Crazy concoctions

June 16, 2010

The only book on cocktails i’ve ever read is Happy Hours, Bhaichand Patel’s opus published by Penguin. Flipping through its pages, which are a veritable riot of colours, i was surprised that a mere compilation of heady concoctions could be as heady a read.

Pina colada, a rum-based cocktail, which is easy to whip up. (Scaredy_Kat/Flickr)

I hastily jotted down the formulae of the easiest of the potions — the classic Pina Colada, Bloody Mary and Cuba Libre included — before returning the book to a colleague.

Going through my notebook the other day, i started pondering on the merits of cocktails that are easy to make at home. So why spend your entire salary on, say, apricot brandy, campari, daiquiri natural or dry vermouth, and strain exotic and erotic-sounding drinks such as the Asian Hurricane or Buttery Nipple to impress guests?

Considering that most of us are not exactly expert bartenders, it’s wise to stick to the basics and then, if required, amaze the guests with a clever permutation of whatever ingredients you have in the fridge. Provided you also apply a bit of commonsense.

The most basic of the twists that i give to drinks at home is adding cloves, slit vertically, to the cheapest of whiskies and turning them around into pegs that can be mercifully sipped neat.

I smoothen a super-strong beer or into what they call a shandy by adding Limca, a pinch of rock salt and a dash of lime to it.  

Or when i run out of Sprites and Mountain Dews and am locked up in the house with a vodka that tastes like industrial waste, a dash of Tabasco sauce and a few drops of preserved sea gherkin brine — despite sounding outlandish — retrieves the drink.

A $3,000-cocktail, the Sapphire Martini contains Curacao, Sapphire gin, and dry vermouth. Instead of the usual olive at the bottom, you get a blue sapphire and diamond earrings!

Talking of outlandish drinks, i had served a relative a drink i christened ‘cold tea-whisky’ last Holi solely with the desire to play to the gallery. I refrigerated strained black tea (boiled with a spoon of sugar in it) for several hours, packed a highball glass (a tall glass, a must for cocktails) with crushed ice, poured the chilled tea into it, topped the glass up with a peg of whisky and threw a lime wedge into it.

A colleague whose pad i used to earlier share is in love with a cocktail that’s as tasty as it is easy to make. Returning from work at night, nothing was as relaxing as pouring a peg each of Bacardi white and Smirnoff in a martini glass, liberally adding vanilla ice cream to the spirit, giving it a good stir and topping it with a cherry. It’s another thing my flatmate used to enjoy films such as Predator and Scream while nursing the potent cocktail!

Once we mischievously replaced the vodka and rum with two shots of feni and served it to a friend known for his prowess to hold his drink. After one glass came another. Our friend, taking in by the “heavenly taste of ice cream in white rum” — the vanilla having completely negated the repulsive odour of feni — gulped four pegs of super strong cashew spirit in what must have been just an hour and fell flat on the floor, literally, and passed out!

On second thoughts, it’s best to steer clear of such pranks and try to make a drink look good, palatable and less lethal. I offered a friend rum and coke (Cuba Libre) the other day but he said he had had enough of it and instead wanted a colourful rum-based drink. I polished off his glass — i never seem to tire of the classic drink — while making him, what i named on the spur ‘Blood in my Glass’.

Fill up a highball glass with ice, a peg of Bacardi white and Sprite. Just before serving, splash in about 25 ml of Cranberry Breezer, but do not stir or shake and gently float a few mint leaves. The effect of a red spill in the drink makes it look artistic. Red wine instead of Breezer will look as dramatic and impart an interesting twist to the taste.

Cuba Libre, my favourite, needs just rum, cola and lime. (Guillebot/Flickr)

While there’s no end to improvising and throwing up a new cocktail each weekend, one needs to visualize and anticipate the taste of the final product so that it doesn’t end up like it did when a friend — then in his early youth — stumbled on a bottle of brandy, a jar of honey, a tumbler of milk and a bowl of fennel-seed soaked water.

Now a chastened man, he steers clear of crazy concoctions and religiously nurses his single malt with galouti kebabs every Saturday!

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6 Responses to “Crazy concoctions”

  1. Sharmi said

    Hmmm. No wonder, whenever I open the fridge I often find some or the other masala missing….so, this is what you’ve been doing!!!
    But, doesn’t matter…Seeing you whipping up like crazy is so much fun 🙂

  2. netdhaba said

    Wish you could sample a cocktail or two 😦
    But no problem, i can also make some mocktails 🙂
    Thank you for your comment

    • Sharmi said

      Yes yes, i did try that tomato juice thingie you made. It was bliss. Okie next time I want a mocktail that is teal and purple in colour. Coz those two hues are in vogue now. Start hunting then 🙂

  3. Abhi said

    Mr D, you have whipped up a heady concoction that’s as smooth as a peg of the super expensive Laphroaig single malt which I had the good fortune to taste recently!
    Although I am a whiskey junkie (can’t say single malt because can’t always afford one!) after reading your treatise on conjuring cocktails I am inclined to experiment now!
    But I’ll keep my single malt and galauti kababs handy in case I make a mess of it:)

  4. netdhaba said

    @ Sharmi: The tomato thingie is Virgin Mary, where the vodka is replaced by Sprite/Seven Up.
    Teal and purple? Hmm…
    Where’s my muse? 🙂

  5. netdhaba said

    @Abhi: Thank you for your lavish comments.
    I will happily initiate you to the colourful world of cocktails if you kindly walk into my humble hut with Mr Walker in tow 🙂

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