If you have read Freakonomics, you will understand what is Alconomics. Freakonomics is a collection of articles by Levit & Dubner published as a book. The stories apply economic theories to diverse subjects not usually covered by traditional economists. (Courtesy - Wiki).For example in one of the articles, the authors state that the reason for rise in crime rate in US was not the liberal gun licensing policy as all assumed. The real reason was the rise in teenage pregnancies. Teen moms were abandoning their new borns. These babies were growing up in not so good neighbourhoods and eventually took up crime in life. The authors in fact establish their theory with statistics of correlation.

I read this book about 4 years back but a random TOI blog that I read a few days back on prohibition in Gujarat lead me to think of the concept of Alconomics. Gujarat has been a prohibition state for last 50 years. The statesmen have given the following reason for not lifting the ban in the state:

"The Gandhians in Gujarat however oppose lifting of prohibition tooth and nail. Many others think that there are no "other crimes" in Gujarat because the police is happy from the income generated from prohibition. Moreover criminals can also earn enough from this business: so there is no need for them to indulge in other, deadlier crimes. There are some who think that the streets of Gujarat are immune from the sort of crime seen in other places because of prohibition. Lifting prohibition will be akin to opening the gates of a dam, they argue. "

Very alconomics - ain't it? Read the complete post here!!

Bangalore`s Oldest Bar

Some one told me that there are apparently 2800 licquor licenses in this town and you will wonder how many of them are the new age pubs and lounge bars. Good friend Atul`s tweet took me to this article. In these times, in India`s fast-rising high-tech capital - Bangalore, whose abundance of bars and clubs have earned it the moniker Pub City, still hanging to its heritage and glory is Dewars, a bar in older parts of the town.

Click HERE to read on about this place.

Bartender Interview : Nick Hawkins

Having mixed at quite a few big places like Taj, Olive & Red Light, Mumbai, working as a consultant for Taj - Chennai, owning a bar in Goa, & now handling Zara`s bar in Pune, Nick has come quite a long way is his bartening career of over 12 years.

Why did you decide to get into bartending?
Actually I didn’t make a conscious decision to get into bartending. I was 16 and wanted money. So decided to take up part-time work at a bar in UK – Melonis. I started cleaning tables and collecting glasses to begin with. After spending some time at the bar, I started liking the whole night life, enjoying the crowd at the bar, and also realizing that I am not so good at academics, moved over as a full time bar back. Melonis had 287 cocktails on its menu and it took me 6 months of rigorous hard work to be a bar back to begin with. It included working late and going home & staying up late to read the cocktail list and knowing what goes in what. One thing lead to another and I did a sponsored flair course as well with them and in 12 years, I am where I am.

How did you go about getting your first bartending gig? Was it tough to land your first one?
I was sitting with my sister and her boyfriend at the bar quaffing a beer (I was underage, but what can you do about it now?? Hehe). On my sister’s suggestion I walked up to the manager of the place to enquire about any jobs. Looks like I was successful in working my charm with the owner’s wife (the manager) and landed myself with the job. So no, it was not too tough!!

What is your favorite drink ?
To drink: Beer
To make : (After much mulling) – An Old Fashioned. It takes about 12 minutes to make an old fashioned properly.

What is your least favorite drink to make?
Anything blue in colour. There is no fruit that is blue in colour. I dun understand why we should use Blue Curacao at all!!! Blue berries don’t count – Sorry.

What is your bartender pet peeve?
Rude customers or customers who interrupt when you are busy with another customer.
Dirty Bars and stinky bars.

What’s the most interesting/scandalous thing that’s happened to you on the job?
No comments – involves a lot of girls!

What’s the most memorable pickup line you’ve heard?
Just 24 hours back there were a bunch of women who went wild and started dancing on top of the bar. One of them asked me out – not once – twice.

Who would YOU want to have a drink with and why?
Nicholas Cage from Leaving Las Vegas cause I think he comes around as a hilarious chap to me.

Tell us one thing about tending bar that we might not know?
There are two things:
1) There are at least 2 or 3 hours of cleaning and other dirty work after closing the bar. So customers should really understand and respect that the bartender’s job is not over. They must stop harassing him for that one last drink.
2) Bartending is a full time job and it can be dangerous for your personal life. Relationships can go through a lot of stress due to lack of time being spent with each other.

Hard Rock Cafe - New Delhi

Guest writer - I must say I’m sooper excited to introduce Mr.Martin as the first guest writer on my blog. Martin has been part of Cocktail Nirvana`s family doing private gigs before and a great bartender (he pours amazing beer). In that context he is not a full time guest either. Today Martin gives us a hands on review of Hard Rock Cafe`s latest joint in New Delhi. Read on.
“Take time to be kind”, “All is one” and “Love all, serve all”. These are the three bold statements which catch your eye as soon as you’re ushered in by a very welcoming crew at the Hard Rock Café, New Delhi, which is located inside the 1 month old mall, called the DLF Place, Saket. The place has a very ‘woody’ architecture and has a lot of design cues from the 70s and the 80s, with things like a huge hologram of Mick Jagger and David Bowie behind the bar, which make the place, look very retro and classy. Hard Rock is known for its trademark bands memorabilia, given to Hard Rock personally by the members which ranges from guitars to costumes used by them in various gigs over time. This definitely would take the guests on a beautiful time warp for hours, or maybe more!

We found place at the bar and it didn’t take more than a few seconds to jump onto the stools and start flipping through the menu. We were being served by Surya, again a very energetic and ‘ready to try anything new with alcohol’ bartender. He has been doing this for the past 9 years, having worked in places like Saudi Arabia as well, and loves mixing alcohol for his girlfriend.

Having been to Hard Rock Café a zillion times in Bangalore, I love being served draught beer in the pint glasses, which has its own pleasure. So, I expected the same in Delhi. But it wasn’t to be. Draught beer is not served at Hard Rock Café, Delhi. No big deal, happens all the time, is what I say to myself and carry on with the experience which was to go on till 1 AM. This made me try Tuborg, which is being spoken about by a lot of people around, and I liked it quite a lot. Beer is priced at Rs. 250. We ordered some onion rings, which also is a habit which I developed in Bangalore. After a few rounds of beer, we decided to try a few cocktails, mixed at Hard Rock. We ordered a round of Whiskey Sour, which turned into 3 in sometime. Oh yes, there were no eggs around, so we had to do with Whiskey Sour, sans eggs in them. Cocktails are priced at Rs. 345 a piece. The price difference in beer and cocktails is not much, which would encourage people to try the various cocktails available.

Since I am not a big on any form of rock, which is usually played at Hard Rock, I wouldn’t comment on the music. But a friend, who was with me, and who loves rock, was very happy with the guy at the console, and so were others. And yes, the traditional YMCA was carried out with a lot of readiness, aplomb and let’s not forget, the heightened energy levels, by the crew members at the Hard Rock.

Beer and Whiskey present in our system at good levels, we decided to go for a round of B-52s. But Surya wanted us to go for something different. Enter, the Sambooka! And before we knew what was happening, he was on top of the bar with a bottle full of spirit, asking us to turn around one by one. And we did. He filled our mouths with the certain spirit and lit it, and we swallowed it down, which did send us on a crazy trip moments later. Priced at Rs. 700, a mouthful, if I may call it that, I would say, it was worth it.

A shot like that, and most smokers would scurry for a smoke, which, according to us, makes it feel “better”. And so we did. Usually, there is a separate section for people to smoke, at any place, which is super small and has no proper ventilation. But not this one. The smoking area at Hard Rock has a big window to let the smoke out and has enough space for at least 10 people smoking inside without having the next person eavesdropping on your conversation. Also the place is cleaned periodically and has the whole memorabilia thing extending inside as well.

Wrapping up on this, I would ask everyone who stays in Delhi or visiting Delhi for sometime, to give this place a definite try. And while you’re at it, you would also want to check the Hard Rock memorabilia store right at the entrance, which has Tee shirts, glasses and other collectives.
Hard Rock Café, New Delhi, Cocktail Nirvana recommends!

Nick Hawkins @ Zara

If you listen to Radio Indigo in Bangalore, you must have heard the promos of this event. I was driving through the MG Road when this huge hoarding that caught my attention:

The last celebrity bartending event that touched the town was Prasad Biddappa mixing drinks at Caperberry bar. But this Brit who has made India his home for quite a few years - Nick Hawkins - is not a celebrity who is mixing drinks; but a bartender who is a celebrity. He is the latest coup at Zara, Bangalore. After successfully turning around Zara Chennai & Calcutta, Nick is on a month long mission in our town to promote the Bangalore version.

I have personally visited Zara, Chennai about 3 years back and loved their libations ; not sure if Nick was around at that time. Nick used to couple with Giancarlo Mancino - another Italian mixologist (now he owns a fabulous place - Giancarlos on Lavele road), at Taj , Mumbai to mix drinks. Flair is surly going to be part of his style & why not since he is also a national level flair championship winner a few years back. Now having mixed at quite a few big places like Taj, Olive & Red Light, Mumbai, working as a consultant for Taj - Chennai, handling Zara`s bar, owning a bar in Goa, Nick has come quite a long way is his bartening career of over 12 years. Read Nick Hawkins story here.

If you are a lover of the art of flair bartending and classic mixology Nick will be a great barman to see. I hope to see him in person very soon and would love if any of you would like to join me when I hit Zara this July!!

The day of the Gay

The biggest victory for gay rights in India has arrived at our doorstep with Delhi High Court’s landmark decision of decriminalizing homosexuality today. A 149-year-old law has been muddled to achieve a major milestone in the country’s social evolution. Whether this ruling will hold good outside Delhi, we have to wait and watch, but a giant step has been taken.

Elsewhere - In the United States of America, THIS is how a few bars joined the fight for equality for gays recently. Hence the arrival of EQUALITINI. While there will be quite a few interpretations for this cocktail, I will be trying my own version tonite at Take 5.

Here is the recipe:
30 ml Chivas Regal Scotch
30 ml Grey Goose Vodka
30 ml ginger and honey syrup
Dash of bitters, lime juice and splash of orange juice

Stir all ingredients together in shaker with lots of ice and fine strain into a chilled martini glass. Serve along with a chaser shot of Cosmo.

If you are around, do ask for it and show your support to the gay community, for the law might have freed the gays, but the society still has to.

While we are at the foothills of the gay rights mountain, one of the best ways to take the temperature of the community is to see what they are drinking. Before the arrival of Cosmo, gays were surly getting drunk but they rarely held allegiance to any one drink, un aware that just beyond the horizon a new sunset beckoned. And in `97, Carrie Bradshaw and Stanford Blatch in the famous TV series “Sex & The City”, popularized the Cosmopolitan into mainstream drinking. Much to the colour of cranberry juice, the gay world immediately took delight in sipping Cosmos all the time. Eventually, every one you knew drank Cosmos & the gay world started hunting for the next cosmo.

Has the gay world found it ? No drink could ever hope to be the true heir of the mighty Cosmo, but the Mojito came pretty damn close in the early 00-03. But mojito suffered the same fate as the Cosmo. Even James Bond was drinking it in Die Another Day. For a brief shining moment, the Pomegranate Martini restored order and harmony.

After enough pursuit and tired of choosing allegiance to a specific drink, Margaritas, Old-Fashioneds and Juleps; the classic drinks, are being rediscovered by a new generation. I have guests who ask me specifically not to make drinks that are bold in colour like pink, blue or green. My guess is they are scared of being perceived as gays. On another hand a very close friend of mine who I know is super straight (right now J, pun intended), does enjoy his Melon Martini very much despite its pink color and sweet taste. Bottom line , people are now ordering based on their own personal preference, meaning that perhaps the days of the gay solidarity cocktail are at long last, numbered. What do you think?

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