We have more events around the drinks space in the span of a few wintery months than we do the rest of the year. Here is what has been keeping my liver busy.
White Walker: For all those who felt scoffed at for taking their whiskies with ice, well your time has come. The world’s beverage behemoth Diageo has put forth a special edition blended whisky, The White Walker, that they recommend you to stick in a freezer and have absolutely bone-chilled! It shows more caramel and sweet candied fruit (touch of ginger perhaps) and all these notes aren’t subdued by cooling down the dram. At their launch, they poured forth generously, that, too, from a bar made entirely of ice, and the limited allocation for India might already be running tight; so don’t waste time if you wish to acquire one. I’d tell you all about the special secret message on the bottle that appears once you chill it but am not that much of a GoT fan, sorry.
Hennessy and Classics: Cognac has been trying hard to fight its way back to the top. That yellow louse which decimated French vineyards didn’t do Cognac any favours, instead helping Scotch find a place of prominence in places where it mattered. Since then, it’s been almost 150 years but Cognac plays a distant second fiddle to the malt beverage. Now, with Hennessy upping the ante by revising classic cocktails and replacing the malt with their Cognac, I think they could be on to something here. For starters, being a grape spirit, it always tastes riper and this can work well with drinks like Old Fashioneds and Sours. I tried some such mixes made with Hennessy VS and it worked splendidly well for me and I can see myself ordering them at the bar next time. And of course let’s not discount the posh quotient that comes with telling the bartender to make you a classic brown spirit mix but with Cognac instead!
Champagne maker Visit: I am skimming over this one way too fast but it is not everyday that chapagne makers come to town. During a recent visit of Moët’s winemaking team Amine Ghanem, the young sprightly chap shared an insightful few things about the world’s largest champagne house. Now, to be true, it is common for many of us to scoff at them for being too “commercial” but frankly, as a sommelier, and someone who works in the trade, to be able to churn out that many bottles of bubbly (read, millions) and yet to maintain quality to such precise and exacting standards that each of them is worth holding for a few years is simply astounding. Also, while they may not be the connoisseurs’ brand of choice, they have managed to find a taste that appeals to the majority out there. That said, many a self-proclaimed wine-lover has been known to enjoy a bottle of Moët profusely when it was served blind to them so let’s reserve judgments on such.
Fig & Maple: If their food wasn’t reason enough to visit them, it is now also impacting the capital F&B scene with their unique range of gin infusions (I counted around three dozen if I remember, in all sobriety) which is giving Delhi gin lovers an experience akin to visiting Willy Wonka-land! Among the many, the curry leaf and raw mango managed to be memorably imaginative and yet balanced in flavour. Let’s see what they concoct for Xmas and NYE.
Malt Convoy: Since whisky is special to us in a way that mother’s milk is special to life, the recently hosted malt convoy by Karina “Gigglewater” Aggarwal was quite a fun event.
The lovely lady led us through a series of malts from the house of Diageo, tasting them not just neat but also mixing it up into curious cocktails all of which sat pretty well with the food that was served alongside (Yes, the food, for me, were the sides.) The Pullman made for a gorgeous backdrop to host this event and the ‘convoy’ bit of the evening was brought into play as they led us around the various outlets of the hotel where a new malt (or malts) and food paired course awaited us. Such “toil” I am always up for.
All in all, the year ends on a spirited, soaked note. In spite of all that needs to be corrected with the laws that govern our liquor, for the moment, let’s just be thankful for the glasses that we hold and whatever they hold within. Raise them high, make a toast and drink till the ball drops!
(The writer is a sommelier)