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.

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 also allow him to take up valuable space on their portal with his words & pictures.

Away from Nirvana