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.

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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