I am not a very sentimental man, so I have never cared much for Valentine’s Day. But, since the perception is that I’m fairly knowledgeable about drink and food, people much younger than I am do pick my brain on the type of alcohol they should quaffing on V-Day. On such occasions, I have but one answer: have Champagne.
Champagne, if you ask me, is as much a part of romance as cold mountain air, cooking together and cheesy pet names. If it were up to me, I’d have it every day irrespective of my relationship status, and when it comes to champagne I always prefer Dom Perignon. But Doms of any kind are hideously expensive — I know a much married man who drinks wine with his wife and champagne with his mistress — and for those of you who are looking forward to a cosy weekend at home, I’d suggest something from Chandon, Moet Henessy’s sparkling wine, what is made in India.
Chandon makes two pretty engaging sparking wines: the Brut and the Brut Rose, and I’d recommend you pick the latter, since the regular Brut could come across as too dry (read, not sweet) for the palate. Another drink that I love and comes highly recommended by master bartender Shatbhi Basu is prosecco. Prosecco is Italian sparkling wine (unlike champagne, which is a blend of many grapes, this wine is made from just one grape, the glera) that is fresh, fruity and, as importantly, pretty affordable. The last I checked they were a bunch of proseccos available here, most of them priced between Rs 1,500 and Rs 2,000.
On the other hand, if you are into wine, my vote goes to Fratelli. Their Sangiovese Bianco is made from grapes that are grown on rocky soil – the winery is located near Solapur, in Maharashtra – and strategically placed to avoid too much sunlight. The end result is a delicate, light-bodied wine that is probably among the best whites you can get in India. For reds, especially if you are into red meat, try the dry, intense Four Seasons Barrique Reserve Shiraz.
I like my drink uncomplicated, and so, I’m not into cocktails a lot, except, of course, the classics that usually don’t have too many layers. But, if you are thinking of heading to a restaurant with your significant other, I’d reckon you’d also be opting for a cocktail or two to go with your meal. In which case — and my bias towards sparkling wine is evident here, too — opt for a Bellini (which is what my friend Vikram Achanta, who runs the drinks consultancy firm Tulleeho recommends, too). A Bellini is essentially prosecco and peach puree (the fresher the better), and it was invented in Venice — how’s that for romance? — in the 1930s by Giuseppe Cipriani, founder of the legendary Harry’s Bar.
My kind of cocktail is the one that can be made in a heartbeat, and here are the recipes for two of them. Happy Valentine’s Day. Well, whatever.
BEE’S KNEES COCKTAIL
(From Kelvin Chueng’s One Street Over)
60ml – Gin
45ml – Honey syrup
30ml – Lemon juice
1 strip – Lemon twist
* Add all ingredients to a shaker and fill with ice, and shake.
* Strain into a cocktail glass.
* Garnish with lemon twist
(By Shatbhi Basu, for Harry’s)
Jacob’s Creek Sparkling Rose
10 ml – Monin peach
30ml – Cold cranberry juice
1 – mint sprig
* Pour cold cranberry juice into glass.
* Top with Jacob’s Creek sparkling rose
* Drizzle in the Monin peach and stir.
* Garnish with a mint sprig.