A cold dense black coffee like infusion with a fine creamy foam or head on top is what comes to your mind when you think of a stout beer. So, what is a Stout? A Stout is a top-fermented beer or an ale which is typically made using roasted unmalted barley and often with adjuncts like oatmeal etc added. The classic aromas of a stout include coffee, chocolate with hops in the background. Going against its looks, a Stout is not that bitter but is on the sweeter side relatively speaking in terms of beers. Indians have taken up to stout very well, perhaps it all started with the Irish Guinness and then the microbreweries took it even higher so much that we now have stouts in bottles made by Indian producers. Here are the Indian Stout Beers in bottle
Creamy, Espresso, Ebony, Bold are the adjectives the company uses to describe their stout. It is again light bodied relatively with 5% alcohol.
Bira Malabar Stout
The Malabar Stout beer from Bira mimics a cold brew coffee with alcohol. It has 4.5% alcohol and is much lighter than traditional stouts. They use coffee beans from the Malabar hills in India and hence the name. Sounds like a good beer to induct a coffee lover into the beer world.
Goa Brewing Cos Breakfast Cereal Stout
This one has a different take on a traditional stout with a different grainbill. This one had rice puffs, oats, corn flakes as the base of the beer and you now understand where the nomenclature comes from. They also add adjuncts like chocolate and lactose to the mix and bottle it at 4.5 percent alcohol
Briggs Brewery Stout Alchemy
A full bodies Irish stout, it exudes aromas of caramel, coffee and chocolate and will moderate bitterness from the hops. This will be released short in the market
A career in bartending is slowly gaining momentum in India and hence lot of bartending institutes and bar schools are mushrooming to fill the gap in bartending education. Whilst some may be focused on education, many are factories where the quality of education of often ignored specially due to faculty with lack of industry experience and hence content.
The Happy High hence is slated to start it's own bartending school in Mumbai after being in the wine and spirit education field for 10 years. The Bartending Academy in Mumbai will be headed by Ajit Balgi , a WSET Educator, India's first India based wine educator who is also a Cognac Educator( one of the 90 in the world) and also a Maison trainer a global bar training program. Ajit has trained over 5000 professionals and has trained hoteliers in Maldives, Thailand and London and is associated with beverages for the last 19 years.
The Happy High Bar School aims to groom beginners and get them job ready with content that is relevant for today's bars. We will look at getting the basics right in terms of spirits knowledge, wine tasting techniques, cocktail styles and cocktail making apart from getting the core of customer service and Bartender's personality right. Whilst Flair Bartending is what many beginners aspire to learn, we feel that the skill is not relevant for bars in India and abroad for now. Hence Fire Flair etc will be out of purview in this course.
How to choose a Bartending School in India?
- Look at the Faculty & industry connect
- Look at the infrastructure - a functional bar, equipments
- Look at the course relevance and practical aspect.
- Don't look for low fees. You do a bar course once, so please don't cut corners.
- Don't look at earning money during the course. You are there to study.
- Don't get lured into Flair Bartending, the industry relevance is low.
Please write to us at email@example.com for more details
The world of wines begins with some 8-10 grapes and most wine list comprise of these because they are global and move off the shelf easily. However, because of the brand value these grapes carry, they automatically command a price which may necessarily not offer value. As a wine enthusiast it is advisable to look beyond to broaden your wine horizon and also save money as the lesser known varieties can offer super value. Here are a 10 not so known grape varieties that are available in India. Sante!
Hailing from Sicily this is the main hero in Etna DOC wines made 800 meters above sea level on volcanic soils. It produces a very lean and crisp wine with green fruits notes. Mt Etna is still an active volcano by the way which make this wine even more interesting.
Caricante brands in India: Scalunera Etna Bianco
Hailing from Sardinia; Italy, the Vermentino is quite an aromatic grape variety and offers refreshing notes of pears and citrus with floral undertones. It’s also called Rolle in France and brings out very value driven wines from South-eastern France.
Vermentino brands in India: Marius by Chapoutier, France, Bibi Graetz Casamatta, Italy, Metal, Australia.
The Austrian specialty with bracing acidity, the GruVee is a wine meant for ageing. A high yielding variety it can be spicy & peppery or can be laden with stone fruits depending from where it comes from. It accounts for over 28% of Austrian wine acreage.
Gruner Veltliner brands in India: Domaene Gobelsburg, Weingut Jurtschitsch
Albarino in Spain or Alvarinho in Portugal is a grape known to produce wines with refreshing acidity and citrus notes with some stone fruit and tropical melon creeping in with ripeness. The grape is also a part of Vinho Verde blends from Portugal.
Albarino brands in India: Bodegas Paco & Lola from Rias Baixas; Spain
The most famous white grape from Salta, Argentina. This is one is very perfumed with balanced acidity couple with stone fruit notes. Indian palates will love this.
Torrontes brands in India: Crios, Santa Julia,
This north eastern Italian grape make is the main hero in the world-famous blends of Valpolicella and Bardolino. It can also be available as a 100% with a very good potential to age. It makes light to medium bodied wines with refreshing acidity, red fruit notes with cherry lingering. It is the same grape used to make our favourite Amarone Della Valpolicella.
Corvina brands in India: Zenato, Tedeschi, Zonin, Folonari, Pasqua, Tenuta Saint Antonio
A thin-skinned paradox which requires a lot of sun to ripen to give out a lot of lovely strawberry and red fruit noted but the acidity gets it caught on the wrong side, it’s low. Thus Grenache in most cases is a blend with Syrah for the balance and also GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre) blends . The classic region for Grenache is southern Rhone, Priorat in Spain where it is called Garnacha and now Australia too, mainly Barossa is getting very popular.
Garnacha brands in India :
Rhone and South West France Blends: Famille Perrin, M Chapoutier, Daronton, Le Grand Noir GSM.
Spain: Prima by Bodegas Maurodos, Castello De Monseran
Australia & India: Rolfbinder;Oz, Source by Sula Grenache Rose, Chapel Hill 100% Grenache; Oz,
Monastrell in Spain or Mourvedre in France is a grape which yields a full-bodied red with black fruit, spices and herbs. It can see oak and makes wine which are a mouthful. It is the ‘M’ in the GSM blends.
Monastrell brands in India: Eco Bodegas Fuerza; Spain, Fairview Caldera GSM,
This Italian grape is the 2nd largest varietal planted in Italy. It yields medium bodied red wines which are black fruit driven with sweet spice and supple tannins. The most famous Montepulciano wines come from Abruzzo.
Montepulciano brands in India: Sirente, Folonari, Pasqua,
Lush black fruit, licorice and the ripeness is alluring in this Sicilian variety which is not as known. It makes medium to full bodied fruit driven wines. Surprisingly we also have an Indian version of Nero D’Avola made in India by Reveilo wines.
Nero D’Avola brands in India: Donnafugata Sedara, Pieno Sud
2019 passed of in a jiffy and India saw a lot of progression in the drinks trade like every year. Sustainability was the buzz word and so was gin to a great extent and homegrown whisky brands continued to make a splash locally and globally. Here are our insights on what should 2020 be like or would be for the wine and spirit trade in India… Cocktail trends, new spirits and more.
People are getting more conscious about their diets and about price points. Low alcohol cocktails with a 30 or a 40 ml shot of spirit can bring the costs down by 1/3rd and also make the drink healthier. The price will also attract more patrons to order a cocktail and the bartender can have more creative work behind the bar.
Sugar free Cocktails:
With health becoming a priority and people going for spirit and water combinations, sugar free cocktails will be a new thing on the menu. Sugar free doesn’t mean drinks with Stevia and sugar alternatives but cocktails with a salt and acid balance or balance drawn from the sugar in the aged spirit.
Hand Cut Ice
The importance of ice in a drink has long been known by bartenders but due to operational issues that it was just treated as another ingredient. However we will soon see more bars getting serious about one of the most important ingredients in a drink by investing in better ice machines and also getting more involved in cutting ice blocks and hand carved ice
Wine is slowly coming to terms with India and vice-versa. The upper echelons of the society who is more exposed to wine and can afford it will look at the next level, Organic wines. Wine lists will have organic pointed to for those discerning.
Ayurveda and seasonality:
India has 6 seasons or ritus , Vasanta (spring), Grishma (summer), Varsha (monsoon), Sharad (autumn), Hemant (fall winter), and Shishir (winter) and the Indian Ayurveda diets based on these apart from the classification of food based on Satvik, Tamasik or Rajasik. For Cocktails, India will take of leaf of Ayurveda and use of ingredients like vetiver, licorice root, turmeric, sesame,neem, brahmi, ashwagandha, ginger with more functionality. Even regional fruits like the Bael fruit, kokum would see some light. Antiaging, cooling properties etc will be the buzz words.
Alcohol free :
Why should only people who drink alcohol have all the fun! Teetotalers wouldn’t want to be left out and hence will take up to non-alcoholic beverages as long as the look and the feel and the experience is like that of an alcoholic beverage. Artisanal mocktails or alcohol free cocktails with more seriousness will take some steps this year.
In house fermentation of fruit juices, kombuchas, tepaches, hop infusions and more. Progressive bartenders will pave the path for the country to follow in due course. It will be small beginnings given the resources and people’s ability to afford thus translating to lower demand. Top bars will set themselves apart with this.
Rum & Brandy:
Lastly there will be new wave of dark spirits with Rum being at the forefront and brandy specially Cognac in tow. Rum Old fashioned, Cognac Sours, Rum and Cigar, Cognac cocktails will take a leap. Both spirits have a profile that suit the Indian palate and it is only a matter of time and sustained marketing that these will rub shoulder with whisky, of course in the higher
Cheers to 2020!
Wheat beers are favourites in the craft beer scene in India because of their fruitiness and low IBU (International bittering units) typically. So, what is a wheat beer? Wheat beers use a higher amount of wheat than barley to produce beers and because of the higher protein content in the former the beers are hazy but give a richer and thicker mouth feels to the beers. The wheat unlike malted barley doesn’t add much flavour of its own to the final product and hence the yeast plays a very important role for flavour. In the India the two most popular style of wheat are the Hefeweizen and Belgian Wit. We will look at them both individually and list Indian brands in bottles for you apart from one American Styled Wheat.
Belgian Wit bier
Wit bier is made of minimum 50% unmalted wheat in Belgium which makes them different from the German style in addition to the flavouring of Coriander and Orange peel the Belgians add to this style. They could add more spice but the above mentioned are the basics. This style was revived globally and in India by Hoegaarden specially with their ritual of adding an orange slice into the glass.
Kingfisher: The latest entrant in the India’s bottled non-lager segment, Kingfisher the market leader in beers is all set to ride the craft wave with this wit bier.
Simba: Apart from the classic Coriander and Orange peel, the Simba roars with some added goodness of Lemongrass.
Mad King Dufa: This one was thought of in Delhi but made in Belgium. The other one from the brewery is a lager call the Kolga.
White Owl Spark: It started off as a microbrewery in Mumbai and continues to but has also added to bottled fare.
Bira White: The craft behemoth which started the wave for bottled craft beer in the country continues to grow.
White Rhino: India’s first craft brewery in the bottled business, they also flavour their wit bier with Himalayan coriander.
Mahou Maestra Wheat: Although owned the Spanish Mahou, this one’s made in Indian and used Himalayan Coriander and Seville orange peel for the brew.
Willy's Witbier: The latest entrant in the bottled witbier segment, the Will's by Briggs Brewery Bengaluru is now launched in the Bengaluru market.
This German cloudy wheat beer has aromas of banana and cloves owing to the yeast so much that it can’t be handled by many palates and hence a slice of lemon can help uplift. It can be made with made with both malted and unmalted wheat. In Germany Hefe come from yeast or beer with yeast that is typically unfiltered and that is showcased by Weihenstephan which claims to be oldest brewery in the world through their beers.
Thirsty Simona: This one’s a Indian co but they brew in Bosnia under Alex their brew master.
American Wheat Beer
This style is America’s take on the traditional Bavarian Hefeweizen but without the spice. The beers are summer beer which are thirst quenching with great balance of malts and hops. The bittering units are low and so are the hops. The style has been making waves and become mainstream over the last one decade.
Arbor Easy Rider:
An easy drinking beer for the tropical weather with good balance of hops and malt. Hence the name perhaps!
IPA or India Pale Ale was created for India, not for Indians bur for the British Colonists in India. The British got their ration of beer directly shipped from England; however, a lot of beer was spoilt during the long and arduous sea voyage. To overcome this, the brewers started to work on different ingredients and then finally decided to harness the power of two ingredients which were already a part of the beer, Hops the flavouring agents in beer and alcohol the by product of fermentation. They made a more alcoholic beer and hopped them more than usual. When the beer reached Indian, it wasn’t spoilt, it was more aromatic, and it was bitter. The soldiers loved it and Voila, the India Pale Ale was created.
IPA’s have got popular in India over the last decade majorly owing to the craft beer scene in India, and we heard recently about Kimaya brewing co based out of Pune created the ‘IPA Divas by the Pune Beer Mandal’ , translates from Marathi to ‘IPA Day by the Pune Beer Association’. It just reiterates the increasing popularity for the beer category; however, IPA is not for all; specially the Indian palate. The bitterness is the hurdle and hence most brewers keep the IBU (international bittering units) relatively low. low for the Indian palate. IPA hence has flourished in our opinion and now also coming in bottles for those who do not have access to brew pubs around them.
Here the 4 Indian IPA beer brands:
Bira IPA: The Bira version of how Indian would love an IPA. This one is brewed with pomelo and is very zest and citrusy. It used a blend of barley and wheat and is flavoured with Citra and Mosaic hops.
White Rhino: At 40 IBU the bitterness is very controlled. The brand uses Ahtahnum, Cascade, Mosaic and Styrian Goldings hops for their brew.
Arbor Beach Shack IPA: They call it a session IPA, session refers to low alcohol beers this IPA at 6 is much lower than traditional IPAs. Citra and Centennials hops give it that aromatic thrust.
Eight Finger Eddie by Goa Brewing Co: Gutsy attempt and a successful one at lauching an IPA as their maiden and flagship product. This one with 30 UBU is a very easy drinking IPA with pleasant aromas.
Hoppy Feet by Briggs Brewery: The latest entrant to the bottled craft beers segment in India , this American IPA is brewed in Bengaluru and now available in the city's retail.
Cognac is the world’s best-known brandy. In India Cognac if often associated with Bollywood, “Cognac sharaab nahi hoti” said Rishi Kapoor in Chandni 1989 and then Shahrukh Khan to Kajol in DDLJ 6 years later. If you read between the lines and try to understand the deeper meaning, may be it relates to what the Indian upper classes generally think of the beverage, sophistication. Well Cognac certainly deserves the respect for all it undergoes to come into ones lead free crystal.
Cognac is made from the Ugni blanc grape, double distilled in a special copper pot still called the alembic charentaise and then ages for a minimum of 2 years in oak barrels, either new or in the ones that carried a wine or a wine-based spirit. These days a sherry or a port cask finish is quite common in the Cognac world. The time they spend in the barrel in indicates as VS, VSOP and XO in an ascending order of 2 years, 4 years and 10 years. The years indicate the youngest cognac in the bottle, the oldest may be 5 decades old. This is where the art of Cognac blending comes into picture.
The Cognac market in India is most in the Southern states of India, Tamil Nadu and Kerala where the blue collared drink locally made brandy (mostly made from molasses) and the upper strata drinks Cognac. So, the following brands of Cognac are available not so readily in India but for the top 3.
Martell: The oldest of the big four in Cognac, the house of Martell was found in 1715 by a Englishman. The brand is now owned by Pernod Ricard and is known for its Borderies focussed Cognac, Borderies being the sub-region where the terroir or the growing environment gives it’s a floral overtone.
Remy Martin: Known for its specialty the ‘Fine Champagne’ Cognac which is a blend of grapes grown in Grande and Petit Champagne the most prestigious regions known for its long-lived Cognacs. It also produces the Louis XIII Cognac, it goes at Rs 3 lakhs plus a bottle.
Hennessy: The market leader of the Cognac world, Hennessy commands a 50% market share globally. It was found by an Irishman, Richard Hennessy in 1765 and today is owned the conglomerate LVMH. They claim to have over 70 cellars in Cognac.
Delamain: Established in 1759, Delamain is one of the oldest and still family run Cognac house. They make only Grand Champagne Cognacs and only XO Cognac which put them in the top tier immediately.
Pierre Ferrand: This house was only found in 1989 and emphasises on 100% Grand Champagne Cognacs which are richer in style. They do not use the known VS, VSOP nomenclature but use proprietary ones. One called the Reserve which is equivalent of a VSOP is available in India.
Otard: Made in the building Chateau de Cognac where Francis the 1st the initiator of the French renaissance was born, Otard was found in 1795 by Jean Baptiste Otard. He was the Mayor of Cognac until his death. The brand is owned by Bacardi now. This Cognac ages in cellars which are at the level of the Charente river with very high humidity and dry cellars over ground which give more blends for the final.
Camus: A family owned company found in 1863, Camus starting 1990s emphasizes on Borderies and also have a 100% Borderies XO Cognac which is their signature. They are also one of those have wine aged expressions in their repertoire.
Courvoisier: Being the only official supplier to Napoleon , Courvoisier has basked in the glory of the title ‘Brandy of the Napoleon’ ever since. They were also the Cognac to toast the ‘unveiling’ of the Eiffel tower.
Godet: Found in 1783, this is an outlier of the lot as the house is based in La Rochelle a town in Cognac on the Atlantic coast. Going back in history this was the town where the technology of distillation met the wines of today Back then they called it "Brandwijn" in Dutch which translated to burnt wine.Today Cognac is the greatest of the burnt wines in the world.
One counter of the breakfast buffet at my hotel in Athens had an exquisite decanter like bejeweled bottle which read ‘Tsikoudia’ and some shot glasses. I saw people pouring a 40% something alcoholic beverage and sipping it alongside their eggs, cheese and pastries. I had never seen this culture before. Greece, certainly not the oldest civilization but the Greeks were the birthplace of the western philosophy. The idea of democracy, scientific and mathematics principles, literature and drama and more emerged from here. Given their strategic location in the midst of Asia, Africa and Europe, the Romans, the Persians and the Ottomans had their eras in Greece thus giving us a rich history and a reason to visit Greece. Of course islands, beaches, party zones are as much motivation to go holidaying on the islands. I had a different motivation to visit Greece, it was the gourmet angle. Baklava, Gyros and Souvlakis to Greece are like Pizzas and Pastas to Italy and I had my share of those. After that breakfast with Tsikoudia, I set out to find more about what the Greeks drink! Apart from their incredible wines and commonplace beers, here is a list of beverages you should try on your vacation to the islands this summer.
It is a pomace brandy made from pomace which is the residue of grape skins etc from the wine press. It is also called Tsikoudia on the island of Crete, the same one I had for breakfast. Tsipouro is best had chilled and neat however many people dilute it with water and ice. The beverage comes as is or with Anise flavouring and these days aged ones are also common.
This is perhaps the most recognizable spirit outside of Greece, an anise flavoured spirit which turns cloudy when mixed with water. It takes its roots from Tsipouro which was created my monks in the 14th century and their anise version got to be known as Ouzo. Ouzo only became popular in the 20th century with the downfall of Absinthe. Ouzo is served with mezze or Greek appetizers and I loved it during the nip in the spring evenings.
It is brandy based liqueur which is flavoured with Mastic a resin drawn out of the Mastic tree. The resin also known as Arabic gum is known for its medicinal and antioxidant properties since millennia. The Mastica is produced in the island of Chios where the Mastic tree grows. Mastic translates to ‘gnash the teeth’ and is the root of the English word ‘masticate’. Mastica can be enjoyed in a variety of cocktails
Another drink with resin, this time pine resin used to flavour wine. 2000 years ago when wine used to be prone to oxidation, the amphorae or clay pots used to be sealed with pine resin , the pine kept the oxygen out but imparted flavour to the wine. When barrels came into the scene the resin became obsolete however the consumers enjoyed the resinous taste and Retsina stayed on and is popular even today.
It is a brand but I have included this here as it was the first Greek brandy which began selling in 1888 and since then survived both world wars, only one of the two companies to do so the other was a tobacco co. Metaxa is an oak-aged brandy mixed with fragrant muscat wines and then flavoured with natural herbs and floral extracts. Metaxa and Tonic and in cocktails Metaxa Juleps and other such long refreshing drinks are preferred.
The beverage industry is alluring to many from the outside and as beverage professionals we can confirm that it is as much from the inside however passion is the driving force to stay put in the industry. As a fresh hotel management graduate or as a student of hospitality, many are quite disillusioned as to what the industry has to offer based on their industrial training experiences or influenced by colleagues. For them they know that the hardships in hotels and restaurants are not their cup of tea however they do not know where to go to! Through this article we are highlighting career paths in beverages for hotel management students however we would like to reinstate that hardships are everywhere and passion is the key. There is no easy way out
1)Bartender: The more glamorous term is mixologist and even more is the Bar Chef doing the round these days! An experienced bartender with 4-6 years of experience can get over Rs 50000 a month in bars and a skilled bartender is always in demand. Don’t shy away from taking your first job as a assistant barman in a very good bar , the first few years are the foundation of a glorious career which could take your to various countries.
2)Sommelier: Translates to a wine waiter in English, the Sommelier’s role in India is still nascent and taking shape. The role initially would involve stacking of bottles, serving on the floor and as the career progresses once is also responsible for buying and P&Ls. A lot of Indian sommeliers are making their presence felt in the Middle East and South Asia and countries like Maldives and Seychelles. The minimum requirement to get on the floor knowledgeably is through a WSET ( Wine and Spirit Education trust) lev 2 qualification or a CMS ( Court of Master Sommeliers) both of which cost Over Rs 32000.For those who don’t want to spend as much as want to test the wine industry , The Happy High has an introductory course focusing on wine tasting technique for Rs 5500.
3)Wine Salesman: Which hotelier doesn’t like Sunday day offs! This job will give you 9 hr work days and a better work life balance. The flipside is the sales pressure and the hardships on the field be it summers, winters or rains and outside an air conditioned environment. A wine sales fresher could start at Rs 15000 and move up the ladder with experience. A wine tasting course will certainly help the aspirant with more jargons and move him/her ahead of the class in interviews.
4)Brand Ambassador: After having been in career option 1 or 2 as above for long, could be 6-8 years opportunities to be a brand ambassador for a liquor co or an import co come around once in a while. This job role entails one to be the educator and the spokesperson for the brand and offers a good work life balance and decent money many a time going to a lac plus. The downside of this role could be monotony and then inability to go back to the rigours of hotel or bar operations thus reducing your job options.
5)Beverage Journalist: For those who can paint with words a beverage journalist role could be your gateway to the world! Beverage journalists often get opportunities to travel to different wine and spirit regions around the world on invitation and taste the best of luxury. The flipside is the relatively less pay the profession offers. A wine course will help you with this , but the command over language and a crash course in journalism could help further.
There are gifts and there are gifts to impress. The way to the man’s heart is through his stomach believe some but some men with finer tastes in life have it through their liver. You got me; few things could be more impressive than the lady being proactive in setting up her man’s wine and spirit closet. One liver, so you better ensure that he is drinking the best. This valentine day here are some tipples you want to bedazzle your date with.
Johnnie Walker Green Label
An outlier from the JW portfolio, the Green is a blend of malts and has no grain whisky unlike other expressions from the range. You will find the elements from four corners of Scotland with hints of Talisker, Caol Ila, Cragganmore and Linkwood.
El Dorado 15 year old
Always in the top rums of the world, this Demerara rum takes its name from a river in Guyana. The brand from the only distilling co in the country is made in century old wooden stills; a rare treat. El Dorado is a sipping rum best had neat.
With the essence of grapefruit and other citrus elements, this gin is best had with a dry tonic with a slice of your favourite fruit, preferably citrus. I love to put in a mogra or Arabian Jasmine flower for that extra burst of aroma.
The bottle stands out amongst bourbon whiskies and the liquid doesn’t fail to impress. Aged in barrels made in their own cooperage this elixir shows nuances of prunes and figs with the freshness of orange, it is well rounded but more crisp than luscious.
Paul John Bold
This homegrown Single Malt from Goa is available in over 20 countries and scores over 94 points in the whisky bible. At 40 ppm peat this smoky whisky is likely to impress those who love their Islay malts.It is a perfect blend for making penicillins and sours too. If you are in the mood to splurge then Goa has another expression, the “Kanya’ which was adjudged Asian whisky of the year in the Whisky Bible.
Lastly don’t forget to look into your partner’s eyes when clinking your glasses or it will be 7 years of bad sex as per a French belief! Wish you a love filled Valentine’s Day.
Last time the piece I wrote on how Indian bars cheat customers drew a lot of ire from unscrupulous bars who thought that as a beverage professional I shouldn’t have written it and let the beans spill. Thankfully, the good bars were a happy lot. Now there is the other side of the story where bartenders sweat it out to delight their customers but are driven to the edge by the same guests. Here is what the Indian bartenders hate about their customers
There is no alcohol in my cocktail After all that alcohol that goes into making of an LIIT or such tall drinks, it is irritating for a bartender to hear complaints of less alcohol being poured. Please remember, the sweeter the cocktail the less is the perception of alcohol. Some bartenders for the customer’s sake or insistence pour that extra alcohol however it just doesn’t help the customer to be in control of their alcohol levels.
I will make my own drink
In a busy bar, customer’s often use their loyalty and recognition as a tool to pull out a bottle behind the bar and helping themselves with a drink. Imagine someone intruding into your space at work especially when the bartender’s are responsible to pay for alcohol shortages.
I love to Snap
Whistling, snapping one’s fingers and other such condescending behaviors to seek attention of a bartender certainly shows one’s upbringing or lack of one. Give respect and take respect, an adage still holds true.
I love to order after closing time
The last drinks were announced repeatedly but there will be a few customers who still want to order post closing time and they literally pester the gullible staff. Please remember the bartenders don’t go home as soon as the last customer leaves, they have their closing checklists and tasks to clean the bar and make it ready for the next day. Please be kind and stick to the timing, the bartender does have a life outside of work!
Am I running away?
When asked to clear the bills after a round of drinks at a busy bar, “Will pay it at the end, here is my credit Card.” is many a times the response. When the bartender insists, “Am I running away” is a certain response. Please remember you may not be a fraud, but there are enough ‘respectable looking people’ who come with stolen cards, cancelled cards with a plan to plunder as much in a given night. All such unpaid bills are often paid by the bartender from his salary. Next time, clear the bills and don’t be fussy.
Don’t you know I love free shots/discounts
A discount/ free shots/freebies etc which were a tool to delight the customer have become a norm these days. Alcohol is expensive and there are considerable costs to run a bar, if you get a discount great, you may wan’t to ask once, no harm; but please do not be persuasive and bothersome.
I want my drinks in 3 seconds
Drinks take time to make and a good bartender will always give you a good drink without shortcuts. Please be patient especially on a busy night, moreover if you see the bartenders trying their best.
I love a private bar counter
The bar counter may be a prime position to be at, but don’t be a jerk to block it during a busy night as there are other people trying to buy drinks, be a little more socially responsible.
I love to poke my nose!
Do not interrupt conversations between the bartender and a fellow guest. Everybody is trying to get their drinks; you will get your chance.
Come 2019 and we look to yet another vintage for the Indian wine industry with a hope of favourable conditions! 80% of the wine is made in the vineyard and the remainder in the winery with an able wine maker at the helm. Each year the conditions in the vineyard differ and the winemaker uses all the experience to make the best possible wine given the vintage. Here are the Indian red wines from 2018 which left an impression on us last year.
Reveilo Shiraz reserve - Rs 1245
From the family-owned co, this wine aged in new oak barrel showcased intense ripe fruit with sweetness from the oak. A slight touch of smoke and sweetness makes this wine alluring for the Indian palate.
Krsma Cabernet Sauvignon – Rs 1500
It is certainly one if India’s best wine export. This red has the strenghth, the balance and the finesse to woo the seasoned as much as the newbie’s palate. It is currently available in Bengaluru and Hyderabad.
Chene by Grover Zampa – Rs 1850
This tempranillo –Shiraz blend from Nashik sees the oak barrel for over a year and certainly needs decanting of atleast 30 minutes before you drink it. And yes, Chene means Oak in French. One of the best wines in India.
Sula Rasa Cabernet Sauvignon – Rs 1850
A French oak aged Cabernet made with grapes from select pockets of Dindori, Nashik is one of the most exclusive from the Sula portfolio. Rasa takes its name from the initials of Rajeev Samant, they say.
Sula Dindori Reserve Shiraz – Rs 1095
Dindori is one of the most revered plots in the Nashik viticulture scene and the the Shiraz from Sula has been a workhorse produce a good wine with Oak nuances at a avery good price point.
Vijay Amritraj Shiraz Cabernet Viognier – Rs 1395
Named after the Tennis great, the VA red impresses with its depth and elegance. This award winning wine going by its name is an absolute Ace.
Reveilo Sangiovese – Rs 745
Reveilo with its Italian winemaking connection launched the Sangiovese; a Tuscan grape variety back in 2010 an it has been popular amongst patrons for its easy drinking style with a refreshing acidity and fruit.
Are cocktails taking you for a ride?
The cocktail scene in the country is picking up however we are far away from even making a scratch on the world scene. The reasons being, not so knowledgeable customer, not so knowledgeable bar management and the third are the knowledgeable but unscrupulous businessmen. In the city there are very good VFM bars, there are very good luxury bars, there are average bars across price points and then there poor bars. The scariest of them of all are poor bars charging you a luxury price for all the frills around than the cocktail itself. What helps these bars fool you?
Solid Carbon or dry ice was originally used and still is to freeze things in the f&b context. The usage then extended to the creating a fog like effect in food displays and in todays dates it is rampantly being used for theatrics in cocktail and food presentations. The question is, does the smoke let the establishment charge you more? Also if the CO2 is coming touch with your drink, is the dry ice food grade? Lastly even if food grade dry ice is put in your individual drink, do ensure that it has vapourized completely as pieces of it can cause burns in your mouth.
This potent liquid with a potential to freeze a la minute is seemingly child’s play today as any person with a chef coat or a bartender’s attire is using it like mayo in a footlong. No wonder that a hapless victim’s gut was burnt on consuming a drink with liquid nitrogen somewhere in Gurgaon. At -196 degree Celsius it is to be treated as carefully as boiling water, if not more. Liquid nitrogen can enhance a cocktail or food experience but it is not the core of the food or drink. Why pay more for a gimmick?
Burgers in a mini truck, drinks out of a ceramic skull and other such presentations are great to catch ones attention but the point to ponder upon is; how are they cleaned? If you look at the crevices, no brush but only roaches and mould can reach there. Stay away from such glassware or ask the question… how do you clean them? Also in darker places, switch on your mobile torch and take a good look at the ‘train’ or ‘tractor’ that your food/drink was served in. You may be taken aback!
It is science meeting the art of cooking to create something wonderful but only if it is done right. With DIY molecular kits available, many are trying to get molecular to attract customers, but are they getting their act right!!! Next time you eating a sphere or a sphaghetti shot,ask yourself if you really enjoyed it and the taste or were you wowed by the term ‘molecular’. Most good bars have shunned this and gone back to basics with real fruit.
‘A monkey wielding a sword’ is the idiom that stands true for the usage of smoke guns today. The smoke from the gun is used to add that extra nuance to the drink but these young boys decimate it as there is no proper guidance. Most places use it as a gimmick than put it to real culinary use. It is all smoke and no fire.
These days with drives to cut down on sugar in soft drinks to packaged food, Cocktails can be offenders too. Many cocktail places lace their cocktails using cheap spirits with a variety of syrups, packaged juices and aerated drinks and these ticking sugar bombs will sooner or later grip you by your pancreas!
India is slowly waking up to the wine phenomenon, the single malt rush, the gin madness, the brew craze etc and Indian are going out than ever before and drinking with family and friends, with bosses and clients as drinking is gradually gaining acceptance as a social activity than a medium to go into oblivion after the daily struggles of life. However the aspect that still needs a second look is the one of knowledgeable drinking and this is where the moneyed brands take over the reins and people drink brands than experiences, be it wine or whisky.
We at The Happy High educate people on the art of drinking well and responsibly. We get people who are already drinking to savour their drinks with more authority and order one with aplomb. We curate workshops on wine, whisky, beer, cocktails and more for corporate India. These workshops work as great client engagement tool especially in the luxury scheme of things as much as it provides a pedestal to a young sales professional managing foreign markets to engage with his/her clients and close a deal over a glass of a fine Barolo or a 20 year old Islay. Beverage workshops also help make employee off-sites quirky, get the associates educated on the finer aspects in life and also make employee soirees memorable. With cocktail making competitions for example, the team coherence improves via a fun medium.
The aim of these workshops is different for different people, in some cases it is 4 hours of gyaan and in some, 45 minutes of masti. We offer options based on your need and our understanding of the audience based on our experiences. Give us shout on firstname.lastname@example.org for some spirited assistance at your next employee/client endeavour.
The Sirt Food Diet a book released in 2016 talks about a diet comprising food that activate Sirtuins. Sirtuins are proteins in the body which regulate metabolism and red wine is a part of the diet, it is speculated that singer Adele lost oodles by following the Sirt! Here are some pointers on wine and health.
Red Wine and Reservatrol
Red wine is often hailed as a healthy drink and that is true. Red wine contains the polyphone Reservatrol which is also found in peanuts and some berries and this reservatrol is what make the difference. As per a paper from the Oregon State University, Reservatrol which is found in grape skins is an antioxidant which absorbs free radicals and is known to help prevent coronary artery disease by increasing HDL Cholesterol (good cholesterol), helps mitigate risk of type 2 diabetes and help ease depression.
So is white wine not healthy?
Indeed it is, Tyrosols and Hyroxytyrosols both found in white wines are as per a research by the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry have been found to have similar effects on the improving cardiovascular health. A research says that European whites are found to be richer in both the antioxidants as mentioned above.
Wine and Weight!
On an average Cola has around 100 gms of sugar in a liter, packed juices over 100 gms and all dry wines less than 10 gms of sugar which make is around 2gms per glass that is less than half a tea-spoon as opposed to 5-6 in a serving of the above. Wine certainly doesn’t give you as many calories as other sugary drinks and sweet cocktails! Now speaking of role of wine in weight loss? Harvard Medical School endorses the Mediterranean diet for a healthy lifestyle which includes moderate wine consumption for long term benefits. As a per a co-authored study by researchers from three American universities , red wine helps burns fat , it is good news for people with weight issues.
Last words, moderate wine drinking constitute about 250 ml of 12% v/v wine per day for men and around 175 ml for ladies and anything over that will start another battle of keep your liver alive. Remember, one liver!
‘Country roads, take me home, to the place, I belong…. ’continuously played on my mind as we drove through sharp turns and hairpin bends in the region of Priorat, a 2 hour drive; down south from Barcelona. Priorat a wine region is like that buried treasure which was excavated and is now hogging the lime light and rightly so. I was on my first trip this summer only to leave happy high with my teeth stained with the big and bold reds. Not to forget my lunch with Alvaro Palacios at his winery in Gratallops drinking L’Ermita the most expensive wine from Spain and this one the 2014, going at a cool 800-1000 Euros a bottle.
Priorat lies in Tarragona, Southern Catalonia and it is flanked by Mont Sant mountain range in the North, the Figuera and the LLoar peaks in the west, Mollo mountains in the east and the south opens up to river Siurana. The region has a total area of around 17629 hectares of which only 1900 hectares is worked on by 576 grape growers. The terrer (terroir in French) with the highlight of Licorella, an easily breakable slate which forms the top soil is what the regions basks in. One of the only two DoCa s (highest ranked wine region) in Spain, Priorat’s wine making history actively began in the 12th century when the monks of the Carthusian order established their Priory in Scala Dei and ruled over seven villages, giving the region its name. These monks brought the knowledge of viticulture from the time in Provence France. Priorat wine continued to get popular and were exported all across Europe till Phylloxera struck in the 19th century. Vineyards were lost, the rugged terrain was then planted with nut trees, the region got depopulated and poverty beckoned! The good times are here and the region has seen a renaissance in the last 20 years. It being awarded the DoCa in 2006 was a major boost to the sheer quality of wines the terroir can produce.
95% of the wines made in the region are red with Garnacha or Grenache and Carinena or Carignan being the forerunners. Carignan gives wine body, coupled with astringency and high pigmentation and Garnacha is more suitable for fine, aromatic wines which are full bodied, have little colour and which are easily affected by oxygen. It is a popular grape variety for making “vins rancis” and “generosos” or old wines made using the solera method like in Jérez. In the last few years, other varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah have been introduced and have yielded good results. I witnessed it on tasting the Le Tercera 2014 from the house of Alvarez Duran of Porrera.
Priorat is divided into 12 villages and each with a different topography climatic influences and they are recognized by the term ‘Vi de Vila’ (village wines) and the rare ‘Vi de Finca’ (Single vineyard wine). The villages being, Bellmunt, Scaladei, Gratallops, El Lloars, El Morera, Poboleda, Porrera, Torroja, Villela Alta, Villela Baixa, Falset and Molar. Even ‘Torres’ a brand that is synonymous to Spanish wines in India have their winery in El Lloar and their Perpetual 2014 impressed.
Albeit the differences in the meso-climates, one of the few elements that helps the region to ripen the big reds and retain the flavours is the long ripening season caused by the diurnal temperature variance of more than 25 degree Celsius with night temperatures dropping to 12 and the morning racing to 40. The second being the bush-trained viticulture happening on tortuous and rocky terrain based on schist soils with many vineyards going at an incline of 60 degrees and hence the need of terracing. And lastly the low yield which can be as low as 300 Gms a vine is a result of old vines and poor soils thus yielding concentrated fruit and commanding a price.
I really hope to see Priorat wines in India soon, but price could be a deterrent. A certain ray of hope is Torres banking on its brand awareness to create a category. Until then on your next visit to Barcelona, take a day trip to Priorat amidst the ravines, rivers, steep vineyards and a lot of wines. If not for anything else, Spain better retain Catalunya for the mighty Priorat!
15 REDS from Priorat to try -
La Tercera 2014 – Alvarez Duran – Porrera
Finca Dofi 2014 – Alvaro Palacios – Gratallops
Petit Mas Sinen 2013 – Cellar Burgos Porta – Poboleda
1270 a vuit 2009 – Celler Hidalgo Albert – Poboleda
Los Torrents 2012 – Celler Pasanau – La Morera de Montsant
Porrera Vi de Vila 2014 - Celler Vall Llach – Porrera
Font de la Figuera 2014 – Clos Figueras – Gratallops
Clos Galena – Clos Galena – El Molar
Ferrer Bobet 2014 – Ferrer Bobet – Falset
GV5 2010 – Gratavinum – Gratallops
Mas Mallola – Marco Abella – Porrera
Cirerets 2014 – Mas Alta – La Vilella Alta
Doix 2013 – Mas Doix – Poboleda
L’expressio Del Priorat 2016 – Vinitum – Poboleda
Les Brugueres 2014 - La Conreria – Escaladei
Valentine ’s Day is here and it gives another reason for people to manifest their love. In many of the Continental cultures it still signifies the advent of spring however in the modern times Anglo-American culture connects the day to romantic love. And going out with your loved ones on a special day can’t go wrong. Here are some of the places I would prefer all year around for a cozy meal.
Romanos, J W Sahar
One of the most tastefully done restaurants in town, the Romano’s has the charm of a fine-dine with plush banquette seating, wine displays and of course top service whilst the upstairs has a very interactive bar making it a good space for a pre or post dinner tipple. With Chef Zorzoli at the helm, you will see a different/modern side of Italian cooking.
Good Wife, BKC Bandra
This is a high energy cocktail space with crafted food. Tucked in the corporate hub of BKC, the Good Wife is not a space for a quiet fine-dine dinner. Good wife is casual with a great cocktail culture and comforting food with cuisine spanning Asian to Continental, no Indian though. Gastro-pubbing could be the new Valentine thing!
Shizusan, Phoenix Mills
After a round of Valentine shopping at the Phoenix, this Asian Bistro is great sport for some quality sushis, dimsums and other Asian Fare. The wooden décor blends in the experience and the drinks menu with Asia inspired cocktails complement to make the evening gastromantic!
Kode, Kamala Mills
This bar and eatery boasts of a 130 plus whiskies and 30 plus gins on the menu and I would start my evening with the latter and tonic and end with dram of the former. The food is modern presentation and multi-cuisine and you will love it. Beware the music levels go up as the might progresses, for a quieter dinner with conversations, you must be on your dessert course by 9pm.
A restaurant by the beach this one serves European fare with some brilliant sunset-views if you are there in time. They have an open-air and a indoor section, cover charges could apply on busy nights. Food and wine is my call for Estella.
The restaurant emerged in the top few of the Indian f&b scene at some recent awards and their food, drinks and service certainly vouch for it. Food with attention to detail, sustained cocktail (g&t) culture and a robust wine scene are the hallmarks of this place. Be prepared to shell out a lot more.
South of Vindhyas, Orchid Hotel
With the sitar and table playing the background, this restaurant helmed by Chef Bala for the last two decades will enthrall you with its food from the south India. In a traditional Mangalorean home like setting this place is the one you can enjoy your Valentine day with your family with conversations, food and music.
When was it the last time you tipped your dentist or your accountant?? Of course they also offered service but you didn’t seem the need to. Why? Did you feel they are as rich as you or perhaps richer? Did you think they might take offence as they are ‘professionals’? So many questions playing on my mind, I am sure they are playing on yours too now. To make things easy, when did you tip your waiter last?? If you did tip the waiter then why not tip an accountant?
Tipping these days euphemistically called the service charge is my opinion the cause of certain unsaid divide or classification of the society based on profession. Certain professions like in this case waiters or bartenders rely a lot on their tip for their day to day living; they yearn for those at the end of the day or month. This tipping culture in India I feel strips the profession of the self-respect that each profession should carry. Tipping is done more out of sympathy aka charity than it is out of delight considering tipping is applicable only in certain professions and those are not preferred work options for people.
Restaurants may argue about a mandatory service charge as they want their employees to get paid for service, of course I do not deny that but isn’t it their job and aren’t they getting a salary to do it??? Why should a customer pay that extra 10% over host of other taxes?? If the organizations think their associates deserve more; then why not hike up the menu by 10% and distribute amongst staff as sales incentives. You wouldn’t want to leave them to the mercy of the customers, you would want to become that company that cares and respects their employees.
On the flipside, baksheesh raj also affects the levels of service; customers receive it based on their looks, the way they dress, the color of their skin and more and the hotel or restaurant associates are more likely to cling to those who are more likely to tip based on their naïve judgment and this is potentially harmful for the brand. So many restaurants where I feel foreigners get better treatment that their Indian counterparts purely based on an assumption of the former’s propensity to tip.
No job is menial and each job should be perceived with equal respect. Tipping or no there are enough divides and tipping just adds to getting a particular profession that ‘sympathetic’ angle. Pays in hospitality are low and given there is no self-respect too, not many people want to associate with it and if this persists the industry shall struggle to get skilled workforce to join then and this will take the standard of the entire industry down.
If you are an organization that wants to make a difference, then start sales incentives and have a no tipping policy. You will be the change!
As we peer into the Celtic twilight to figure the history of today’s whisky, we realize that it is as cloudy and misty as the Scottish highlands. The modern history of the liquid which goes back 600 years tells us that it all began in Ireland and then travelled to the Isles of Scotland and then the mainland. The word whisky derives from the Irish ‘Uisce beatha’ or Gaelic ‘Uisge Beatha’ both meaning ‘water of life’. This World Whisky Day celebrated every year on the third Saturday of May, here are my five whisky picks you should try if you haven’t already….. Just gives us Indians another reason to drink our favorite dark spirit!
Blender’s Pride - India:
A very popular brand which uses the fashion route for surrogate advertising is a blend of Indian grain spirit and Scotch malt. Considering the molasses and ENA (Extra Neutral Alcohol) whiskies that India is infamous for, this brand does great justice and in fact is good alternative for many blended Scotch whiskies. Do not undermine it considering its measly price of Rs 1150 a bottle, try this whisky blind with your imports and you will know.
Woodford Reserve – USA:
The bottle stands out amongst bourbon whiskies and the liquid doesn’t fail to impress. Aged in barrels made in their own cooperage this elixir shows nuances of prunes and figs with the freshness of orange, it is well rounded but more crisp than luscious.
Wolfburn – Scotland:
This is mainland Scotland’s most northerly distillery and it is built 350m away from the ruins of a 19th century distillery from where it gets It name; making the Wolfburn one of the youngest too. The whisky is aged in ex-Islay cask which gives the dram that smoke and the maritime character is induced by proximity to the sea, a factor often seen in highland malts by the coast.
Paul John Bold – India:
This one is making India proud. This Single Malt from Goa is available in over 20 countries and scores over 94 points in the whisky bible. At 40 ppm peat this smoky whisky is likely to impress those who love their Islay malts. It is a perfect blend for making Penicillin and sours too. It is available in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Goa, Chandigarh and now Delhi.
Chivas Regal 18 – Scotland:
‘Get me two bottles of Chivas on your way back from your trip abroad’ is a common request I am sure many of us are familiar with. However this is for the 12 year variant, have you ever tried the 18 year old elixir?? A rich liquid reminiscent of orange peels, vanilla, sweet spice and dried stone fruits will surely get you indulging.
Whiskies or any other spirit which has taken that long to age demands our time to be enjoyed and that too very slowly. I say a small shot of aged whisky should go for 30 minutes, sip and bask in the wooded glory for sometime before the next sip. A neat dram of whisky at around 15 degree Celsius is the perfect shot and if you think otherwise then drown it in milk, soda or whatever, you are the paying consumer and you have a choice to have it your way!
In a room full of corporate honchos at the members-only Chambers at the Taj Mahal Hotel, Bruce Cakebread the owner of Cakebread Cellars, Napa Valley showcased his effort; his wines, one after the other as the top brass of the city enjoyed a sit down meal and spoke about their Napa sojourns and of course the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon. At another august gathering on the same evening at Yuuka the Japanese restaurant at the St Regis, patrons enjoyed a glimpse of Robert Mondavi wines , the institution in Napa which revolutionized the American wine industry and Mondavi thus got to be known as the Father of American wine. Is this the beginning of the American wine story in India, I thought to myself!
Despite America as a country more recognizable in India than some of the below mentioned its wine failed to find space on shelves and if it did find place on the wine list they moved very slow. Why? In the recent past American wines were represented by Iconic brands like Beringer, Stag’s Leap, Stag’s Leap Wine cellars, Cakebread etc and consumers weren’t ready to pay as much for an American wines as much they were for the French and Italian. It is changing now albeit slowly! Indians are slowly starting to wake up to wines in general and the last six years have been crucial in the overall wine culture growing. I accredit this to the many Indian wineries who have been making superior quality wines every passing year and also the top importers and modern retail who ensure that wines are reaching us in good condition, it wasn’t the case in the last decade. In the 21st century the French and Italian wines ruled followed by an era of inexpensive Australian and then the Chile, South African and the Argentinean wines. Is it time for America?
Kendall Jackson from Sonoma and Chateau St Michelle from Washington state have been trying to take a share of the market but have been able to only scratch the surface; below which rule the Jacob’s Creek and the Two Oceans of the world. As much as we need might of the likes of Bruce Cakebread to tell us about the purity of Napa so do we need the presence of an Export manager of a commercial cos to tell us stories about 50 million bottles a year! People may say that I’m advocating ‘2 buck chucks’ but the point remains that money and taste can’t be equated and an option should be provided at every price point and America has those options. I sipped on a Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi Chardonnay paired with the Avocado Tartare and thoughts of my Napa visit enthralled as I viewed the Mumbai skyline from the 38th floor of the St Regis!
P.S: Look up ‘Judgement of Paris’ and you will know what happened in 1976
On November 22, 2013 the Australian trade mark office quashed the European Commission’s appeal to register Prosecco as a GI produce coming from Italy as the members of the Winemaker’s federation of Australia rejoiced. Had it not been the case, I woudn’t have relished a glass of the crisp Prosecco sparkling from King Valley, Australia on a hot Mumbai afternoon.
De Bortoli,Australia’s second largest family owned wine co’s wines were unveiled in Mumbai over a Yum Cha replete with wines and devoid of tea. The afternoon began with the glass of Prosecco (Rs 2650), it gave a refreshing start whilst adding enough fuel for conversations to begin. Prosecco & Oz!! Darren Blood, Export Manager for APAC and emerging markets wasn’t surprised and soon put the prying minds to rest. A refreshing Pinot Grigio from Riverina (Rs 1850) soon followed with some truffled edamame money bags.
De Bortoli wines comes with a bigger portfolio this time, the mouthful Shiraz from Heathcote;the Woodfired (rs 3500) , Riorret the silky single vineyard Yarra valley Pinot Noir (Rs 8000) and for a fascinating end to the afternoon was ‘The Noble One’, a botrytis Semillon (Rs 5950 375 ml) bursting with dried apricots, orange zest and citrus notes with bracing acidity. De Bortoli wines are imported in the country by Prestige wines and spirits popular for their Spanish heavy weight Torres. Hope that De Bortoli wines, family-owned with an Italian legacy resonate with the Indian wine lovers and are able to make a mark too!
After the Andersen series Flipsydee launched Chateau Timberlay, Bordeaux wines from the house of Robert Giraud at a magnifique soiree at the Sofitel Hotel, Mumbai.
In an evening of music, gourmet food, glimpse of cabaret artists from the Lido Paris and art; the wines from Chateau Timberlay flowed to enchant. The venue Hriday was transformed into a beautiful French garden with a majestic replica of Arc de Triomphe in the entrance. Cremant de Bordeaux, Bordeuax Blanc and two variants of the rouge were unveiled. The wines start at Rs 2990. Chateau Timberlay an estate from the 14th century when the French were ruled by the British takes its name from the strong Atlantic winds that would knock down trees enroute ,'lay the timbers' as the Brits put it. Nonethless the Brits were the one spread the Claret word around and this wine is available in over 75 countries. To Claret, Cheers!
Flypsydee one of India's popular wine and spirit importers held the first tasting of the H.C. Andersen’s fairy tales inspired wines from the House of Robert Giraud a popular name in Bordeaux, France.
The series comprises a range of wines from the Languedoc region in Southern France with the labels inspired by Hans Christian Andersen the world famous writer of popular fairy tales such as “The Little Mermaid”, “The Wild Swans”, and “The Chimney Sweeper”. As a tribute to his work, Robert Giraud created 6 varietals and assigned a reputed Danish artist Pia Kryger Lakha to create illustrations for the 6 corresponding labels. From the fairy tales range three wines are now available in India Chardonnay Columbard, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. At the price of Rs 2390 a bottle the reds are quite a steal,Cabernet Sauvignon was our choice!
Ventisquero, the 5th largest family owned wine company in Chile makes a comeback into India with a more affordable under Rs 1500 Clasico range. A cool climate Sauvignon Blanc, Chile’s classic Carmenere and their approachable Cabernet Sauvignon are now available in India and are imported by Aspri spirits.
Vina Ventisquero started in 1998, despite being based in Maipo valley they make wines from grapes grown across the wine growing region as far as the arid Atacama Desert up north and the best part, their source is 1800 hectares of their own vineyards or some they rent. Ventisquero’s first stint in India was with their Grey range didn’t seemingly go well because of prohibitive pricing due to taxation and adding it to it was the perception of premium Chilean wine; which is yet to sink in . Mr Nicolas Kowalski, Area Sales Director –Asia of Vina Ventisquero on his maiden India trip echoed the same thoughts, ‘We are restarting our India story and this time with our Clasico range. Given the taxation and the market readiness we would be exploring Grey and the premium ranges for the duty-free segment. We have more in our portfolio like the Pangea, a collaboration of Felipe Tosso our winemaker and John Duval the ex-Chief of Penfolds . We will unleash them gradually if the market responds well. At the moment our focus is to let people explore a good Chilean wine, the Clasico range”
‘This Father’s Day the perfect gift for your dad is whisky’ would be one of the many ads that might pop on your social pages. I am sure that one’s whisky loving father is happy anytime you get him a bottle of liquid sunshine. Moreover many even would like the same brand over years! So this Father’s day why don’t you help him open his horizons and get him know more about whisky, a different elixir with a different history, the Bourbon. Perhaps this will stay with him longer than that bottle of whisky …
Bourbon whisky was named after the Bourbon, one of the original counties of Kentucky when the latter was still a part of Virginia. The early settlers in the 1700s, the Scots, Northern Irish, the Germans and the Americans from the east (who were used to rye) quickly understood the positives of producing a spirit based out the native-corn considering corn was in plenty and difficult to transport due to bulk. This corn spirit transported in wooden barrels down the Ohio and the Mississippi Rivers to New Orleans aged during the voyage and was appreciated at the final destination and began to be called the ‘Bourbon Whisky’. In the 1780s Reverend Elijah Craig; the father of Bourbon whiskey took a step further to char the barrels from inside which today is responsible for the distinctive nose and color of a Bourbon. Now why did he char it has its own line-up of lore. Bourbon is now recognized or believed to be the only ‘native American spirit’ and can be made anywhere in the United States.
Now what does it take to be a Bourbon!
Minimum 51% corn
The Mash bill as they call it is the proportion of grains the distiller uses to make the whisky. To be called Bourbon the whiskey has to contain at least 51% corn. Different distillers would adjust the mash bill based on the nuances they wish to achieve. For example the Woodford Reserve uses 18% Rye in its blend which lends spicier notes to the finished product and in Bulleit it is 28% which make it spicier. The other grain used is Barley and some Bourbon distilleries are tried their hand at malt whiskies too.
Aged in charred new oak barrels
‘Straight’ is the word you need to look for on the label. When it says straight Bourbon it has to age for a minimum of 2 yrs in charred new American oak barrels and it can just go in for a day for it to be called only Bourbon. Bulleit has no age statement but is typically aged between 6-8 yrs and so is Buffalo trace for the same average period. Some distilleries also experiment with different oak influences like the Maker’s Mark 46 which sees French Oak Staves for that French elegance.
Whilst Bourbon can be made anywhere in the USA, 95% of it comes from Kentucky. The iron free water which is rich in calcium and magnesium is most preferred for distillation and that has kept the industry flourishing over the last 200 years. Jack Daniel’s, you finally hear it! JD is a Tennessee whisky which starts its life as Bourbon and then undergoes a process of Maple Charcoal filtration also called the Lincoln County process which finally renders it to be a Tennessee whiskey. To be a Tennessee it has to be made in Tennessee unlike bourbon. So JD is not a Bourbon!
To be termed Bourbon it has to be bottled at more than 40% alcoholic strength and can go into the barrel at no more than 62.5%. This lower strength of alcohol while going into the barrel is to ensuring slow and steady aging than leeching of flavour with a high alcoholic spirit. The Maker’s Mark Cask Strength is bottled at 54-57% ABV (alcohol by volume)
No Caramel, No Colour!
‘Straight bourbon whiskey’ doesn’t allow the use of any additives, just water. When it says only Bourbon then it does allow a small percentage of additives to enhance the liquid.
Now all of the above being a given for bourbons, distilleries try and differentiate themselves with the shape of stills they use, pot stills in addition to a column, the location of the warehouses, years in aging and of course the water source, these contribute to the final elixir in the bottle. I will leave you with a few images from our recent Kentucky visit and some brands to lay hands on your next visit to the USA.
Pappy Van Winkle
Makers Mark 46
Woodford Double Oaked
(The last two also make fantastic Rye whiskies; I will leave them for some other day)
P.S: Use of Whisky or Whiskey is completely at your discretion. Nobody cares as long as the whiskeee is good!
wine blog, cocktail blog, whisky blog, beverage blog