocktail?
I don't name my drinks. I go by what tastes good. I like to create cocktails that are dictated by the produce of the season. I'm a big fan of fresh purees and adding spices to drinks – unconventional, I know. I believe in matching the drink to what you're eating. For the fall, I'll make a Roasted Pumpkin Martini: I'd roast a pumpkin in the oven to give it a dramatic signature taste and then create a puree from that. Add vodka or dark rum. Then, cinnamon or carda-mom seed for flavor and aesthetics.

Which cocktail is true to the Indian culture?
A virgin cocktail is the best translated. Try a Mango Lassi – it's similar to a smoothie made with fresh yogurt and sweet, toasted cardamom powder. Enjoy it with a meal or after as a dessert. Or try the Nimbu Pani – house-made sugar syrup, fresh lemon juice, club soda and black salt. It's lemonade in the unconventional sense. High sulfur mineral salts like these are good at keeping your body temperature regulated. It's very refreshing and doesn't leave you thirsty.

Which cocktail is universal in the sense it will pair well with any of Rasoi's dishes?
Our Cucumber & Basil Martini. Basil isn't something we use in our cooking; it's an ingredient in one dish here. The martini is made with equal parts vodka or gin, with a cucumber infusion, fresh muddled cucumber, fresh muddled basil, a dash of our house-made sour mix, Cointreau, Grand Marnier and club soda. Shake it and strain it. It's a clean, refreshing drink for a sophisticated palate. It won't overpower mild dishes and pairs well with bolder flavors.

What do you enjoy most about bartending here?
It's small and more intimate. Unlike high-volume clubs, we focus on quality over quantity and creating relationship with our guests. At a club, they're just looking to get hammered and dance. Here, I can connect with my guests and create cocktails just for them. I've made regu-lars out of someone just waiting for their takeout order.

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