There is something nostalgic and hope-inducing about new year’s eve; sitting on the cusp while reminiscing and at the same time being reminded of new horizons to come. Every year, as part of this column, I peer into the drinking glass, preferably the bottom of one – one that has been emptied by me, of course — and I try and think of what we imbibed and what tipples to look forward to in the coming year. Here goes:
Bye Bye 2017
We drank some great wines from Chile, we had exceptional bottles from France and Spain too. The spirits market saw many new whiskies, but it was mostly gin that was ubiquitous. And then there was beer, especially some good stuff like White Rhino. Thirsty is decently quaffable. Bira continues to be the millennials’ beverage of choice and Simba tries hard to catch up with it.
We also toasted the launch of the book, The Indian Sprit, and if you haven’t got this World Gourmand award-nominated read yet, get it now!
Gin will continue to lead from the front as we get ready for some premium Monkey 47 action that will enter our market shortly. Greater Than and Hapusa (Sanskrit for juniper) will be two unique Indian gins that I have much enjoyed in a preview and wish them success as they ready to launch in the coming year. (With so much great gin, some good tonic is much needed.) I am also hoping to see local spirits like Desmondji’s Agave spirit in states other than Goa.
I wish there is more rosé proliferation as people open up to this style of wine without deriding it for its light-hearted hue. India makes some good ones (York, Grover-Zampa and Fratelli remain top picks), in both still and sparkling versions.
Speaking of sparkling, our love affair with the fizz shall continue unabated, not just for Champagne or Prosecco, but extend to Cava, Cap Classique and just about any good crisp version. I love how Chandon keeps reinvigorating the bubbly market with new ideas and am currently much in adoration of their new packaging created by designer Manish Malhotra.
Cocktails have had a dream run for the last few years, and, thanks to some very capable Indian bartenders (or should it be mixologists?) shining on the global platform, we are drinking just as well as they do in New York.
All in all, hopes and spirits shall both run high. The only constant downer remains our lethargic system, from the burdening taxation to the nonsensical rules around who gets to sell what and how, never mind the appeals to instate nationwide prohibition that keep surging every time another parliamentarian decides to draw some attention, mostly to his inadequacies to serving his/her post. We still don’t have an excise policy in the capital for 2017, and by April 2018, we’ll need a new one. I hope, against my instincts, that the department of excise and customs gets thoroughly revised with rules that are, rather than an apologetic appeal to archaic wisdom, more in line with the needs of these metropolitan times. More immediately, for new year’s eve, I wonder what we shall nurse in our glasses to usher in the new year. Well, spirit or brew, whatever you wish to go with, make sure you sip and savour, not gulp and guzzle, and in either case, don’t get behind the wheel!
See you on the other side.
Magandeep Singh is a sommelier