Flambe at Ambrosia

Food is not my cup of tea. Nevertheless, this one time I had to make an exception as the food involved alcohol. Ambrosia, on 100 ft road, Kormangala is an international cuisine restaurant and is celebrating a 2-week flambé festival. If you have not heard the Ambrosia’s jingle on the radio yet, Flambé, is a French style of cooking where along with great culinary skills, there is certain importance given to the visual delights of cooking as well. Food is half-cooked in the kitchen and the final touches are given tableside on movable cooking stations. Generous amounts of alcohol, mostly wine or brandy are dashed out to set your food on fire along with delectable sauces, selected cheeses and an assortment of spices.

Winter chill in the air, a festive mood around, the flames from Chef Vinod’s working station near the neighboring table and I knew I had a perfect evening in the making. A menu created especially for Ambrosia’s Flambe festival with an impressive lineup of options made the choice difficult. Zeroing in on Beef Burgundy for the main course I left the choice of starters to the chef, to serve their best. And as we devoured the Bruchetta, Chicken Wings, Mutton Sheekh & Prawns Gamboroni, I couldn’t stop wondering how the kitchen at this restaurant was bringing forth different cuisines to such perfection. Known for its international cuisine the menu is the dream of any food lover with delicacies from France, Jamiaca, Spain and more countries across the globe. There is a lot of Indian in there as well. The small little country flags on the menu help you know where the food is from. The starters made me determined to go back for more over the next few weeks.

And finally came the part I was waiting for most, I could feel the juices flowing as the trolley was pushed next to my table. I watched Chef Vinod adding in the flavors and flambéing my beef with red wine. Only liquors and liqueurs with a high alcohol content can be used to flame foods, and those with a higher proof will ignite more readily. Beer, champagne, and most table wines will not work. Spirits with 40% alcohol are considered the best choices for flambé. If the spirit is pre heated a little before adding to the food, it works really well. Ambrosia uses brandy and dark rum for some dishes apart from using red or white wines in some dishes.

I knew why preparing food was an art when I saw my beef on fire. I think apart from the flavor flambe technique adds to your meal, the process also works on building your appetite, atleast it worked wonders on mine. Served with Herb rice the meat was tender, the flavor right and the aroma inviting. White wine is suggested with white meat and red wine with Red meat. Big Banyan has done well with pairing their wines for the flambé festival. A glass of wine is complimentary with the flambé menu.

As I did justice to the entire helping on my plate I planned to skip the dessert until my partner read to me about the Drunken Banana – a Jamaican desert. Cinnamon flavored strips of banana tossed with butter and brown sugar, flambed with dark rum. Caribbean to the core. Back was the trolley at our table, this time to churn up a rich in calories, but irresistible serving of this very unique dessert which makes you want to forget the damage it may cause to your waistline. Vowing a stricter workout session at the gym the next day, I pushed guilt aside to commit the sin.

Food for two during the festival or otherwise is priced very reasonably and is not likely to set you back by more 1000 to 1200 including a glass of wine.

Close Encounters with Mixology of another kind

I’d like to write about all the great gigs I have been doing this holiday season. The sheer number of events and distractions are the cause for me being away from the machine all these days. But to be honest, I am thinking of posting something different this time.

Cocktail Nirvana, as I like to believe, is less about alcohol and getting drunk and more about a certain passion. Its passion, that drives most of us to take alternate paths at various times of our life. Allow me to talk to you today about someone else’s passion; a passion for mixology of a different and rather popular sort.

The best company a good drink could always use is a nice chat. But then music is a good competitor to a nice chat too. I generally prefer tippling to Jazz and occasionally like to swear by Pink Floyd when I hold my drink. But Martin influenced me to listen to house & progressive trance with his sheer passion for that genre of music. Martin & Aniket, good friends of mine, are a DJ Duo, pursuing their thirst for playing good electronic dance music. And I write about them today only because I like their passion for what they want to do with music.

Professionally known as II Guys, they are an interesting blend of Delhi & Mumbai. They started talking together a year back only to discover that they have a lot of beats/second (bpm) in common when it had anything to do with music. When they got together, they spoke a lot about music, listened to a lot more and they decided they had to be making a lot more people jump to it. They happened to meet Ashim, resident DJ at fBar, New Delhi, through a friend and got him excited about doing something very different from the regular hip-hop & commercial music. What followed did a lot of good for them, few clubs in Delhi & a lot of good reviews, which sent their morale high up in the air.

Another reason I got rolling about them today is that I have been teaming up with them for lot of parties that I have been doing of late. Bangalore is an absolute Cosmo city and needs international music to go with its cosmopolitans. II Guys have been pumping the private party scenes in Bangalore, complimenting greatly the flashy drinks from the bars managed by Cocktail Nirvana. 2 CDJ CD players, 1 DJM mixer & some good speakers splashed in good measure, is all that II Guys need to start dropping the latest tracks from all around the globe and make people go bonkers over music they don’t get to hear everyday at a good party with the most delicious cocktails flowing till the wee hours !!

The II Guys are here to do something crazily electrifying, and I’m glad they are a part of the gigs I do. Aniket & Martin, with their CDs of course, are people I would definitely recommend, at any place where people know what exactly they want, be it top notch cocktails or unforgettable musical experience.

I will be back soon writing more about alcohol in general and about Mekhong, Bacardi O & Bacardi Gold in particular. But I intend to use this blogspace occasionally also as a platform to introduce to you, people with fabulous talent who are pursuing their passion with great zest and lot of lime!!!

Bacardi "O" Media release

Here is the media release of Bacardi`s latest orange flavoured rum into Indian market. Its called Bacardi "O".

"BACARDI ‘O’ joins the growing family of fabulous flavored Bacardi rums in India - allowing for a wider range of mix ability across its portfolio

Bangalore, Dec 09: Bacardi, the world’s most popular premium white rum, is proud to introduce to India, for the first time Bacardi ‘O’, the first orange flavored Rum ever to be seen in the market. The flavor has been introduced in the Karnataka region and is priced at Rs. 620 per 750 ml bottle. The power packed launch saw Bangalore’s young sensation, Rachel Byros, vouching for this crisp, intense, juicy bite.

At the launch, Mr. Krishnan spoke about the special focus that the Bacardi brands are giving to the markets in the South, and about Bacardi O being only launched in Karnataka for now, given the strong preference for flavored white spirits that the state has come to demonstrate in recent times. Mr. Krishnan also shared plans of the imminent launch of their premium golden rum, Bacardi Gold, that would be launched in India close on the heels of Bacardi O.

With Bacardi O, the Bacardi flavor portfolio now boasts of four exciting alternatives for consumers, with the Limon, Apple and Razz variant already present in the market. With citrus-based flavors already having been a proven success among consumers in India, especially down South, Bacardi O is bound to be a runaway hit with the consumers in Karnataka. Bacardi O’s refreshing taste, derived from the choicest of oranges and tangerines, is the perfect base for any cocktail and is expected to be a popular order at bars. The BACARDI ‘O’ bottle design is equally tempting, with a distinctive orange-coloured “O” on the label and a bright orange cap signaling the tart, tantalizing taste within.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Arvind Krishnan, Controller – Marketing, Bacardi Martini India Limited, said,

The Flavors category has been the fast moving one within the white spirits segment and the introduction of Bacardi ‘O’ perfectly fits into our growing portfolio of premium, international offerings to the experimental consumers of today. Its enormous popularity across international markets showcases its strength of quality, making it one of the most appealing flavor introductions so far.”

Bacardi O rum goes well with a surprisingly large variety of mixers and has several preferred ways of consumption, leading among which is over crushed ice with an orange peel garnish, or mixed with tonic and Sprite."

Winter Cocktails

I do not know how magical it used to get in winters in here in Bangalore.I hear in December, the city would almost always be buried under a fat coat of fog, but of late, seeing just a wee bit of it nowadays has become a dream. Nevertheless, its still better than some other cities in India.

The bright sun shine this morning made me feel like singing Annie`s song and I took my motorcycle for quick ride on the beautiful sarjapur road. And its while riding I was thinking , if drinking enthusiasts around know of good cocktails to sip on cosy cold winter evenings. Here are a few recommendations from cocktail nirvana :

1) Hot Toddy: Its a classic and almost all of us might know of this. Choose your base - whiskey or brandy. I prefer Brandy. 150 ml Hot water, dash of lime, a tea spoon of honey and a nice large measure of brandy, all stirred together and served in an old fashioned glass. Adding cinnamon and cloves is also a good way of spicing up the drink. You will love the warm drip in your chest with every sip. Serves as a good alternative to medicine if you are having a running nose or a soar throat.

2) Hot Buttered Rum: For all your folks who are not very conscious of your calorie intake, this one is for you. Choose a good dark rum. Melt a teaspoon of butter along with a teaspoon of brown sugar in about 150 ml of hot water. To this potion add dark rum as much as your guts prefer.

3) Irish Coffee: Quite common as a post dinner drink, this one is likely to fancy you if you are a coffee lover as well. A shot of good whikey (although Irish whiskey would be nicer), in about 100 to 150 ml of black coffee topped with freshly whipped cream served in a sugar rimmed Irish Coffee glass makes this a fabulous choice for winter.

The above three are the most commonly preferred ones. There are many fancy drinks all over the world that people take on in winters. In Istanbul, Turkey, they have a drink called Boza. Never having travelled there or having any friend from there, I obviously stumbled upon this one on the Internet. Its a fermented drink made from a species of wheat. Supposed to be very tart in taste and thick in consistency, it was served in the ottoman empire to the armies in winters because of its warming qualities.

I am eager to hear from people if they know of any fancy winter cocktails. Of course, outside Old monk and hot water!!!!

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