This article comes right before we enter the period of abstinence which will open up to the season of unbridled festivities. This affords me a chance and ample time to share some experiences that you can stock up on for the post-Dussehra, pre-Diwali period, starting now.
This year, we have so many pre-mixed cocktail drinks making a debut, the category has become a serious one to reckon with. Sure, you wouldn’t want your favourite bar to adapt these, but they are great for use at home, where they can cut prep time and ensure consistency. Starting from the point of least effort, Mr Jerry’s is a top-notch brand of premixed drinks (alcohol included), where one needn’t do anything more than pour them out into a fancy glass and add a creative garnish. Some versions are a bit too sweet for my palate but the Espresso Martini was fabulous and the Negroni was well-balanced and rightly potent.
Next, I tried Jimmy’s Cocktails, and here we need to add the spirit ourselves. These allow one more leeway for play. So although they are pretty sweet, one can adjust that by using the appropriate amount in a drink. I liked the Margarita and Bloody Mary mix the most followed by the Mango Chilli Mojito. The rest felt like they needed a bit more body. But, as mixers go, they were still creative and diverse enough to please all palate.
And in case you are trying to find ways to cut back on the calories (which I find is a great way to cut back doubly on the fun element but hey, who’s judging, right?), try seltzers. Now American calls them hard-seltzers, but no matter how you call them, they still imply a fizzy drink with some (fruity) flavour and alcohol. These can be great with a simple spirit base or can be used to spike up already potent drinks with some extra flavour and an accompanying kick. Pursue is possibly the best brand I have seen in this space—not only are they beautifully packaged but even their flavours are well-appointed for Indian palates and deftly made to show balance.
But for those who aren’t given to such “puerile tinkering” and wish to keep things neat (or maybe on the rocks), I advise trying the Teacher’s 50 Limited Edition pack. This was first launched in 1997 to commemorate India’s 50th Independence Day and this new iteration is a bold and festive encapsulation of that spirit of celebration, pun intended. The liquid is the stuff that has ruled Indian palates (and jokes around Teacher’s Day) since a long time and this new avatar is visually evermore covetable. So, whether for gifting or lining up on your home shelf, this ticks both boxes. For those who may not have tried it yet (what, why?) well, it is a lovely rounded blend, showing notes ranging from sweet malt and to smoky peat with fruity layers in between—quite a palate pleaser really.
And before I sign this off, a quick word on cigars. I will do a full feature on them soon but a short shout out for Andre Garcia, which is a homegrown brand of cigars that blossomed as the brainchild of Abhik Roy. His passion for and knowledge of cigars is second to none and thus he has painstakingly put together a collection of some truly formidable sticks which have exquisite composition (with leaves that were aged from 5 to 15 years!) and still come for a fraction of the price. I am not saying cigar smoking is for everybody but if one is curious enough then this brand is a great place to start.
Based on our exchanges, I’d recommend the Shortie (for a quick smoke), the Pigtail (for a well-rounded experience), and the Churchill Maduro (for something robust and distinct). There’s enough data out there to educate you on how to cut and light up one. Smoking a cigar is a lot like golf, you don’t have to be extremely good at them; just indulging in them can make you look suave. So, this winter, definitely try and mix things up in your social circle and see how it goes. But first, let’s prepare for some much-needed abstinence.
The writer is a sommelier