The arrival of the Wine Taverns

You go to a mall, buy yourself a nice trouser, give it for that length alteration and have about 20 minutes till you can take it back. What do you do in the mean time? Wander about more around the mall? Some weird supernatural alcoholic power just drew me towards the food court of Lifestyle, Oasis Park, Koramangla, this Monday while I was waiting for the tailor to give my trouser. I wanted to check out the beer lounge there, but discovered some thing nice and new. Bangalore`s first WINE Tavern - Chopine.

I have been hearing a lot about these taverns for sometime. While on one hand the great BJP govt in the state has decided not to encourage pub-culture, they seem to be quite enthusiastic to boost the wine industry and promote a new "Tavern" culture. Ranking second in wine production in India after , the Karnataka govt, has planned to clear 100 licenses soon allowing opening of taverns that serve wine in glasses in its bid to popularise the drink and also help the grape growers. Now anyone can take a license to open a tavern in public places like shopping malls or open independently by paying a meagre fee of Rs 1,000.

Some of the major wineries are already harbouring major plans to mushroom chains of taverns all around town and they already seem to be a potential threat to the happening pub scene in Bangalore. The Reliance group have apparently applied for 30 taverns while Future Group and Nandy Valley 14 each. I met Chopine`s director - Satish at their tavern counter in the food court who was very glad to talk to me about taverns and Chopine.

Chopine apparently means " a glass of wine" in french. And three friends from college days started this project about a month back and are already planning a second counter at in another popular mall. They have an impressive wine menu. They are serving Shiraz, Carbernet Sauvignon , Reserve Shiraz, Merlot, Madera Red, Manthan & Valentio wines in the Red section. The white wine menu boasts of Chenin Blanc, Viognier, Flora, Chardonnay and many more. They also have sections of Rose wines,Dessert wines & sparkling drinks. Regular wines are priced at Rs125 a glass and Premium wines at Rs 169 a glass. They stock both domestic & imported wines. Right now they have an offer of Rs99 per glass of wine.

What catches my fancy is their "wine based cocktails" section or what we may like to call here as Winetails. Priced in the range of Rs155 to Rs 225, they seem quite interesting. Satish tells me that Wine cooler (White wine & orange crush shaken together & then served on ice with soda top) and Little Eva (Red wine, ginger ale, lime juice and sprite stirred together on ice in a shaker & served in a chilled wine goblet) are the most ordered winetails. I would have liked to see Sangria (Spanish wine based cocktail popular all over the world) in their menu, but was disappointed not to see it there.

Though cocktails are still struggling to get attention in India, the arrival of Taverns and potential winetails in the bazaar is surly a welcome sign to all of us who like to ingest alcohol more as appreciation of fine drinking than just getting high and sloshed. Taverns are surly targeting that profile of customers that believe in good health drinking punch line and the age group of 18 to 35 years. Well they might not be able to convert beer guzzlers into wine drinkers but nevertheless are a great new concept of going out for that after work drink or weekend outing.

World`s most expensive cocktail

When you hear the word Sidecar, what image does your mind sketch? That removable one wheeler attached to a bike & Dharmendra singing "Yeh dosti" in Sholay? Sorry, moi is different and the picture that my mind etches is a classic martini glass, sugar rimmed, filled with Cognac shaken on ice with Cointreau and lime juice. Yeah - Sidecar - It`s a classic cocktail and has been around since end of World War I . Cognac being an expensive affair, bars around Bangalore resort to using regular brandy. The taste differs a bit but still is worth some indulgence.

There is good reason, why I am writing of Sidecar today. As I flipped though the pages of India Today`s lifestyle mag - SPICE, the last page was a delight to my eyes. A big picture and a small note, about Sidecar made in the Hemmingway Bar at "The Ritz", Paris. Hemmingway Bar is considered to be the Mecca of cocktails and serves the most astronomically "priced and tasting" drinks in the world. The bar is supposedly encased in warm wood paneling with photos of Ernest Hemingway covering the walls. There are bookcases and trinkets, leather armchairs and a hidden nook. My wife is visiting Paris next week & I intend to force her to go pay a visit to this temple of bars. May be I will get a first hand picture or two to post on this blog then.

Right now I am posting a scanned picture from the magazine & reproducting the text below it. The hemmingway bar has the Guinness Book record of serving the world`s most expensive cocktail.

" Call it classic fantastic. The Ritz Sidecar Cocktail, shaken and stirred, at the Hemmingway Bar in Hotel Ritz, Paris is a shot of excess. Quite literally. At Euros 700 (Rs45,182) , the Guinness Book of World Records calls it the world`s most expensive, commercially available cocktail. Concocted in 1923 by Frank Meier, the first chief barman at the Ritz, it is made of cointreau and lemon juice, and of exception fine 1865 Champagne cognac, produced before the ravages of phylloxera on the vineyards. In the 1860s, a pestilence of aphid-like insects wiped outmany of France`s finest grapevines, and only a handful of bottles of the Ritz Reserve remained (which, infact, German soldiers tried to steal from The Ritz during WWII). Preserved for more than a century, this 1865 Cognac is a rare treat. Which is why the hotel has sold only 60 drinks in the past 3 years. Savour, slowly we say."

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