If a cocktail isn’t the first thing that springs to mind when you think Indian cuisine in Houston, you might be forgiven. Few local spots have good bar scenes. But the combination is actually a classic born of the subcontinent’s strong British influence. “Scotch, gin—that is just another spectrum of Indian cuisine,” says Dr. Jack Sharma, wine and cocktail advisor for Kiran’s.

Sitting across the table from him is Kiran Verma herself, the restaurant’s chef and owner, who nods in agreement, adding: “When you go to San Francisco or Washington, DC, all these Indian restaurants have these hip bars.” Why is why, at her restaurant, Verma partnered with Sharma—a neurologist by day who’s cultivated Kiran’s award-winning wine list for years—and veteran bartender Greg Alston to create a hip cocktail program of her own. The resulting lineup of both classics and seasonal creations has been keeping the River Oaks bar quite busy. “When people come before dinner, they always order a cocktail,” says Verma, something that’s not true of most other Indian places in town. 

This season, one of Kiran’s most popular creations is the Pumpkin Martini. While it may sound gimmicky and sickly-sweet, this surprisingly light drink is anything but. Made with velvety pumpkin butter and just a touch of warm autumn spices, this nimble, nifty cocktail is what we’re craving this fall—a Starbucks Pumpkin Spice latte for adults. 

Kiran’s Pumpkin Martini

  • 1 t. pumpkin butter
  • ½ t. cinnamon-infused simple syrup
  • Splash of apple juice
  • Splash of orange juice
  • 3 oz. Stoli Vanilla vodka
  • Freshly grated nutmeg

Add all the ingredients to a shaker with ice. Shake briskly and strain into chilled martini glass. Garnish with nutmeg.

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