The Cocktail Architect Shakes up Mixology in the Hudson Valley

Adobe Stock / Fesenko

Ready to shake up your at-home cocktail bar? Look to The Cocktail Architect, a duo bringing international flavors to beverages in the Hudson Valley with kits and classes.

An enterprising Hudson Valley couple has shaken—not stirred—things up with an exciting business venture. The husband-and-wife team of Nandini and Yusef Austin forms The Cocktail Architect, a brand that showcases ingenious concoctions using the most alluring herbs and spices that Mother Nature has to offer. 

The dynamic duo has traveled the world over, “edutaining” an impressive array of top-tier clientele including Netflix, Google, Spotify, M.A.C., and Estée Lauder. Their humble beginnings, however, can be traced back to Brooklyn, where the entrepreneurial spirit of New York City and a background in hospitality inspired them to craft chic drinks. 

Yusef, also known as the “Rockstar Mixologist,” was a source of some of the city’s most elaborate drinks and entertainment, the latter likely influenced by his studies in the dramatic arts. His endeavor expanded into one of the most iconic nightclubs in New York City, The Boom Boom Room, located within The Standard Hotel on West 13th Street and Washington Ave. 

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Seeing the potential in her partner’s talents, Nandini employed her hospitality and business prowess, and so began the couple’s brand. They both kept their day jobs for a while, building a sturdy foundation as their project gained momentum. The couple had an inclination towards the cutting-edge, setting the tone for their work together for years to come.

Beverages and Beginnings

Nandini hails from Mauritius, a small island right off the coast of East Africa, which has seen a succession of settlers since its exploration in the 1500s. The colonies in question consisted of the Dutch, then the French, and finally the British.

With the import of Indian labor by the British Monarchy came the introduction of exotic spices and herbs such as saffron, cardamom, and chili, all of which can be found in The Cocktail Architect’s recipes. A sip of their lavender and saffron cocktail blend, for example, displays the range of flavor achieved by centering these spices in their beverages.

The couple developed a zeal for traveling, trekking the globe in search of new additions to their cocktails. Soon enough, they infused that feeling of wanderlust into their public events, giving them the same funky twist that they apply to their beverages. One of their most memorable events was a nod to Nandini’s motherland, providing guests with a “boarding pass” to Mauritius. In this interactive experience, passengers were able to immerse themselves in the island’s rich and eclectic culture through food, drinks, and storytelling. 

A Change of Pace

When the COVID-19 pandemic slowed the pace of the food and entertainment industries, the Austins were determined to keep The Cocktail Architect afloat. Yearning for human interaction was at an all-time high, and The Cocktail Architect channeled the couple’s passion for mixology and entertainment into the virtual realm by offering online classes. Participants learned about a range of spirits and their respective histories, then were quizzed on their newly obtained knowledge.

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With the popularity of virtual classes came the subsequent demand for a mixology kit for those who are eager to experiment at home. The kit includes essential tools like a bar spoon, a jigger, and Boston shaker. Dried garnishes and artisan syrups (also known as “enhancers”) are included in the kit as well.

What’s Next?

Expecting their first child, Nandini and Yusef aim to broaden their horizons—and their customer base—by tapping into the non-alcoholic “mocktail” market. Additionally, the couple plans to incorporate a health and wellness flare into mixology with CBD tinctures and herbs with medicinal properties. This move stems from the lifestyle practice of “Ayurveda,” or ”signs of life,” a system of natural holistic medicine that originated in India and has been practiced for over 5,000 years. 

Yusef plans to step back temporarily from the front end of the business to perfect The Cocktail Architect’s new line of kid-friendly syrups in their “lab,” ensuring that they capture the essence of Mauritius. The duo will also flex their green thumbs, tending to their 3.3-acre farm property in the Hudson Valley, on which they will grow herbs and veggies to garnish their next batch of cocktails. 

It’s safe to assume that this is only the beginning for Yusef and Nandini, as they pursue growth in the worlds of spirits and wellness with a focus on innovation and improvisation. As the business continues to expand, Nandini encourages all to “keep their minds, mouths, and their palettes open.” When they’re ready to hit the road again and tour, expect them to see them at a local venue near you in the Hudson Valley and beyond.

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Related: 9 Hudson Valley Hotspots to Grab a Drink and Have a Blast

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