6 November 2017

A friendship that goes back more than a quarter century

One of those friendships that were struck in June 1991 that has carried thru for over 26 years. Thru that, we have each jumped cities four or five times, jobs even more (worked together in three different companies), had two kids each but have been a great support for each other and have had some amazing times together as families.

We have had our differences too – he was an avid beer drinker and I would not touch beer, he would do Android and I would not do anything but Apple (he has switched now, as I understand) and he reveled in new cars and I would buy one only to drive it to the ground.

But our biggest difficulty has been on agreeing who has a better sense of humor. Most friends who we asked to mediate would retort “Is none of the above an option?”.

It was good – nay, great – to see Raj and Viji back in our town and at our place…

6 November 2017

From the bartender’s corner – Genever Old Fashioned

This is an interesting take on an Old Fashioned. Most Old Fashioned are “spirit forward” – which is why some form of whiskey – Bourbon, Rye or even Brandy is used to make it. Gins, Rums or Vodkas just would not have the muscle strength to carry an Old Fashioned. On the other hand, a Genever can (the aging process gives it a distinct edge and character).

The recipe calls for maple syrup (instead of your simple syrup), standard bitters and citrus peels.

Came thru very well.

5 November 2017

From the bartender’s corner – Dutch Green Hornet

The recipe is from Bols Genever website. They call it Green Hornet. But different sources suggest different alcohol base for a Green Hornet. Pisco is a very common suggestion. Difford’s Guide suggests vodka.

Since I am experimenting with Bols Genever, I changed the name a little to Dutch Green Hornet. In the alcohol world, nothing says Genever (or beer) like “Dutch” does.

Did go with a tulip glass per their recommendation though.

The ingredients are Genever, Melin liqueur and lime.

4 November 2017

From the bartender’s corner: Gin# 23 – Bols Genever

The original Bols family had started a distillery way back in 1575. To put it in perspective, William Shakespeare was just a few years old then!! There have been a few reincarnations of the distillery ever since. The Genever making started in the mid 1600s. It is one of the oldest distilleries in the world and one of the oldest Dutch companies still in business. (Although I wish they had spelt it “Jenever” to keep up with the old local tradition)

If you recollect, genever is the forefather of today’s gin (referred to many times as London Dry – although there are many other types today). Unlike dry gin, genever used to be aged in a barrel – much like whisky or wine of those days.

Therefore, Bols – like every other genever has the very typical smoky nose to it. The base alcohol comes from malted wine and neutral grain spirit. It is then distilled – three times in fact – in standard copper stills. The botanicals – which are held as a secret – are added in the last distillation.

The nose strongly reminds you of the malty and grain roots with the juniper and citrus coming thru much later. To the palette it is sweeter, thick and smooth. The finish is smoky due to the ageing.

As with all other barrel aged drinks (like whiskey), this is best drank neat (with a splash of water or maybe an ice) or in a cocktail. But genever is not a G&T drink. Although I have to admit, I did make one (genever with tonic) and had it. Nothing to write home about.

1 November 2017

Gins of the World

I started this year thinking I will do all my research and studying of gins. The history of gins, the manufacturing process, the different ingredients in different gins and the difference in gins by their origins. I also wanted to try out those gins in different cocktails and make a comparative study.

The good news is that so far, I have learned a lot. I mean a lot.

The bad new is that my original estimate of 26 gins in 52 weeks has now ballooned to 38 gins. I think I will continue with this in 2018.

In the meanwhile, I mapped out all the distilleries for these 38 different gins spread over 13 different countries in 4 different continents. Looked cool…

And here is the link to the map in case anybody wants to know more details: https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?hl=en&mid=1tsYujwbCei154Wv5BYBTQxUyn0I&ll=29.843387093543175%2C-80.20935361249997&z=3

31 October 2017

A little something for me too…

A lot of things were accomplished this trip – the top two missions were to be with dad and mom and also try to meet some old teachers. Could not meet many – actually any – of my old classmates, friends from neighborhood and all that. Although, did get “bhaiphnota” after three and a half decades from my sister.

Finally, it was time to do something just for myself.

After alighting at Frankfurt airport, went to the biggest Duty Free shop and got hold of one of those helpful young gentleman from the store. They had a huge wine and liquor section.

I am nothing if not a bunch of quixotic passions put together. Since gin is my major area of focus this year on the cocktails front (and looking at my inventory, it is promising to go well into next year), I asked him if he could show me some German gin. He got me a bottle of Monkey 47. But I have already gone thru that. He had none other.

Changed my tack – showed him the list of 11 countries that I have gins from.

“If you can get me gins from any country other than these 11, I will buy them”.

We settled for Norway and Japan!!

What can I say? Apparently, I have more “research” in front of me 🙂

31 October 2017

The defining image of this trip…

Undoubtedly, this trip was all about my dad. Watching him go thru the transitions and helping him phase into a new stage of life is what I was there for. What I had not counted on is the level of transition this meant for my mom.

In an earlier post, I had written about the challenges of being a caregiver of a elderly patient with limited ability to move or make himself understood. I had further mentioned that on top of that, being a mother is totally incomprehensible to me in terms about effort and sacrifice.

As the days went by, I realized another thing. My mom is realizing that, in addition to all those, she is now going to be the head of the household. She brought out a couple of big files from the almirah and asked my brother and I if we could explain to her the house finances. (Dad has no ability to explain anything). We sifted thru a lot of papers and bank passbooks and armed with some prior knowledge we had, we helped her understand her monthly expenses, sources of income and current assets in bank.

In fact, my brother and I went to a couple of banks a few times (I went to an Indian bank after about 25 years!!) to set up a few things for her.

In my previous visits, mom would either be cooking or sitting with us or be sleeping (remember, she is a psychiatric patients and those medicines have a strong sedative effect). This time, for the first time, I saw her often sitting by herself and in very pensive mood. She seemed to get very deep in her thoughts.

I always wondered whether to interrupt her thoughts. One time, I managed to take a picture of her and then I did break down and asked her what was going thru her mind.

“Eka songshar ki korey chaalabo tai bhaabchi”.

She was thinking thru how she was going to manage all the family affairs by herself.

That is when I realized that on top of her normal role and the added role of being the primary caregiver, she now has to be the head of the household too. Forget her. I myself became too confused how was one person going to deal with all of these.

I have mentioned this before – For all the things my dad and mom are going thru, we have one of the best support systems you could think of. My sister lives next door to my parents. My brother lives couple of hours away and regularly visits them to get my dad’s medicines (those are available only in Kolkata). And I get to see them every three months. Between the three siblings, till date, we have been fortunate enough to financially support them on any care or services they might need. I know none of these are constants and things can change on any front dramatically quickly but that said, till date, we have been incredibly lucky in our support system for parents.

Even then, watching my mom, the thought came across my mind – may be I should just go and stay with them for the last few years of their lives.

That pensive picture of my mom has been permanently seared in my mind now…