Between sips: Here’s to all things Christmassy

It’s that time of the year when it is considered okay to pack in a few extra calories and hide them all underneath layers of warm clothing

Shunya cola remains the best cola to try outside of the mainstream brands. Another category I recently I experimented with pre-mixed cocktail bases where one just needs to add the spirit and, voilà, Bob’s your uncle.
Shunya cola remains the best cola to try outside of the mainstream brands. Another category I recently I experimented with pre-mixed cocktail bases where one just needs to add the spirit and, voilà, Bob’s your uncle.

It’s december and the time is nigh for all things Christmassy. This simply means it’s okay to pack in a few extra calories and hide them all underneath layers of warm clothing. This is not just a lame excuse; it’s tradition, and this is the most honourable form of an excuse, if there ever was one.

I have been busy tinkering with a few things, and this is what I have thought of them.

Cocktail premixes are growing fast. It seems that young entrepreneurial India is in some drinks race to bottle everything and anything they can dream of. These include gins, whiskeys, rums, mezcal and even non-alcoholic sips. While we have done well with the former stuff, the mixers space is, to me, utterly crowded and with few worthy choices.

Shunya cola remains the best cola to try outside of the mainstream brands. Another category I recently I experimented with pre-mixed cocktail bases where one just needs to add the spirit and, voilà, Bob’s your uncle.

The ones by Tipsy Tiger are brilliant and Jimmy’s Cocktails are pretty decent too. Another brand which one can maybe consider is Lazy Cocktails & Co. Outside of these, the rest, if any, are yet to show up on my radar of recommendation.

While the rest of the country has been partying away, Delhi’s liquor vends are just opening and most of the pricing seems to be on the positive side. The best sips I have had in recent times would be Belenkaya vodka (13 times charcoal filtered for unmatched purity), Wild Turkey bourbon (classic creme brulée notes with a mellow mouthfeel), and Patrón tequila (fruity and vibrant, there is simply none better and believe me, I have tried).

I also like beers (no matter the season) and the best of the season are Simba’s wheat and stout, Six Fields Belgian wheat, Kotsberg Pils, Bira white, and one I never tire of, White Rhino IPA.

Wellness teas are becoming another big draw. I hope one day people wake up and realise that there is nothing as detoxing your body because of their were toxins in your body, then either your kidneys need a serious looking at or else you are already 6 feet under. What we really have are placebos which make us feel like the are detoxing us.

Nevertheless, two nice tea brands I tried recently were Kayos Immunity tea and Octavius Elixir Collection’s Calming Wellness Tea and am glad none of them claimed detox as their USP. That said, my favourite cuppa remains from TWG which makes what I can only liken to being the caviar of teas.

I have just returned from a wellness retreat, Vana, near Dehradun, and if you haven’t heard of it, it’s mostly because they weren’t really talking it up. To say it’s super luxury would be obvious but still lacking.

Instead I will say that their extreme level of attention to detail and meticulous persnickety-ness about the smallest of details left even the blasé and generally-dismissive-of-all-things Virgo that I am stunned and more than pleasantly surprised in the most positive sense. There, that sounds about right.
Nothing else that I have visited in our country which is currently run by the bigger and more established hospitality brands even comes close to this level of perfection and I guess it does take breaking out of the corporate cookie cutter mould of standard operating procedures to be able to serve up this level of care and hospitality.

If you can make the time, this is where you should head.

The writer is a sommelier

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