Exposure to international trends and tastes thanks to streaming shows and social media has made the city’s party people more aware of what they’re drinking, how it should look and taste, the right brands to brandish, and what the stylish sips are today. They are even clued in to which ones will go the furthest in terms of Insta-likes! And the sophisticated serious drinkers do take their drinks seriously, preferring quality over quantity.
Bartender Pushparaj J Pillai observes, “I’ve noticed that guests have improved beverage knowledge these days.
They know what they are drinking. Their top list is beer, cocktails and shooters. They also check which brands we use in cocktails.”
PratheekPonnappa, an IT Consultant who likes the company of friends and colleagues when he’s out partying, says that trying everything is good and alcohol is one of the things he is experimental with as well. He says, “What I imbibe depends on the location and time. If it is a brewery, freshly brewed beers, and at a cocktail bar, cocktails like a martini, or even a simple gin and tonic. My choice mostly follows the line of diet and interest, which is a subset of knowledge from various sources. I’m one of those people who give taste a second preference.”
Soham Shoney, a photographer who likes to go out for a drink twice a week, says, “The choice of drinks always depends on the hour of the day and even the time of the year. Personally, I prefer gin or vodka cocktails for brunch or summer afternoons. In the evening, it’s usually whiskey or whiskey-based cocktails. The order for the drinks also depends on how interesting the bar menu of a specific establishment is. I also always go with the recommendation of the mixologist, if I trust him. Or else I stick to the safe option. My order also depends on the flavours that I enjoy or want to try or would have read somewhere about. Although I’m always opening to trying something new, I still prefer doing this on someone’s suggestion.”
Pratheek adds, “Ordering drinks along with a group, everyone goes with their personal choice because alcohol is something personal, I believe. Age group and budget also plays a role here. I like my cocktail mixtures to be very simple -gin &tonic, rum & cola, a classic martini or, if it’s a bright sunny day, then a shandy (beer and a fizzy lemon drink) or just sparkling wine. Evening it is mainly whiskey on the rocks. These blends are not that Instagram-friendly but score more on the comfort factor. However, I see my colleagues and friends go for the fancier options (in terms of visuals) even if it doesn’t taste as per their liking.”But he has fallen for the wow factor a few times. He recalls, “A cocktail lounge once had a vodka-based cocktail with a secret ingredient called liquid gold. Called Crown, it was priced at Rs 1,000, which was the highest price I have seen in the city! And yeah, everyone on my table tried it!” he chuckles.
Since his clients are getting adventurous and also seem to have a more evolved palate, Pushpraj says that he often has to customise cocktails too. Of course, he may not always agree with the combinations that guests come up with! He laughs, “Sometimes, when the guest asks for tequila with tonic water, that is his preference and I serve it. But if a guest asks me for lime juice in a Pina Colada, it would just be wrong - lime with cream, never!”
But sometimes when he has a guest who is knowledgeable and wants his drink just so, he obliges happily. He says, “Managing that one very particular guest who comes to me asking for a cocktail in his style, he has to be taken care of. He may want a Caprioshka his way. He’ll say -’put more lime wedges, less sugar, crushed ice and vodka in a tall glass’. Once we’ve spent time on it, the next time we’ll know that’s the way he likes his drink and we make it as per his preference. This makes a lot of guests make repeat visits and also has them coming back with more guests so his friends see how he gets his drink made specially.”...