Christmas events

If you did not know, Cocktail Nirvana is supposed to be a speciality bartending service in Bangalore. More about it here. Serveral months after a short stint at Indiranagar`s famous jazz club - Take 5, I am performing at two events this Christmas Season.

Tonite on the Christmas Eve, I will be teaching guests for dinner buffet at
Silsila-@-Silicrest Koramangala, how to mix cocktails. And tomorrow for a Christmas Buffet , I will be manning the bar of Casa-Del-Sol in Residency road, teaching their guests the art of mixology.

Cocktail Nirvana would have its very own bar counter at the restaurants. Like a seasoned Chef De Bar, I will be carrying my own bar equipment too. Two drinks that I have selected to teach people at this event are Mojito & Daiquiri. Both of them are Cuban cocktails. While I will be doing the heavier version of Mojito with brown sugar and dark rum topping, I will be doing a Kiwi or Strawberry Daiquiri.

Though its Christmas time, I will be teaching these summary drinks as they go well with almost any cuisine. Lets see how the gigs go!!!

Cheers

Shaken!!!

Yeah, I am shaken today. Finally the economic crisis is hitting the company I work for, as well. Who could be spared!! The official email in my inbox today has hit me with the reality finally that we are living in bad times. Somehow I was avoiding it all these days in the hope that my company will sail through. But doesn`t look so cool!!

My company has chosen euphemistic words to announce the sad state that we might have to endure in 2009. Wage freeze - Meaning no merit increases next year, Voluntary separation - meaning VRS schemes, reduction in total payout - meaning no bonus in 2009, reduction in International Service Employees - meaning forget any international travel or exposure in 2009.

Apparently they have layed off 400 production staff in a factory in the US. I will not blame the company for doing this. They are doing the best they can to save the company.

On another side I hear so many people making plans to celebrate Christmas and New Year`s eve. Catholic Club which hosts the biggest xmas bash in banglore seems to be going strong with its party plans. I myself have agreed to be a special guest bartender in a couple of places for the Christmas eve and for a brunch on Christmas day. Though not very hopeful of a great response at restaurants in these trying times, I am going to be teaching the art of mixing drinks to the guests at the two restaurants. Let`s see how it goes.

Christmas Eve Dinner - Silsila Crest , Koramangala
Chirstmas day Brunch - Casa del Sol. Richmond Road.

Cheers

I know when I am drunk

A man walks into a bar and orders one shot. Then he looks into his shirt pocket and orders another shot. After he finishes, he looks into his shirt pocket again and orders another shot. The bartender is curious and askes him "every time you order a shot, you look in your shirt pocket. Why?" The man replies, "I have a picture of my wife in my pocket and when she starts to look good, I go home."

People 7

805 Julu Road,
near Fumin Road
Shanghai
Telephone:00 86 5404 0707

Earlier in March this year on my trip to China, I walked into the coolest bar, I had ever been to. People 7 is part of a chain with a restaurant by name People 6 in Shanghai already and another bar called People`s 8 opening shortly in Beijing. This bar is slightly hidden, though its on the main road. I saw no signboard outside the bar. Only a laser sign on the street right outside its entrance. The very mysterious & dark entrance way is totally to dig at. You will never know where the entrance is, if you are not going with a local. Once you are through that, you are welcomed into a very high gloss, ultra hep expat bar of Shanghai.

One of the hippiest night joints, People 7 `s ambiance and design has loads to write home about. Raw concrete walls and dim lit candles on all tables put you in a mood. The seating is mixed, a few tall tables, few couches, some lounge tables. Warm and cosy design of the den is very relaxing.People seemed to be nice and wore a smile. The bar is unimaginably long and straight. Display of drinks like I never saw before, the green lighting at the bar is a total puller.

Crowded by expats and locals alike . Absolute stunner of a place for either a date or a night cap. Air conditioning was bit too deep. My host Brett and his girl friend Mary took me there after a feast at one of the local restaurants. I took their help in ordering as the menu was in Chinese. We ordered Long Islands for Bret and me and a rum and Curacao based cocktail for Mary. I wished I had noted the name. Slightly expensive place. Did not try the kitchen, though Brett says they have very good lunch special.

The bar played lounge music, did not seem to have any dance floor. One long island was really enuf for me & I hit the loo before leaving. The funkily designed loo might make you feel dizzy even without the alcohol dose. The knob of the door was placed on the side the door is hinged to the wall. I tried desperately to pull or push the door only to realise someone coming out from the other side. Goofy, eh!

People 7 was an appropriate ending to my trip to China, for I took the first flight back home next morning. Thanks to Brett and Mary for taking me there.

Imperial Brut for a B`day

It was my BIL`s wife`s bday yesterday & it was celebrated in style. We opened a bottle of Champagne. & not just another champagne. Moet & Chandon. This was one of the seven bottles of alcohol that Doctor successfully smuggled into Indian seas from her last trip to Europe. Her friend in UK was apparently presented with this one for an achievement at work. But as she doesn`t indulge in the holy habit of drinking water of life, she passed it over to Doctor.

So the bday was a perfect occasion to uncork the beautiful champagne. Moet & Chandon is a french winery & co-owner of the luxury brand - Louis Vitton. It is one of the world`s largest producers of champagne & also a champagne house. I was curious about a small note on the bottle about it being a supplier to the queen Elizabeth II. Wiki clarifies that M&C holds a royal warrant to supply champagne to Queen Elizabeth II.

I quickly set out to look for some strawberries. Did you know, strawberries & Champagne make a great combination?? If you saw Pretty Woman, you would remember Richard Gere explaining to Julia Roberts that the strawberries bring out the taste of champagne better. But alas, I could not find any in the neighbourhood nilgiris or more or reliance fresh or the food world. What a shame!

Doctor wanted the bday girl to shake uncork the champagne, but I advised against allowing the nectar to be wasted in froth. I am more than willing to shake uncork a local champagne but not this one. M&C produces 4 kinds of champagnes - Imperial Brut, Rose Imperial, Nectar Imperial & Grand Vintage. Impreial Brut is their flagship product. We quietly pop opened the Brut & ummmmah, the vinous aroma started flowing around. It apparently has pears, apples & citrus overtones. No wonder, the aroma. Its infused with butter, gingerbread & lots of vanilla. Is your mouth watering??

A bottle of 750 ml of Brut generally costs around 50 US$ , but if you try to buy it in India it will cost Rs3,400. Thx to duties. Imperial Brut is a blend of three wines Chardonay,Pinot Noir & Pinot Meunier & has about 12% alcohol in every 100 ml. I dont know how old it was in the bottle, but apparently its good if experienced after one year in the bottle. Nevertheless, our share tasted extremely heavanous leaving behind a sense of harmony and mellowness with peach and nectar lingering.

We did not malign the drink with any snacks but just savoured every sip of it. After about two rounds for every one & little more than that for the greedy myself, I was feeling mildly pleasant. I call this state " feeling good" & a close friend of doctor`s calls it "pleasantly tipsy". haha!!

We all moved over to enjoy the dinner!!

Mixology Methods

Creating cocktails can be straight forward or artistic; depending on the person, their tastes, and how far they want to take it. Often, the first lesson of bartending school teaches basic skills - from shaking, to pouring over a spoon. Most people can quite easily get by with these techniques, especially when tending home bars.


Shaking : When a drink contains eggs, fruit juices or cream, it is necessary to shake the ingredients. Shaking is the method by which you use a cocktail shaker to mix ingredients together and chill them simultaneously. The object is to almost freeze the drink whilst breaking down and combining the ingredients. Normally this is done with ice cubes three-quarters of the way full. When you've poured in the ingredients, hold the shaker in both hands, with one hand on top and one supporting the base, and give a short, sharp, snappy shake. It's important not to rock your cocktail to sleep. When water has begun to condense on the surface of the shaker, the cocktail should be sufficiently chilled and ready to be strained.

Straining: Most cocktail shakers are sold with a build-in strainer or hawthorn strainer. When a drink calls for straining, ensure you've used ice cubes, as crushed ice tends to clog the strainer of a standard shaker. If indeed a drink is required shaken with crushed ice (ie.
Shirley Temple), it is to be served unstrained.

Stirring: You can stir cocktails effectively with a metal or glass rod in a mixing glass. If ice is to be used, use ice cubes to prevent dilution, and strain the contents into a glass when the surface of the mixing glass begins to collect condensation.

Muddling: To extract the most flavor from certain fresh ingredients such as fruit or mint garnishes, you should crush the ingredient with the muddler on the back end of your bar spoon, or with a pestle.

Blending: An electric blender is needed for recipes containing fruit or other ingredients which do not break down by shaking. Blending is an appropriate way of combining these ingredients with others, creating a smooth ready to serve mixture. Some recipes will call for ice to be placed in the blender, in which case you would use a suitable amount of crushed ice.

Building: When building a cocktail, the ingredients are poured into the glass in which the cocktail will be served. Usually, the ingredients are floated on top of each other, but occasionally, a swizzle stick is put in the glass, allowing the ingredients to be mixed.

Layering: To layer or float an ingredient (ie. cream, liqueurs) on top of another, use the rounded or back part of a spoon and rest it against the inside of a glass. Slowly pour down the spoon and into the glass. The ingredient should run down the inside of the glass and remain seperated from the ingredient below it. Learning the approximate weight of certain liqueurs and such will allow you to complete this technique more successfully, as lighter ingredients can then be layered on top of heavier ones.

Flaming: Flaming is the method by which a cocktail or liquor is set alight, normally to enhance the flavor of a drink. It should only be attempted with caution, and for the above reason only, not to simply look cool.

Some liquors will ignite quite easily if their proof is high. Heating a small amount of the liquor in a spoon will cause the alcohol to collect at the top, which can then be easily lit. You can then pour this over the prepared ingredients. Don't add alcohol to ignited drinks, don't leave them unattended, light them where they pose no danger to anybody else, and ensure no objects can possibly come into contact with any flames from the drink. Always extinguish a flaming drink before consuming it.

Courtesy: Drinks mixer

Twisted Daiquiri & Choclate Vodka

My wife called over couple of her Friends for a lazy lunch on Saturday. She got herself busy cooking some Mughali chicken dishes & tapped me to think of some nice afternoon cocktails for the ladies. I checked my booze stock & found half a bottle of Romonov & about 100 ounces of Blue Riband gin.


For a nice sunny afternoon, nothing is better than Cuban cocktails. & Cuban cocktails mainly use Rum. We all know of Mojitos. But a lesser ordered cocktail in India with the Rum base is Daiquiri. Daiquiri is widely known outside India, but I have not seen too many people in Indian bars ordering it. I guess, they don't know much about it. I wanted to make Daiquiri`s but without Rum in my stock, i thought, I will twist the cocktail`s base to Vodka & keep the rest as it is. Thas why "Twisted Daiquiri".


One of the nice things I observe about white spirits (Tequila blanco, white rum, vodka, gin etc) is that you can almost use them interchangeably in many cocktail recipies. Of course the taste gets a bit different, but, they don`t become undrinkable. Anyways, Twisted Daiquiri is made thus:


Its built in a cocktail tin. Squeeze about one full lime without its seeds into the tin. Then add some ice-cubes. Pour about one ounce of sugar syrup.(Sugar syrup is home made, easy to make, just boil equal parts of sugar & water.Allow it to cool for a about 30 minutes & ready to use.) Over the ice-cubes pour 1 1/2 ounce of choicest vodka or rum. Since I wanted the drink to look & taste fancy, I added about 1 ounce of Manama KIWI crush into the tin. Close the tin shake it vigorously till the shaker starts freezing. The moment you see the frost all over the tin, your
drink is very well shaken. The shaking roughens up the strength of vodka & makes it milder. Also, shaking infuses oxygen into the drink & creates the bubbles. Its these bubbles that give you the aroma to the drink. At this point, strain the drink into a martini glass & garnish it with the peel of orange or a slice of lime. & Twisted Daiquiri is ready.

When the guest are ladies, I make sure, I keep another drink apart for a limey one. & that has to be a chocolate base. Even if the drink falls apart, ladies will drink every sip of it adoring your skills, only because, what chocolate can do, no man can. :) This is how I made a Chocolate,Coffee martini.


Chill a martini glass before making the drink. You can do so by keeping it in the freezer for about a minute of two or just fill it with ice cubes to throw them later when you are ready to pour your drink into the glass. Take ice in a cocktail shaker, add about 1 ounce of vodka, 1 ounce of Kahlua, (If you don't have the coffee liqueur, you can use some cold dark black coffee). Add about 1 ounce of Hershey`s chocolate syrup.Shake them together till the tin is frozen. Empty the contents into a martini glass & top it with some coke. Garnish it with a Kit Kat bar or a a cadbury toffee. You cant fail!!


I made two other regular drinks for their third & forth rounds - Margarita & Mojito. I got the ladies mildly high on the cocktails as I enjoyed the Mughlai chicken & Dave bruebeck on his saxophone.

Bus to Hell

A drunken man gets on the bus late one night, staggers up the aisle, and sits next to an elderly woman.She looks the man up and down and says, "I've got news for you. You're going straight to hell!"

The man jumps up out of his seat and shouts, "Man, I'm on the wrong bus!"

Ice Ice baby

I know quite a few of my friends who think that when a cocktail is served with a glass full of ice at the bar, he is being cheated. The myth is that the drink has only ice and very little alcohol. People seldom realise that ice is as important to a cocktail as any other ingredient. And popping the glass full of ice is by no means a way of duping you. There is a good reason for doing so. Lets explore.

Although its effects may be subtle, ice is an integral part of a properly made cocktail, and shouldn't be ignored.The most obvious consideration is flavor.Ice not only chills drinks , but as it melts it becomes a part of the mix and because of this, the frozen water deserves more than a little attention.

If you add just a cube or two of ice, eventually its melts into water and becomes part of your drink.Nothing wrong. But what happens to the temperature of the drink? When you sipped first , the drink is nice and cold, because of the ice cube. But as it melts down, the drink also comes to room temperature gradually. This gives varying flavours to your drink from the beginning to the end. Thus it is important, to keep the flavour and temperature of the drink consistent from start to finish, to use more ice than just a a couple of cubes.

If you are planning to nurse your drink a little longer than regular, I would suggest you go for larger, thicker surface cubes as they melt slowly and causes less dilution. It is customary to fill a glass 2/3 full for best results. However, you might not be able to get those big cubes for home use. Its OK to use the traditional tray ice at home, only remember to keep changing or rotating the ice cubes for fresh is best. Avoid storing ice near to fish or meat as ice has a tendency to absorb odours around it. This might give a fishy taste to your drink.

So next time you are at a bar, don't give that snare to your bar-tender for dropping in too much ice.

Ginger Banger

Next of the Easy Poison series. Let`s learn this easy to make cocktail called "Ginger Banger". I tasted this one about 5 years back in a bar in Hyderabad called "Bottles and Chinmeys". I do not know the origin of this drink. Neither am I sure if this was invented by that bar. Nevertless, it has got that amazingly refreshing taste and the best bit about it is that you can make it at home without using any exotic ingredients or any hassle.

The potions
The base if going to be vodka. Choose any vodka you like. I personally prefer Smirn off but whe recession hits, you can do well with Romonov as well. Be careful to select a normal un-flavoured vodka as a flavoured one will change the taste of the original drink and might not be as refreshing as it is intended. What else you need is a can of tonic water, another of gingerale, one whole line and 3-4 mint leaves.

The Art
Build the drink in a collins glass (tall glass). Fill the glass with ice. Pour 60 ml of vodka over ice. Squeeze half lemon. Half-fill the glass with gingerale and then top it with tonic water. Drop a few mint leaves into the glass and garnish it with a lime wheel. By principal all cocktails that are built on ice and served as it is, should go along with a straw. Its not so nice to let the ice cubes touch your teeth when you are imbibing a greatly tasting cocktail.

Bartology

This post is first of the series that will explore around things used, said, done in a bar. I am sure, lot many people still do not understand, rather are confused, with words like straight-up and on the rocks. I have tried to list some basic terms and words and phrases below that are standard throughout the industry. We can look at advanced concepts in future. The ability to understand various words related to the and to the art of drinking will help you order the right way and drink the right way.

Aperitif
An aperitif is an alcoholic drink served before a meal, sometimes as an appetizer, or accompanied with an appetizer. The drink is usually somewhat bitter, sweet or light, and serves as a warm-up or opener to a meal.


Box
Pour into and out of a shaker, usually only once. Gives the drink a quick mixing without shaking.

Call Drink
A liquor and mixer, of which the liquor is a defined brand. (ie. Tanqueray and Tonic, Bacardi and Coke)

Cobbler
A tall drink of any liquor served in a collins or highball glass with shaved or crushed ice and garnished with fresh fruit and mint sprigs.

Cocktail
Any of various alcoholic beverages consisting usually of brandy, whiskey, vodka, or gin combined with fruit juices or other liquors and often served chilled.

Lace
Normally applies to the last ingredient in a recipe, meaning to pour onto the top of the drink.

Fizz
An effervescent beverage. (ie. that which is carbonated or which emits small bubbles.)

Highball
Any spirit served with ice and soda water in a medium to tall glass (often a highball glass).

Neat
The consumption of a spirit as a straight, unaccompanied shot.

Nip
A quarter of a bottle.

Nightcap
A wine or liquor taken before bedtime.

On The Rocks
A wine or liquor poured over ice cubes.

Pick-Me-Up
A drink designed to relieve the effects of overindulgence in alcohol.

Punch
A party-size beverage consisting of fruit, fruit juices, flavorings and sweeteners, soft drinks, and a wine or liquor base.

Shooter
A straight shot of spirit taken neat.


Straight-up
Single, unmixed liquor served chilled (either by shaking or stirring) in a stemmed glass

Twist
Generally a peel (orange or lemon) garnish to a drink.

Virgin
A non-alcoholic drink.

Well Drink
A liquor and mixer, of which neither are defined brands. (ie. Gin and Tonic, Rum and Coke)



CN believes in an experience and not a hang over. Drink responsibly.

Flavors of Entanglement with a coked Godfather

My wife is away for a week on business to the beautiful landscapes of Europe. My buddies are pouring in taking advantage of this time. This evening was just one of them.


Roker dude came over to cook some potatoes for dinner. Helping him as much as I could, I switched the power house & played loud my latest acquisition – Alains Morisette`s new album – “Flavors of Entanglement.” To give company to Alains, I decided it would be right time to taste the much-awaited Amaretto.

First tried it the normal way of coke & ice. The taste was a bit weird. Sweet but still weird. A bit oily flavor actually. The first song on Alanis`s album started – Citizen of Planet. It begins with tabla beats giving an Asian sound & then proceeding to a heavy metal wedding depressing lyrics & Alains`s vocal. Ignoring the song Mr. B seemed to like the sweet taste. Roker dude also preferred it the sweet way.

But having tasted the conventional way, I decided to upgrade my drink to the Italian mafia style – the cocktail called “GODFATHER”. It is built on ice with equal parts of scotch and amaretto & bingo, you could sip it like the mafia. But my variation has coke in it. If you would remember, I have mentioned about this cocktail in my earlier blogs. The scotch gave bitterness to the drink. I could slowly decipher the bittersweet symphony of coked Godfather as “underneath” played & reminded me of the good old Alains of Jagged Little Pill. The next song has electro sound to the whole Alain`s typical croon singing style. Straight Jacket. Though a sad song, it will be a good dance number for a nightclub.

I lit my Marlboro lights & soaked a bit more into Godfather as the 4th song – Versions of Violence started with a heavy electronic metal intro. Instantly it reminded me of Marlyn Mansion in the album "Golden Age of Grotesque". This song gives a different flavour to the sad tone & jilted lover lyrics of Alains. I slowly realize why the album is called flavors of entanglement. The main theme running through the album is Alains Morisette`s depression, thanks to her much publicized break up with her ex fiancĂ© Raymond Ray. That’s the entanglement part. Every song is sad but the music arrangement for each one is different & varies from disco, electro, slow piano ballad (Not as we & Torch) to regular rock (praise of vulnerable man). All of them give a feeling of different “flavor” to her sadness.

I intend to put no Moratorium on my alcohol consumption, but Alain`s song by the name explains her intention to be away from all kinds of relationship & commitment. God, how sad is she? The songs “giggling again “ & tapes have a coldplay flavor to them as per me & the last song – “incomplete” is a typical Alains Morisette style varying in between soft & heavy rhythm guitaring.


To sum up, Alains Morisette has yet again written a bunch of songs on sorrow & I quite like few of its flavors. Looks like the break up has brought out some creativity out of Alains. Apparently she knows only two emotions – Sorrow & Joy. & She can write 6 zillion songs on these two emotions. Rocker dude was correct in that the different musical arrangements & the title to the album could be a production gimmick as not all would want to keep listening to her songs of depression unless there is some variety. Trying to sell more eh! As for me, I am waiting for the day she writes about the second emotion she knows & she says in one of her interviews, that day will come when she is happily married & having 6 kids.

I thanked coked Godfather for staying with me through the album as the potatoes showed up over the dinner table & we all arranged ourselves to devour on them with some soft rock set to hear – The Verve, 4 non blones, Oasis, Dire Straits, Eagles & REM.

Say Cheers!!






Threesome with Tia

Wow! Did you click this entry because it says "Threesome"? I bet you did. Well, let see how far I live up to your expectations. I will tell you about Tia & I will tell you about the Threesome. But before that, you must know why I am writing about it now. More so because this threesome happened about more than a month ago.

Its monsoon time here in Bangalore & has been wetting the hell out of all of us. Its raining this afternoon as well. But not cats and dogs but the English way - drizzling. My favourite lunch time activity now a days is to try & write a blog entry & this rain now reminds me of that rainy afternoon about a month ago when I was pulled into the threesome. Thas why this blog.

So that Friday afternoon just when the weekend mood was settling around my desk area, Sailor Boy (SB) gave me a ring.
"Pleasant surprise", I said.
"My parents are out & Tia is here" , he said."Don`t you think this beautiful rain is the best time to get on top of Tia? We can go together or take turns. :)"
I said ,"Hell yea" & zipped over to his place, two blocks away from my office.

He opened the door & took me straight to the bar cabinet & brought out a swanky dark bottle -TIA. Guys, I am talking about "Tia Maria". Knowing me, it only has to be a fancy alcohol. :). Sorry to disappoint you. Lets talk about Tia Maria here today.

Last time SB was at our place, I showed off my Kahlua bottle & thas when he asked me if I ever tasted Tia Maria. I had not & so he invited me over. First thing I always do is look at the beauty of the bottle. Next I smell the spirit. Unfortunately I wasn`t able to recollect the smell that time but now I know that Tia Maria smelled almost like Kahlua.

Tia Maria is produced by the same company who makes Kahlua. Pernod Ricard. Tia Maria is a coffee liqueur just like Kahlua. It is dark in colour like Kahlua. I can talk about Kahlua some other time if you don`t know it. Lets stick to Tia now. The difference is that Tia is made in Jamaica using Blue Mountain Coffee Beans. Vanilla, sugar, cane spirit & coffee beans are the fermented ingredients in Tia. The alcohol percent here as in most of the liqueurs is 20%.

SB poured me a large measure of Tia over rocks in an old fashioned glass & topped it with coke. Tia touched my lips and ........ummmmmm, I could feel layers of coffee & coke with the light alcoholic tinge so clearly in my mouth. This one is so similar to the taste of other coffee & cola based cocktails like Dark Scotsman (Whiskey, Cold Black Coffee & Coke) & Vodcola (Vodka, Cold Black Coffee & Coke), except that they have more alcohol content. I think Tia can be used in B52 flaming shot also, instead of Kahlua. The rain outside called us to the balcony & we lit up a cigarette to complement the taste of Tia. The combination was perfect.

When a Tia Maria or Kahlua is available, guests don't have to choose between coffee and an after-dinner drink. Kahlua and Tia Maria-type drinks give a mellow buzz of alcohol and caffeine (when imbibed responsibly). I do not know how much a bottle of Tia Maria costs in duty free or outside , but its family member Kahlua costs around Rs. 800 for a one litre bottle in duty free & Rs.2500 for 750ml bottle outside. Incidentally , I got this recipe on the net to make Tia Maria easily at home.

4 cups water , 4 cups sugar , 2 cups Rum, 1 cup dry instant coffee, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract,1 tbsp caramel coloring, if desired. Boil the water and sugar in large pot, until sugar is completely dissolved. Stir.Remove from heat, cool for half an hour. Slowly add in the dry instant coffee, stirring continuously. Add vanilla to the rum, pour into gallon jug.Combine cooled sugar syrup and coffee mixture with the rum in gallon jug. Cover tightly, and shake every day for three weeks. Store in cool, dark place. After three weeks strain the concoction to get your Tia Maria.

SB & I decided to take on another round of Tia. It would be too bad to not turn up at my desk after lunch time, so I decided to be sober & let the taste of Tia linger in my mouth for the rest of the afternoon after that second round. That was the story of my threesome - something my wife wont be unhappy about. :)

Italian Aperitifs from Malyasia

I never loose any opportunity of asking alcoholic favours. . Dont get me wrong, I dont get drunk on others wallets. I am refering to this penchant thing in me to ask any friends travelling out of India to get me exotic liqueurs. This time a father of two young lovly twins & a close friend of Smita & me, BJ, was coming back from Kaulalumpur.
So I got him to buy for me two amazing Italian spirits - Bianco & Amaretto. Allow me to educate you about these a bit.

Bianco

Bianco is the product of the Italian licquor giant - Martini & Ross. It is sold under the Martini Brand. Lets tear it up.
Bianco is part of the Vermouth family, its siblings being Extra dry & Rosso. I have owned & currently using a bottle of an Extra Dry. It is a great martini maker. I was hoping to get one more bottle of the same, but Mr B, got me Bianco. First impressions as soon as I opened this bottle , reminded me of Absynthe. This one is extra light green in colour.Italian white wine is the base for Bianco . The sweetness comes from some refined sugar. It is then blended with aromatic herbs & most nicely - Vanilla which seems to be giving the great flavour.

Bianco is a great party drink outside India since generations. It has a very intense flavour. I am yet to try it but the smell surly suggests smoothness & sweetness. I will keep you guys posted as soon as I try the long or short version of this aperitif very soon. Apparently it can be served on the rocks with some strawberry slices or with tonic water, ice & lime juice as a tall drink. My personal guess is that it will o well with Gingerale or cranberry or apple juice too.
Damn inexpensive like the Extra Dry, in a duty free zone it is not more than INR450 for a litre bottle.

Amaretto

Almonds and apricots are the main flavours in this brandy-based drink from Italy. I am not near my bar counter to go look for the name of the manufactuer of the bottle that I posses now. But Italy is the source.
The bottle is extremly beautiful. The colour of amaretto is medium brown. You can guess that becasue of almonds in it. The bottle that I own has a cork stopper at its neck instead of a screw cap. I guess the cork keeps the suttle & sweet fragrance of the almonds in tact.
Looks like there is a lot of cultural reference to the Italian underworld around Amaretto. There are many cocktails based on this liqueur that have names like Godfather & Mafia`s Kiss. I am yet to open this one too & I plan to make the Godfather out of it.
Here is the recipie:
One part of Scotch & one part of Amaretto poured over an old fashioned glass filled with ice. No shaking, no stirring. Gulp it up.

Amaretto goes well with Gin & Vodka as well. It makes an excellent liqueur for coffee and goes well with desserts. There are quite a few cooking recipies as well that you might find on the net.
A 1 litre bottle of Amaretto from the KLIA duty free cost me around INR.1400.

Vodcofola

The idea of making cocktails at home is very often not even entertained in any corners of our heads. I realise this is mainly because , many think that the ingredients that go into making them are exotic and we do not find them easily in stores in India and even if we do, they are damn expensive. While this is definitely true, let me assure you that there are a myriad varieties of cocktails that you can make without involving these rare and exotic ingredients and liqueurs.

Exotic yet affordable cocktails are not that hard to cook. Finally, with this post, let me introduce you to that kitchen. Simple, flexible and no hassle concoctions that you can brew at home. Ingredients that are easily available in stores in India. I will be posting recipes on a regular basis under the label "Easy Poison" and one of them will always be found under the "Shank`s Liquid Kitchen" at the home page of the blog.

Today, I introduce you to a vodka-base drink that I like to call - Vodcofola. There isn`t a heavy inventive mind behind this drink. It is in fact a vodka version of a whiskey cocktail that my buddy & I used to drink very once in a while in a pub in Hyderabad called "One flight down". A basement bar that we used to frequent on Saturdays for the rock music that it played. The whiskey cocktail was called "Dark Scotsman". The base being any regular whiskey, add black coffee and coke. I served this very drink to a couple of guests in Take-5 when I was there briefly and was liked by them a lot. Vodcofola replaces whiskey with Vodka and makes it perfect for even ladies who generally despise even the smell of whiskey. (I am yet to meet a whiskey drinking girl!!!). Besides when made with Vodka base, the drink tastes bitter-sweet due to the coffee & coke and easily mixed Vodka.

Vodcofola is built in a high ball glass full of ice. Here is the recipe:

45 ml Vodka
60 ml Black coffee
Coke

Build the drink in a highball glass full of ice. Throw a lime wheel,straw,stir and sip.

CN believes in an experience and not a hang-over. Drink Responsibly.

Bar hopping with a Mojito

Bangalore is a city of heavy drinkers and closet alcoholics. After a heavy week of work or studies or lectures or projects, we all like to loosen up a bit. Some of us might have the stamina to endure a whole night of drinking. I ususaly reserve it for special weekends for celebrations. And what I like to do those times is bar-hopping; spending the whole night going from one bar to another drinking with buddies and passing the night away. Fortunately its not dine every night or at every reason to celebrate.

And my bar-hopping is generally restricted to 3 or 4 same happy places everytime. My friendly neighbourhood - TGIF (old airport road), the spacious halls of Hard Rock Cafe (St Marks road), if allowed at that time - into the heights of 13th floor (Church Street) and then to call a night - Tavern (Museum Rd). And the drink I hop around with is always the same - the great Cuban elixir - Mojito!.

I have introduced you to Mojito earlier. This is the most refreshing drink of the world - "as per me". Let me take you through my observations during bar-hopping, of the variety of Mojito preparations that Bangalore bars offer. The classic way is to muddle mint and lime in a high ball glass with sugar. Add Ice and white rum and top with soda water. TGIF and hard rock prepare them almost exactly this way. Except both use sugar syrup instead of sugar. I observed couple of times that the bar-tender at Hard Rock Cafe shakes it before topping with soda water.

Let me explain to you two very innovative ways to making Mojito in couple of other places in Bangalore. First - Take 5, a jazz bar in Indiranagar. Here the good bar-man -Sam muddles mint leaves and lime along with the ice-cubes. He basically crushes the ice along. He adds couple of tea spoons of powdered brown sugar. Empties the cocncoction into a glass and pours some rum and then tops with soda. Different take, but the problem somtimes with this is that you might over muddle the mint and lime , bringing out the bitterness from their peel rather than their oils. One more remark - I frankly dont like the glass in which the Mojito is served there. It just doesn`t fall under any category, looks like a juice glass.

The best Mojito that I ever had is in 13th floor. The drink is built in an old fashioned glass. Mint and lime are muddled with granules of brown sugar unlike sugar syrup or powdered sugar. This muddling brings out the perfect balance of oils and flavours of the ingredients. Crushed ice is added. White rum poured over the ice, soda water topped. This way the drink stays chilled as long as we are at it. The barman`s special comes here. About 5 ml of dark rum is dropped on top of soda, giving a sweet aroma. Now the drink looks, smells and tastes heaven.

Sticking to just one kind of drink when you are hopping bars will avoid mixing of different varieties and keeps the taste in the mouth almost similar and because of its refreshing nature, Mojito does the job just perfectly.

Orders for your first cocktail

Our lives have a lot of firsts: The first time we ever rode a bicycle without training wheels, the first time we ever drove a car, the first this and that and may be the first drink. While we could use training wheels for cycling and a learner's permit to drive the car, the laws on drinking leave no room for education. These laws simply drop us right into the responsibility of alcohol without bothering to take the time to teach us how to actually drink responsibly.

And I took up to this great challenge with great vigor and excitement the day I thought I had become 18 and hence an “adult”. There was no one to help navigate me into the world of alcohol. But it dint seem so difficult either and I started my spiritual journey with a 650 ml “Golden Eagle” beer under the campus water tank with a bum chum, buddy, munching on raw Soya chunks. My first visit to a bar was a couple of years later when I started my training for my accounting degree. And in the last 10 years, I hardly seem to remember, when I graduated from Beer to whiskey, when I moved on with life and accepted rum to be elixir or life, least do I remember my first vodka shot. I wished today that I had chronicled my ordeals with alcohol.

I am right now at a stage in my alcoholic life where cocktails have taken my fancy and I wished that I had always been drinking them. I wished I had ordered a Mojito the first time I visited a bar and not just rum and coke. Alas, no one had told me when I began drinking, about the exotic and delightfully illusionary world of cocktails.

I wish to spread my love for cocktails now. Today, I shall introduce you to this grand world of liquid cuisine and help you choose your first cocktail when you go to the bar next. Let my blog be your training wheels with which you can have extensive experience and then gradually get used to this form of Nirvana.

Here are a few recommendations for trying your first cocktail upon reaching the legal age or knowledge of drinking which ever comes later:

Mojito: Rum based. The most popular “in” cocktail of our times. Originally created in Cuba. Acts as a great thirst quencher. Lime chunks muddled along with mint leaves and sugar and then rum and soda water added.

Cosmopolitan: The famous TV series Sex and the City popularized this one like no one else. The girls in this series are always yakking about their lives in the bars of Manhattan with this drink in their hand. Largely associated as a ladies drink, is vodka based with suttle lime, orange bitters and cranberry flavors. Served in a martini glass, the pink color is a delight to the eyes.

Caprioska: The original version is called Capirinha and is based on Brazilian rum called cachaca. But since that rum is not so widely available, there is an alternative version, which is based on Vodka & rest of the ingredients being the same – lime and sugar. If you observe it’s almost same as Mojito except there are no mint leaves in here.

Margarita: As Mexican as it can get. If you knew that tequila is drank only as shots, here is some surprise. Margarita is the most popular Mexican cocktail. Generally served in a salt rimmed “Margarita “ glass, its is a greatly refreshing drink. Silver Tequila mixed with triple sec (orange liquer) and limejuice. The bartender should not go wrong with this.

Cocktail Nirvana believes in experience and not hangover. Drink responsibly

Someone teach me how to drink

Who gave you "your first alcholic dose" ? Did you know what you were ordering and why? Were you being forced to taste alcohol by a bunch of college bullies or at an office party? Did you know what would happen if you drink gin instead or rum or whisky? Did you want to know how much to consume and when?

You must have admired, and worshiped those amongst us that we know as "adults". They seem to have all of the answers. They are infallible. Some day, we too will be an "adult", and will also be a fountain of wisdom and advice. Reaching 21 is essentially that imaginary cross-over; it is when we suddenly turn into an "adult". We have most likely been driving for several years by now. We are probably living on our own, have a job, and have to shave regularly. We have arrived. We are an adult. Unfortunately, we know almost nothing about alcohol, and drinking beverages that contain it. In this subject, we are mere infants, and like infants we need long and slow training in order to acquire the necessary skills to navigate its shores. But, at the same time, we are adults. All of our past experiences have instilled upon us the need to now present ourselves with the bravado of confidence. To convince ourselves and those around us that we do in fact know it all. I expect that it is from this, that many of our drinking problems spring.

Furthermore, while parents and teachers are greatly involved with educating us about how to safely drive a car, the only drinking education we receive is informally given to us by friends and older siblings. In fact, the only formal education I ever received in school about alcohol was that it was bad. I was never really taught about different types of alcohol and their practical effects on the body until I started drinking myself. And where did this leave me?

It left me several times surrounded by people in parties, wondering if a bottle of Malt Liquor was hard alcohol or not. It left my alcohol education not to parents and teachers, but to certain members of the accounting firm where I was training for my degree, who took me and my peers under their wing and showed us the way. It left me to learn how to binge drink at parties , but not how to drink at dinners and events.

We need a system that allows us to progressively learn from our elders how to responsibly enjoy alcohol. Much like the year that we have a learner's permit, I believe that we need to have a year's worth of alcohol education. This would essentially involve granting young adults who are 18 the right to legally drink, but not the right to legally purchase alcohol and not the right to legally enter bars. During this time, 18-year-olds would be forced to drink with people who are older, and wiser, and would inevitably gain from it.

Instead we have a system in place where young adults learn about alcohol not from their parents and relatives but from their friends and siblings.

The Importance of Cocktails

To begin with, despite everything that your peers might be telling you, the purpose of drinking is not to get drunk. Yes, technically alcohol is a chemical substance that induces drunkenness, and yes, cocktails wouldn't really be cocktails without alcohol. But a properly made cocktail is so much more then just being defined by the amount of alcohol it contains. The cocktail is a form of cuisine, with interesting, exciting, and even enlightening flavor potentials.

The cocktail (and its alcohol), when taken in moderation, also has a socially relaxing effect. It comforts you, and allows you to let your guard down just a little. When you are out with friends, it adds a little bit to the fellowship of the evening. However, if you go too far, and get "ripped", then it just makes a mess of things.

An old adage goes : "Drinking just to get drunk, is like having sex just to get pregnant."

Yes, technically both are the biological intents, but if that's all you are focusing on, then you are missing out on the real enjoyment that can be had when you truly embrace the experience properly. Frankly, when you go out drinking, you should probably get "drunk" about as often as you'd like to get pregnant.

Train

There are many aspects of the cocktail which are so far outside of your existing experiences that the only real way to deal with them is to rely on some form of training.
Gin, tequila, and whiskey can be very difficult for the budding cocktail palate to understand, much less appreciate. Brandy and rum can be a little more approachable, but still distinctly unusual. The best drinks to use as training wheels, will be those that bare a close approximation to the same flavor profiles of the drinks of your youth. Drinks flavored heavily with juices, or which are almost a soda pop, will be the easiest to accept. In fact, you can essentially take anything non-alcoholic that you might like, and simply add a shot (45 ml) of vodka to it, in order to turn it into an "adult" drink. This is essentially all that a Screwdriver is; orange juice, with a shot of vodka.

In my next blog, I will give you some cocktail recommendations to try on your first experiences with alcohol. Let`s learn how to drink.

Cocktail Nirvana believes in an experience and not a hang over. Drink responsibly.

The Beginning

This blog is something I've been thinking for quite a while, and I've finally taken the leap to turn it into reality. It has just taken birth, it still isn't complete but it is far enough along for it to finally see its official unveiling on the www. Not only will the content solidify eventually, but I expect the blog itself will probably go through a few visual and organizational changes as I fine-tune my approach to presenting this information in a reasonable fashion.
This will not be one of those million Cocktail web sites. Instead I want to share with you my experiences as I explore the true art of making cocktails.
The cocktails I present here will all be ones that I have personally tested, and over time, many of these will be expanded to include my own observations, insights and versions. I'll also intend to talk with you, my ideas and experiences on home bartending, and how you can begin to put together your own collection of ingredients and tools so that you can enjoy or treat your guests a great cocktails at home yourself.

How I came to like cocktails?

My discovery and enjoyment of cocktails doesnt go way too back. As a child, and at times far too young to even understand what alcohol really was, I don`t remeber being fascinated by the concept of cocktails and bartending. But as the years in my adventures with spirits progressed, I kept thinking how much fun it would be to go through bartending school and learn how to master the art of cocktail alchemy.

Back in time, I found myself old enough to go into cocktail bars. Having had a well rounded wallet with me,during my training days for my accounting degree, I knew a few names as "Sex On The Beach", "Screwdriver", Long Island, and there was also this drink called a Martini that nobody really ever ordered. Cocktails in general are not ordered at bars in India as beers or whiskey sodas are. I always found myself at a loss when it came time to order myself. This is because I didn't truly understand what a cocktail was, or grasp the importance of the ingredients that they were made of.

Living in Bangalore and traveling our little globe, my tastes developed and evolved an appreciation for the multitude of cocktails. I started brining home a variety if liquers and started trying combinations. Over last three years, I never knew when my combining skills turned me into a mixologist. I have been mixing drinks at different parties for quite some time.

Cocktail Funda
Humbling myself, I call myself a Mixologist rather than a cocktail connoisseur. Cocktails are different from Wine,Beer, Coffee or Tea. With the laters it's like being able to go into a fine restaurant, and know how to read the menu and order just the right items. But with Cocktails, your role is much closer. Anybody can slop some gin into a glass, drop in an olive, and call it a Martini, but there is more to it then that. Shaken, stirred, gin, vodka, vermouth, olive, twist, orange bitters… there are lots of things to consider and understand if you are to provide your guests with a Martini that they will remember.
This is the path I am on, to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for the cocktail. This blog will be my vehicle for sharing my adventures with you, and hopefully helping you to learn along with me.

Cocktail Nirvana believes in experience and not hangover. Drink responsibly.

About Shank

Shank is a cocktail enthusiast & a self-proclaimed mixologist. He likes to experiment with spirits. He has traveled around a bit visiting hundreds of bars and tasting the buzziest of alcohols, cocktails and shooters.



Shank spent early years of his dizziness in Mumbai. He has lived in Hyderabad for long and for the past few years is chilling his glass in Bangalore.



He is currently busy spreading his love for spirits through this blog - Cocktail Nirvana.


This blog is part of his ongoing quest for fine spirits, creative cocktails and classic mixology. These online journals will capture his cocktail inventions, adventures with alcohol, trips to bars, meeting with ace mixologists, lessons in the art of drinking and much more.

This apart, ignoring good judgment, the fine folks at www.mybangalore.com also allow him to take up valuable space on their portal with his words & pictures.

Away from Nirvana

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