Specialty Sips: Seema Mirchandani Vaswani @ Coffee Lounge

Specialty Sips: Seema Mirchandani Vaswani @ Coffee Lounge

In search of SXM’s hottest drink

Fellow drink-lovers, unite! Time to quench your thirst in another segment of an island-wide hunt for St. Maarten’s best drink!

The Friendly Island is sometimes also referred to as the “Little Miami of the Caribbean”, so it is high time to put those names to the test to discover where we can get both a friendly chat and a good drink. So, we took the crucial task upon ourselves to go out and about and sample the island’s specialty sips and then to report our findings back to all you thirsty people.

The best part? While we’re at it, we might as well ask the island’s talented bartenders, baristas, and smoothie specialists for their secret recipes so that you at home can try your hand at these special sips!

This week, our search for the island’s hottest drinks took us to the Coffee Lounge in Philipsburg. Here, owner Seema Mirchandani Vaswani combines her passion for food, drinks, people and music.

Coffee Lounge has been voted as the #1 place to get a cup of coffee on St. Maarten/St. Martin for several years in a row, so we by no means doubted Seema’s talent for drinks. Coffee Lounge is the only place on the island where you can get specialty coffees, but did you know that Coffee Lounge also serves amazing cocktails and mocktails – both with and without coffee?

We met with Seema and her friendly staff to discuss all things Coffee Lounge: Seema’s lunch-, cocktail- and tapas-lounge, which will be opening soon, and her passion for food and drink – the plan being to, of course, try some delicious drinks and report back to you!

It’s 10:00 am on Tuesday and locals and tourists alike are enjoying Coffee Lounge’s calming and cosy atmosphere. Two regulars come in for their favourite breakfast – they explain that they come in especially for Seema’s Irish coffee whenever on the island. Other patrons are chatting away with iced lattes; some are working remotely – all to the tunes of soothing jazz music playing in the background.

Seema glows with pride and excitement as she tells us about her lounge which will be opening soon on the Boardwalk. Here, she plans to dazzle guests with amazing breakfast, lunch and dinner options, breath-taking sunset views, and live music, all while bringing much-needed new life to Philipsburg. But in the meantime, we can still eat and drink our hearts out at the Simpson Bay or town Coffee Lounge location.

Try out their famous frappuccinos, one-of-a-kind matcha lattes, healthy and delicious avocado food menu, and excellent paninis. Or, of course, you can ask for one of their special off-the-menu cocktails like the Matcha Mojito or Berry Punch mentioned below – tell Seema the Out N About sent you.

Seema’s secret to a great drink? Love and positive energy: “You have to have absolute passion to make a good drink,” she explains. According to her, drinks are all about balance. “Never overload your drink with one ingredient,” she said. That often means trying to get equal parts of everything for the best flavour combinations.

Of course, we had to put Seema’s passion to the test. She knows how much we love matcha – not just for its taste, but also for its amazing health benefits. So, on the spot, she came up with two matcha cocktails for us to try: a Matcha Mojito and a Rosemary Matcha Punch. The best part? Both can be adapted to suit different preferences.

The verdict? Seema clearly has great taste when it comes to drink combinations. We hate to admit it, but we were a bit hesitant at first as we had never had a matcha cocktail before. But boy were we pleasantly surprised. The Matcha Mojito was perfect – fresh, fruity, but not overly sweet – all in one gloriously green cocktail. The Berry Rosemary Matcha punch reminded us of a Ti Punch – it was sweet, fruity, and strong, yet easy to drink. Try it and be amazed!

Matcha Mojito

Ice

Sliced fresh mango – Seema prefers to use natural sweeteners, but you can use cane sugar instead.

Two teaspoons of matcha powder – Seema uses her homemade secret matcha blend, which is less bitter and can be bought at Coffee Lounge.

Splash of mint syrup

Some mint leaves

Tonic water – Seema used a cranberry and ginger flavoured tonic, which can be found at Divico, but feel free to use which ever flavour you please!

1 shot of aged rum - optional

Dilute matcha powder into a bit of warm water. Then combine ice, matcha mix, mango, mint syrup, mint leaves, and a shot of rum into shaker and shake vigorously. “The longer you shake it, the more the tastes incorporate into the drink,” Seema said. Add a few ice cubes in a glass, pour matcha mixture in, top off with some tonic water and garnish with mint, lemon and mango. For a virgin version, just omit the rum. CHEERS!

Rosemary Berry Matcha Punch

Ice

Some sprigs of rosemary

Two teaspoons of matcha powder

1 shot of rum – although vodka would taste good too, Seema said.

Splash of homemade berry syrup – boil berries in sugar syrup and strain.

Dilute matcha powder into a bit of warm water.

Combine matcha, ice, rum, rosemary, berry sauce and stir.

Just swirl the glass with every sip and ENJOY!

The Daily Herald

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