Spiced-Up Spirits: Introducing the Exotic Cocktails at Sarma

Oleana’s spice collection gets put to boozy use at Sarma.


The Hippodromecocktail at Sarma. (Photograph by Paul Saraceno. styling by Rowena Day/Ennis)

When Island Creek Oyster Bar alum Vikram Hegde came aboard as bar manager at the new Somerville meze bar Sarma, he was given free rein over a creative barman’s gold mine: the expansive spice selection at Sarma’s big sister, Oleana, which has never served the hard stuff because its license is for only beer and wine.

Hegde’s experimentation has paid off: Combining Oleana’s spice collection with Sarma’s full liquor license has yielded cocktails enhanced with exotic components like mellow-hot Aleppo pepper flakes, citrusy sumac, and rich, tart pomegranate molasses. “It’s opened my eyes to a lot of flavor profiles,” he says.

One particularly exciting and challenging ingredient Hegde encountered in the development process was mastic, the resin from a Mediterranean shrub, which is widely used in Turkish and Greek desserts and libations. “It tastes like anise seed, celery, white pepper, and a little bit of raw carrot,” Hegde says of the complex yet subtly sweet substance. You’ll find it in the Hippodrome, a take on the mint julep that blends mastic syrup with rhum agricole, lime juice, and sage.