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Grand prix / Cocktail recipes

Indika Silva

| By François Monti

Silva is one of the reasons Cologne has become, as the connoisseurs will tell you, a mixology hotspot...

On the day of the 2014 Havana Club Grand Prix final, well before the results were announced, I asked Indika Silva, one of the two German competitors, to answer a few questions. However, he asked the first one: he wanted to know if we had tried his fantastic drink. It turned out Indika was really worried as he felt his cocktail was too sweet. Not sweet enough to turn off the jury, apparently: he ended up second…


Overall, I had to mix two drinks, the first one was nice but I wasn’t happy with the second. I didn’t think I would end up in the top three and yet I made it. It’s great to be part of the team, he told us later the same day. The first day drink, the one Indika was so proud of, is the Machetero’s Punch, with Havana Club Añejo 7 años, lime juice, Angostura bitters and Cuban Switchel, a mix of wine vinegar, ginger, honey and water. The one that led him to second place was called Doña Isabel. It’s a delightful riff on the Daiquiri n°3, without maraschino but with what Indika called a Cuban cordial, a mix of Port, honey, ginger and water.


Originally from Sri Lanka, Indika Silva lives and works in Cologne. The cocktail culture is so vibrant in Germany that you know you always have to take their bartenders seriously. And Cologne, although lesser known than Berlin, has become, as the connoisseurs will tell you, a mixology hotspot, with great bars such as Shepheard, Al Salam, Seibert’s or Spirits, where Indika worked for two years. “I did an hotel apprenticeship, I had to work in all departments – bar, restaurant, front office, housecleaning… I really liked my time at the bar, so I decided to start bartending. First, I worked for a hotel before moving to Spirits, where I stayed for two years. Now, I’m at Nada”.


Nada is a bar-restaurant, away from the city centre, renowned for its food and cocktail pairings. “It’s a really nice place. A lot of clients are coming just to experience the pairing, having cocktail instead of wine. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for many years. And if it’s not cheap to come and have dinner at Nada, it’s not that expensive either.”


When we asked him what his favourite pairing was, Indika just said we should come, order and then he would tell us what was best. However, there’s a certain profile he likes: “I prefer drinks that are light, citrus-forward and aromatic. I’m from Sri Lanka, and I just try to combine ingredients from my home country, spices like cardamom, chilli, things like that and that work with the food we cook at our restaurant”.


Of course, the flavour profile he gave us reminded us of the Daiquiri. Not a surprise, really, as Indika’s quick to point out: “The reason I’m here in Cuba is the Daiquiri. Honestly. The first time I tasted it, I found it fascinating. It’s such a simple cocktail for such a great result. Most of the cocktails on my menu are based on the Daiquiri”. A visit from the Bar News team is on the cards…



Doña Isabel


50 ml Havana Club Añejo 3 años

25 ml Cuban cordial*

15 ml pink grapefruit

15 ml fresh lime juice

1 dash of Angostura bitters

Add all ingredients in shaker. Shake with ice and strain in cocktail glass.




*Cuban Cordial

100 ml Dry sherry

100 ml honey

50 g ginger

50 ml water




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