Friday, April 18, 2014

Lift off: Russian Spirit and Kruto, 2 new vodka brands launch. Tulleeho's Sweta Mohanty was there, to taste and compete.



I was invited to this launch a couple of days back at this quiet little joint at Bandra by the name of Nom Nom. A new vodka launch had got me excited, so I was at the doors of Nom Nom bang on time.
 
I was greeted by Neha Kapadia, Director MIRSpirits and Mahesh Chauhan, Founder Member, Salt Brand Solutions
               
Neha Kapadia

                                
Mahesh Chauhan
                                                                   
We were all seated at a long table for the tasting, and to kick things off were given a beautifully designed handout.

               
Mahesh was at his wittiest best and started for off the conversation by saying “do you want me to take off my shirt??” While we looked on and were trying to figure out what he meant, he immediately explained – Isn’t that what you see in all Vodka promotions. Foreign ladies, skimpily clad girls ……… we do not want that for our vodka. We want it to stand out because of its taste”. Point taken Mahesh!
Neha and Mahesh were of the opinion that their vodka is all about taste. And they don’t need to have skimpily clad girls to promote it.
Mumbai is the 2nd city after Goa in India where they have launched. Russian Spirit as we were told uses golden wheat from the ecologically pure soil of Ukraine. It is 15 times distilled and undergoes a pure gold filtration to get the smooth finish. This is supposed to be drunk “Neat” as a sipping vodka. Here we did a comparative tasting with Grey Goose, Belvedere and Absolut. How it went, we leave it for you to taste and decide!!! Russian Spirit is competitively priced at INR 3200 in Mumbai.
Russian Spirit

Very interestingly the Russian Spirit tagline says “Introduce Yourself”, which to some might sound arrogant because it means the person drinking has to introduce himself/herself, as the vodka needs no introduction.
Nom Nom’s food was yummy…… My favorite out of the lot was Wasabi Prawns & Mushrooms and Crab Meat Sushi. A must visit to Nom Nom for everyone.
Kruto, the other vodka is priced at INR 1800/- in Mumbai and is 9 times distilled. The tag line for Kruto says “Chase Me”. This one is being promoted as a cocktails base. And they had some interesting cocktails like Guava Island (Kruto + Tabasco & Worcestershire + Lemon Juice + Green Chilli) and Bitter Sweet (Kruto + Orange Juice + Lime Juice + Lemonade + Angostura Bitters)

Kruto and Russian Spirits


When MIR Spirits had sent the invite, the first sentence said there would be a surprise element to the event. We had nearly come to the end of the evening and I was wondering where the surprise was and as if reading my mind, Neha announced an impromptu Cocktail competition, in which you had to make your own cocktail and name it too.
I volunteered to go first!! Something that I don’t do often….. Can you guess why I did it this time??
Swetalicious
Ingredients
·      Kruto – 60ml
·      Kiwi – Muddled 
·      Lime Juice – 10ml 
·      Sugar Syrup – 10ml 
·      Tabasco – 4 to 5 dashes

Method: Shake and Strain into a salt rimmed rocks glass filled with Ice. Garnish with a Kiwi Slice.
                                          



Have you still not guessed why I volunteered to go first? :p

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Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Tulleeho Wine Academy in conversation with Simon Cant, Wine making ambassador, Asia for Penfolds Wines

In the Australian outback, a dry day is not to be trifled with. Dry days however have a wholly different meaning in India, and unfortunately we’re on the verge of what turned out to be a historic elections to decide who would rule Delhi. And although we’re meeting in The Leela Gurgaon, the bar is still off limits, as we’re within striking distance of the Delhi border, and Delhi’s running scared of Gurgaon’s pernicious influence on its sobriety. Something which needs much explanation for Simon Cant, the Asia Pacific wine making ambassador for Penfolds wines. So the upshot is that the most we get to fuel our meeting is  water and hey wine is 85% water so its close!



Simon Cant
I start with a soft ball for Simon to lob out of the park.

Q. Penfolds is associated with the Americas Cup, via it’s sponsorship of Team Oracle, which mounted a historic turnaround (Team Oracle won the last 8 races to come from behind and win). Some comments on the same and your thoughts on beating the Kiwis.

A. Well I’d like to start by saying that we definitely didn’t do anything to inflate the bank balances of the Kiwi sailors!. As a sporting turnaround this was one of the most amazing comebacks I’ve seen though. As a brand association the Americas Cup is a great fit for Penfolds. Sailing is an old sport with a lot of innovation, and it’s the same with wine making, a centuries old art, in which there’s been constant innovation.

The audience for sailing, which is definitely a luxury sport and the Penfolds customer set also overlaps, so the association makes perfect sense. I might also point out that there were Kiwis on both teams!

Q. Penfolds has a massive portfolio. What’s the focus for India?

A. At the entry level, the Koonunga Hill Shiraz Cabernet and  Chardonnay. Up the scale, the Bin 407 and the Bin 389. Down the road we would love to hear about serious wine drinkers in India with 6 bottles of The Grange (one of Australia’s most prestigious red wines and a National Trust -heritage listed wine) in their cellar. We’d also love to see some of our premium wines in an Enomatic (a device used to serve and dispense wine). We put the Grange in an Enomatic at the Grand Hyatt in Djakarta and sold 20 bottles in the first month.

Koonunga Hill Chardonnay
Bin 407
Koonunga Hill Shiraz Cabernet



















Q. That brings me to the subject of the Penfolds re-corking clinic (The Penfolds Re-corking Clinics offer the owners of Penfolds red wines which are 15 years and older the opportunity to have their wines assessed by a winemaker, and if necessary, opened, tasted, topped up and re-capsuled on the spot.). How does that work?

A. We just held our first re-corking clinic in China. We’ve found that typically it takes between 8 to 12 years in a market before we do a re-corking clinic there. The first 1 or 2 are typically more events to make people more widely aware of the service we offer. Since we’ve started this service in 1990, we’ve re-certified more than 120,000 bottles globally. This is applicable for any Penfolds red wine, from the Koonunga Hill upwards. If required, we open the bottle and top it up with a little bit of the current vintage (2008). The amount we top it up with is around 15 ml, so there’s no major impact on the wine.
A re-corking in progress for a bottle of The Grange

Q. Does Penfolds have any wine investments outside Australia?

A. No we’re unashamedly 100% Australian and in fact Penfolds is a national heritage icon of South Australia.

Q. Penfolds has been with several owners over the years, how does it feel now to be part of a large wine conglomerate like Treasury Wine Estates, which is one of the largest wine companies in the world. And how does it work as regards competition with other sub-brands in the Treasury portfolio in local markets, like Lindemans, Stags Leap or Beringer.

A. First off, it’s good to be owned by a pure play wine company but still be able to operate independently. There are wonderful benefits to be a part of such a large organisation. Two major benefits, we have a global sales force and secondly, we are able to make rapid technological advancements in the winery. Also to a large extent, most of the wine labels have their own unique offerings and distinct positioning. We’d like to believe that some brands are more equal than others though, and that we’re one of them!

Q. Last Question, what’s your desert island wine?
A. Penfolds St Henri. wonderful as a young wine, wonderful as an old wine, and a counterpoint to Grange, which is a wonderful concentrated wine. A bottle? Not enough. Maybe a jeroboam or two.

St. Henri Shiraz, Simon's desert island wine

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Thursday, December 05, 2013

Penfolds Fine Australian Wine meets South Indian cuisine




Penfolds Wine Dinner @ Dakshin, ITC Maratha, with Tulleeho's Sweta Mohanty

I got an invite from Paras at Mohan Brothers, a leading wine and spirits import and distribution firm to join him for a Penfolds dinner at Dakshin at the ITC Maratha on 30th November. I was quite curious to know how they would go about the challenging job of matching some fine Australian wine, with a range of South Indian cuisine, and I got there well in time. As I entered Dakshin, Paras introduced me to Simon Cant, the Asia Pacific brand ambassador for Penfolds, and I had a chance for a brief tete a tete with him.







Excerpts from the Interview:

Sweta:  How do you consider India as a market?
Simon: Really interesting. Young Indians want to know more about wine and wine culture. In fact women are becoming more aware as it naturally appeals to them.

Sweta: Where is Penfolds available in India?
Simon: Its available at International Hotels and at Ellipsis in Mumbai. A good job by Mohan Brothers to have placed us at all the 5 stars. And yes we are open to more distribution in the future.

Sweta: Which are the strongest markets for Penfolds in India?
Simon: Mumbai and Delhi. 
Simon ends out chat on a lighter note with a comment on the excise, taxes and bureaucracy in India, which lead to logistical hiccups while importing the wines.

After this we move on to the more fun stuff, Wine tasting, and wine and food pairing. Simon, Paras (Sales Head - North & West) - Mohan Brothers Pvt Ltd, Yodissen Mootooswamy (Regional Business Manager - South Asia & Pacific) - Treasury Wine Estates and myself sit at one of the tables. The first wine that comes to us is a Chardonnay from their Koonunga Hill Range, which is a modern clean interpretation of the Australian Chardonnay. Its crisp, citrusy and has an elegant approach. This was paired with "Kodi Roast", a chicken preparation in South Indian style and Threesome of Rice Dumpling, Mini Sweet Banana pancake and Mini Uttapam with 3 different styles of chutney - coconut, coriander and "Malli Chutney"(mix of red chilli and coriander powder.







The second wine that came to our table was a classic Australian blend, a Shiraz Cabernet (60/40) from their Koonunga Hill Range again.  

Not to forget at Dakshin, they do not give you spoons and forks unless you ask for it. The idea is to eat by your hand as the South Indians do!!! So Simon was game to try it out....

To end the evening we tasted a Red from the Penfolds  Bin Range - Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon. As Simon pointed out its a style that could be enjoyed for immediate drinking or could develop well in the cellar too.

This being the last wine for the evening, the dinner was also served at the same time. And what did we have for dinner..........Here you go!!



Originally this dinner was supposed to be a sit down for all the guests together with Simon taking us through the course of wine and food pairing. However, it couldn't be worked out at Dakshin. Hence, Simon had to go to each table to answer guest’s queries.



All in all I enjoyed the wines, but I found the food to be ok. I personally feel the dinner would have worked better at Dum Pukht, ITC’s signature Indian restaurant, featuring the cuisine of Awadh India.

I bid Adieu to Simon and wished him a successful event at Delhi.




About Me
Works @ Tulleeho, Love Junk Food, Timepass Photographer, Travel freak, Mixing Drinks, Love my Bags and Shoes...In short love all da good things in life...

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Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Judgement of Delhi - Stag's Leap and Beringer wines are launched and tasted


Have you been to Roosevelt House before? I haven’t! After being personally greeted by the U.S. Ambassador, Ms. Nancy Powell and Allan Mustard, the Minister for Agricultural Affairs,lf at the entrance of the Ambassador’s house we were escorted into another room. This is where the main event of the night was taking place, a formal introduction to two of Napa Valley’s finest wine makers, Beringer and Stag's Leap who were joining the small but rapidly growing Indian wine industry.
Nicole Carter, Global Brand Ambassador and Ambassador Nancy Powell


It was just a matter of time before we were doing what the Tullees at Tulleeho do best, appreciating some world class wine. We were welcomed with a refreshing glass of sparkling rose from Beringer which gave my eyes the sparkle it needed for mingling with some rather well known faces from the beverage and hospitality fraternity in the city.



After a few handshakes and my first round of introductions with the people from the trade we headed straight for the white wine counter to kick off the wine tasting experience. The first one I tasted was a 2011 Beringer Sauvignon Blanc. With aromas of lemongrass and a hint of grapefruit it was a very well balanced wine as far as the acidity goes.

Just as I put the glass down the Ambassador officially welcomed all of us and introduced us to Nicole Carter, the Global Brand Ambassador at Beringer vineyards. I loved the two ladies not just because they were so courteous but also because they kept the introduction short & sweet, so that I could get back to my next wine, a 2009 Stag's Leap, Viognier. This elegant and well balanced wine exuded aromas of pear and orange and was very well complemented by a wide selection of finger foods. The cheese ravioli was just fine, as I took a sip of my next wine, the Stag’s Leap Chardonnay. This 2008 medium bodied wine had aromas of peach and melon with some vanilla at the finish and also combined well with the grilled chicken served along with a sweet chilli dip.

We then headed for the counter serving reds.

First up was the Beringer Founders Estate , Zinfandel, which showed flavors of black berries with a jammy character and a hint of spiciness.  A few sips of water and I was back at the bar this time for the Stag's Leap Cabernet Sauvignon. The deep red colour and full body made this tannic wine a perfect match with the Lamb chops on offer. 






While exchanging wine drinking experiences in Europe with Sue, from the Ambassador’s office I started to sip on the Beringer Founders Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. This 2011 vintage with its deep colour and complex character seemed fairly easy to drink and was easily the pick of the night for me. The next time you try this luscious wine try it with some chocolate truffle and you might love it just as much as I did.

It was time to go and the party was nearing its end. As we said the our final goodbyes for the evening and headed for the exit we were all given Beringer corkscrews as souvenirs.

Ah! Well what can I say this evening and the whole experience was a just the kind of welcome a beverage enthusiast like me can wish for at Tulleeho. My second day at work had been well spent.

Tulleeho!

Rakshit Khurana, Manager, Tulleeho

After 5 + years at sea, Rakshit returns to Delhi, his home port.

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Friday, October 11, 2013

Tulleeho Blog - A Visit to Fenny's Lounge and Kitchen, Bangalore

Fenny's Lounge and Kitchen

115, 3rd Floor, 7th Block, Opposite Raheja Arcade, Koramangala, Bangalore

Ph: 080 30412940 ext:590



I've never seen a tree in a bar before, and that too a humongous one, like the one next to our table, and it's not the only one, there's a Topiary Ficus, a little distance away which is 80 years old. And this begs the question. What's a 80 year old tree (and it's companions) doing on the 3rd  floor of Raheja Arcade, and how in heaven's name did it get there?

These are good questions to ponder, as you gaze at the wraparound bottle display around the bar counter, which the owners claim to be in the running for the most number of bottles in a display.

Fenny's as the name would suggest has a Goan feel to it, and is designed on the lines of a large beach shack, albeit a beach shack on the 4th floor of a building. It stays true to it's design by being open from 3 sides, and we were fortunate enough that it wasn't raining that night, but I can imagine that when it does rain, the wind and the water are going to make customers beat a hasty retreat to huddle around the bar.



I'm here for an after work drink with our Bangalore team, and there's an alumni of our bar tending school (Tulleeho Bartending Academy), who's hard at work at Fenny's, but he's not bold enough to tell us what goes in to Fenny's secret mix, which features in several of the cocktails on the menu. The most he can tell us is that it's a non alcoholic mix. Intrigued all the same, we order a Fenny's Mai Tai, a London Sour and a Peter Pan, and a mix of pizzas, from their wood fired oven, the BBQ Chicken, the Beef and the Lamb and sun dried tomato. The Pizzas were very good, but the cocktails when they made their appearance, were a touch over sweet.

Fenny's has a young crowd, with a mix of ages from 20 something to 35. The music was a medley of songs, from the 60's to the 90's. Given it's Club Med meets Baga beach look, we would have expected possibly a more  reggae feel to it. My colleagues, disappointed by the first cocktail, shift to beer and Old Monk and coke. I decide to stay the course, and order a Vicky Donor. Hoping that it doesn't contain Vicky's seeds, I sit and listen to Scatman John, moaning away about his days as a taxi driver in Calcutta. I am thinking, Fenny's is worth a revisit when it's raining.

Vicky Donor

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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Indian Bartenders - Raising the Bar with Varun Sudhakar, World Class Finalist 2013


Tulleeho Salutes India’s upcoming bar talent. First up is Varun Sudhakar – World Class Finalist 2013

Food and Beverage Supervisor @ Four Seasons Hotel, Mumbai
I am from Kerala, did my Hotel management from IHM Trivandrum. I have been working for the last 5 years as a flair bartender, mixologist and now as a bar supervisor. I originally wanted to be a chef!
World Class Finalist!
World class was a dream come true for me, to experience the ultimate bartending competition and to stand next to the best in the world and also to meet people whom I have only read about in books, moreover to know the world and its bar culture and to make more friends.
What inspired you to make a career in Bartending and Mixology?
Inspiration came through a bet with my best friend, which was to learn flair. I got in to the bar through flair bartending and eventually learned the tricks of the trade through Youtube videos and books and long hours of practice. Nicolas St Jean from France a freestyle flair bartender inspired me.   Mixology was put in to my head by people I met on the way who shared their knowledge and skills. 
 With Shawn D'Souza & Tulleeho's Rohan Jelkie
Guests Rock!
A guest bought me a bottle of Aperol from Italy when I said I have not seen it but know about it through books.

Great Cocktail Service
I listen to guests, ask them what their taste is, try to mix their favorite ingredients with some flair, so they are kept entertained, listen to the ice (!) and serve the drinks with a good garnish and a smile.  I feel completely locked into that drink till the time that it’s served.
I have never felt guests expect any thing else rather than a drink with a smile and happiness surrounding it.
Role Model?
I believe in sharing knowledge and experience. When I went for the competition (World Class) I was helped by a lot of people around me, some whom I knew, and some I didn’t.  Will be giving support to anyone who loves to be a bartender and wants to compete.



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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Chennai's Raising the Bar, discovers Tulleeho's Hemant Mundkur



Coming from a city like Bangalore, the last thing you’d want to counter with is heat and humidity! And that’s exactly what Chennai had to offer.
Taking the Shatabdi express was just bliss. A taxi at the train station took me to my hotel, the Oriental Inn, at the heart of the city, where the most famous bar in the whole of Chennai is located – Zara!
I had to stop by for a drink and check out what the buzz was all about. From a distance I can hear a live performance by a band called New Renditions. I was immediately greeted at the entrance and asked if I wanted to sit at the bar. The music was quite loud and I was worried that because of this my drink order would not be the way I like it – old monk, lots of ice, water, splash of coke and the juice of two lime wedges squeezed but spent wedges thrown out. To my surprise, the bartender nailed the order – this has never happened before (and yes, Old Monk, don’t judge me). I was happy, ordered a second and called it a night.
I was in Chennai to conduct back to back training sessions of Remy Cointreau, and this kicked off with The Park Hotel on Wednesday, 17th July. Pasha, the infamous nightclub, was the venue, small yet perfect for some reason! I could see some real skill at this bar as I watched one of the bartenders demonstrate a Cointreau Mint & Tea Fizz. Unlike other bars, Pasha uses Cointreau in all their cocktail recipes that are listed in their menu, and mentions it, too! At the end of my session, Saurjit, Asst. F&B, invited me to come over on Friday evening to experience the real night life of Chennai, I was leaving Friday night, ‘nuf said. But to make up for it, I went on a mini road trip to Mahabalipuram with a friend that same evening – Fish, prawns and Beer at Moonrakers!

 Diabolic Cointreaupolitans @ The Park, Chennai
The lobby was quite massive and was an atrium at the Hyatt Regency, my next session. Chennai’s 5 star hotels are legally allowed to stay open for 24 hrs, and hence the bartenders of 365 AS had hardly caught a wink of sleep as they were open the same day till 5 am, and my session at 1030. As a welcome drink, and as an energy boost, served out shooters of the Cointreau fizz – they were set!

 @ Taj Coromandel - I Love!!! Cointreau
The second session that afternoon was at ITC Grand Chola – huge would be an understatement. Post my session, I decided to head to the hotel’s bar – Cheroot Malt and Cigar Lounge, glad I did! At the entrance, a large sign signifying that the bar had the license to stay open 24 hrs (yes, a little jealous, you’d know why if you’re from Bangalore). My jaw dropped after looking at their collection of whiskies and liqueurs (none of which were Cointreau!). The bartender, who had attended my session, took me on a tour. A cigar lounge with a wide collection of Cuban cigars and the most comfortable lounge seating, flooring and walls made of teak, the perfect environment to accompany your malt, which was on display shelves region wise. The Malt lounge had a large tasting table in the center, with special tasting glasses! Each of the other tables was placed with soda canisters, and guests had the option to choose different flavors of soda to accompany their drinks.
Vinodh, from Remy Cointreau Chennai, had mentioned to me earlier that the concept behind this bar, and the beverage menu, was designed by Hanna Keirl, bartender and beverage specialist from Australia, and is also responsible for designing beverage menus PAN India – great job on this one, Hannah!
That evening I decided to check out a few other bars in Chennai, and ended up hopping! This started off with Bay 146 at the Savera hotel, and boy was I surprised at the quality of bartending at this place. All the bartenders here, smartly dressed, were churning out drinks to perfection! It all made sense when my bartender told me that he was one of the finalists of the recent Bacardi Legacy Competition. I asked him to make me a drink with Jagermeister, which I ended up video recording, ‘cuz I knew this would be worth it. Made with fresh pomegranate, a house made spice syrup and Jagermeister, The drink’s garnish was inspired by one of the videos of City Space Bar. If you’re ever in Chennai and want a good quality cocktail, be sure to head here. 
 With a Cointreau Fizz @ The Gateway, Chennai
I headed to Illusions soon after and something struck me over there as I looked at the display of brands at the bar, all bars in Chennai display their bar counters with the most premium brands, which made me draw two conclusions – one was that Chennai’s consumers were very brand conscious (and loaded) and two, it is a rule in Chennai that all bars must be located within a hotel’s premises, hence better quality drinks, higher standards (and expensive).
Chennai – quality bartenders, quality drinks, larger than life experience!
Hemant Mundkur, Tulleeho Beverage Trainer

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