As the year draws to an end, I am filled with hope. It’s only November and I can almost feel a nip in the air in Mumbai. After the joyous celebrations we experienced for Dussehra and Diwali, Christmas feels promising and it warms my heart to imagine the cheer in bars and restaurants across the country.
Twinkly lights and trees, mistletoe and reindeer, Santa on his sleigh. Glasses filled with the tinkling of ice, the gurgling of liquids and ringing with cheer! I’m already all euphoric!
In spite of my very tight schedule – and that is another sign that it’s getting upbeat in our world – my mind’s buzzing with thoughts that are constantly updated on notes on the phone. An evening with family and friends filled with amazing creations made by colleagues and friends.
This year I celebrate the pioneering spirit of the bravehearts who have put us on the world map: may they continue to blaze their way to even more glory in the year to come.
The fruits for my Christmas cake will be soaked in wines from Nashik. Chicken liver pate and mushroom pate will be finished a blaze of rum from Goa. Seafood will be greater, soused in Goan gin, a little agave spirit worked into a feisty guacamole and salsa.
The ham will wear a glaze redolent with the richness of the Christmas edition 2021 of the great Indian single malt. And we haven’t even begun drinking yet…
I am hopeful the Indian hospitality too honours these visionaries. In a market that’s impossible to say the least, each of them, across categories, have shone against all odds.
Great beers, delicious wines, remarkable rums, outstanding gins, fantastic whiskey, some vodka too and amazing cocktails, in bottles and cans, tonic and ginger ale, artisanal mixes, kombucha and kefir.
It’s a long list – they have put India on the world map and stand tall. We can all bask in their reflected glory and be proud. I am glad to call some of these winemakers, brewers, distillers, dreamers my friends. I listen to them talk about their products.
Look at, nose, taste and then think about them. Make notes. Then buy and gently soak in their beauty with friends. This is the good life. Yours to pick, choose, enjoy and share.
So draw up your lists and tick them off as they fill the bar and refrigerators. Think of what will go into the mulled wine and egg nog. Into the roast gravy and pasta. Into your cocktail glasses.
The Old Fashioned and Negroni, the Espresso Martini. The Yuletide Mule. That kickin’ Iced Tea that still does the trick. Margaritas and strawberries, pink sparkling wine on ice. Big, bold Cabs or a peppery Shiraz.
Or just that cube of ice to open up the malts. Some have been ordered; others will follow soon. Menus are slowly coming together. Fruits and peels are being sourced to be soaked, till they are soused enough to be turned into moist, spicy, delicious cakes.
All kinds of spices will be thrown into bottles of wine to make the Xmas Mull. Fruits will be frozen to ice the sparkling wine punch for Xmas lunch and New Year’s brunch. Gin & Tonics will be sipped while in the kitchen prepping.
Wine will be thrown into sizzling pans to deglaze the roasts, to moisten chicken liver for pate, to souse the Hungarian Goulash! So much to do, so much to imagine, and so little time.
So shop from everywhere you travel to work. I will buy whisky, wine and Nilgiris chocolate biscuits and mints in Bangalore; spices, vinegar and bitter orange marmalade in Coorg; cheese from Pondicherry; chorize, poi and many spirits and cocktails from Goa.
And be back in time to pile up the tables with the goodies we’ve both bought and cooked. To share with family and friends through Christmas and as we bring in the New Year.
There will be stories and silence; guitar strings and songs; laughter and reminiscing. And hope… That the coming year will be kind to all and the broken shall heal.
Let’s raise our glasses to the spirit of Indian entrepreneurs. Merry Christmas and a Merrier New Year!