Brews & Spirits

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No mocking these mixes!

Book review: No mocking these mixes! ‘Mumbai Jellab’ (L) and the makeover ‘Safe Sex On The Beach’.

The Can’t Go Wrong Book of Mocktails weighs in at 238 pages, much weightier as compared to Shatbhi Basu’s earlier book, Can’t Go Wrong Book of Cocktails, a sure sign that non-alcoholic mixed drinks are gaining in popularity the world over, and teetotallers no longer have to complain about a lack of choice.

Shatbhi is a true legend of Indian bartending. An alumnus of the Institute of Hotel Management, Mumbai, in 1980, she went on to launch ‘Stir’, the first-ever seminar-cum-competition for bartenders, and also launched the Stir Academy of Bartending.

She is also Director of Creative Consultants, a company specialising in bar design, concepts and training. She was appointed American Whiskey Ambassador from 2013-2016, and was awarded by the President of India and the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development for being the first woman bartender and contributing to hospitality in 2018.

For her to write such a voluminous tome on this subject is another sure sign of the popularity of this class of mixed drinks.

Simple fun

The first few sections of the book take care of such basics as the equipment and glassware readers will need, the basic mixers – some of which you can buy, others that you can make at home – insights into garnishing a drink and then finally a look at different styles of mixed drinks: shaken, stirred, built-up and so on.

Shatbhi kicks off the book with a set of simple home-made ingredients that you can make from tamarind chutney to ginger lime syrup. The book then goes on to different chapters, each themed for a style of drink that you can make.

The first chapter is titled ‘Simple Fun Stuff’ (lemonades, iced teas and more), then moving on to ‘Refreshing Long Drinks’.

The drinks are intriguingly named also, to reflect their non-alcoholic character. ‘Sex On The Beach’, for example, is a popular vodka and cranberry-based cocktail, which gets a makeover in Shatbhi’s new book into ‘Safe Sex On The Beach’!

Coladas and Mojitoville follow, taking familiar cocktail drink families and giving a range of non-alcoholic options for both. Quite a few drinks also feature brands that have sponsored the book, including Teisseire syrups and purees and Svami’s range of non-alcoholic mixers (tonics, ginger ale and more).

There’s also an entire section called ‘Indian Ocean’ devoted to drinks from India, including the Goan sol-kadi, aam-panna and even rasam.

Strange brews

Milk lovers can bury themselves in the chapter called ‘Everything Yoghurt’. And those with an eye on their waists are not neglected – there is a chapter, ‘Reasonably Guilt-Free’.

The next time kids want something different or ask you to surprise them (as mine did on our last holiday), you can turn unhesitatingly to the ‘Kiddie Drink’ sections. I’m sure a lot of the other drinks would also satisfy your child, including any from the ‘Hot Chocolate’ section, a sure crowd puller!

With winter in Delhi showing no signs of receding, I turned to the ‘Strange Brews’ section, and made myself an Apple Cinnamon Toddy. (Of course, I cheated and added a bit of brandy to it!)

Shatbhi’s book is also full of useful tips based on her decades of experience in making drinks. In the toddy recipe, for example, she suggests we keep a spoon in a glass that we are pouring a hot liquid into, as the metal will absorb the heat and keep the glass safe.

Can’t Go Wrong Book of Mocktails is available on Amazon for Rs. 999.