My Favourite Bars In Cochin

Couchyn at The Grand is a restaurant on Grand Hotel, MG Road Ernakulam in Kochi. It is a preferred destination for several old timers in the city as it is attached to one of the oldest & famous family restaurants in Cochin. A perfect place for wining and dining, drop into enjoy your favorite beverages, cocktails & mocktails. Recommended food pairings are their Trivandrum style chicken, fish fingers, tandoori chicken and French fries.

Blue Rock Resto Bar at Olive Downtown – very cool and awesome location at Kadavanthara. They mix fine dining dishes with fast food and snacks. They have happy hours and offers as well. A tad more expensive than Couchyn. Best pro is that you can get burgers & pizza from the hotel’s cafe downstairs to pair with your beer while you sit in the bar. Recommended is the crispy fried prawns, pork chops & their pizzas.

The Ava Lounge & Bar is hotel Raddison Blu’s bar which is on the 6th floor. Comfy chairs and Couches, thoughtful and polite staff, variety of beer, wine and liquor with a great ambience & service. Decent prices for 5 star hotel however you must go during their happy hours from 11am-4pm. Afghani chicken, tempura prawns and French fries are the only food I have tried from there and I highly recommend them. It tends to get crowded during the evenings and on weekends.

Five Facts About Cognac

1. Cognac is the Champagne of brandy

Cognac is a type of brandy, or distilled wine, made in a delineated region of about 200,000 acres surrounding the town of Cognac, on France’s western coast. All Cognac is brandy, but not all brandy is Cognac. Like how all rhombuses are squares, but not all squares are rhombuses. Or how all grilled cheeses are sandwiches, but not all sandwiches are grilled cheeses. We can keep going but we’ll stop because you probably got it the first time. 

2. There are six distinct Cognac-making regions

Within this “delimited area,” as it’s called by French Cognac authorities, are six zones of production defined by their terroir. From highest-quality (chalky, limestone-rich soil that retains the most moisture and reflects the most sunlight to the grapes) to lowest (soil that is mostly clay or sand), they are: Grande Champagne, Petit Champagne, Borderies, Fins Bois, Bons Bois, and Bois Ordinaires. Virtually all Cognacs are blended from several eaux-de-vie (distilled spirits of varying ages) from these six regions for the most well-rounded flavor.

3. There are some really strict laws about Cognac

Here are a few: Cognac must be made from one or a combination of just three types of grapes (Ugni Blanc, Folle Blanche, and Colombard). It must be aged for at least two years. It must be double-distilled in copper pot stills of a particular shape and configuration (Chartenais, after the French district where the process originated). Its grapes must be harvested only in October, and it must be distilled only from November 1st to March 31st. And distillers have to sing La Marseillaise at no louder than a whisper to each individual barrel three times a day (okay we made that up but seriously it would be believable considering everything else).

4. That whole “VS” and “VSOP” thing is actually pretty simple

There are three main classifications for Cognac: VS, or Very Special, has been aged at least two years (Cognacs marked with three stars are also VS); VSOP, or Very Superior Old Pale, has been aged at least four years; XO, or Extra Old, has been aged at least six years (though as of next April, Cognac will need 10 years of aging to qualify as XO).

5. People used to drink Cognac from those big honking glasses to keep it warm

Back when smallpox was a daily topic of conversation at ye olde tavern, The Queen’s No-Central-Heating, it was just cold all the time. Those big bulb glasses are designed to channel heat from the necessarily meaty grip of your hands to the drink, which is best enjoyed at about 70 degrees.

Corona Extra – A Beer For A Hot & Humid Day

As  beer lover who wants to try as many beer brands as I possibly can before the end of my life, living in India is tough as what we get is kinda limited when you compare it with European countries, the UK, the US or Canada. Sometimes we get a few brands and that excites us and after a few months or years suddenly the bars you go to or the liquour & beer stores you go to no longer have them in stock and it seems to have vanished (like Miller, Tuborg & Carlsberg and a few others). Here’s hoping that this one, which I was finally able to get after a long, long while is gonna be available a lot more in my area and that’s Corona.

Corona is a brand of beer produced by Mexican brewery CervecerĂ­a Modelo and owned by Belgian company AB InBev. It is the top-selling brand of imported beer in the United States and is very popular here in some parts of India. It is often served with a wedge of lime or lemon in the neck of the bottle to add tartness and flavor. The recipe for the mash bill includes corn as well as the barley  malt and hops  traditionally used used for making beer. The brand’s most popular variation is Corona Extra, a pale lager. It is one of the top-selling beers worldwide, and Corona Extra has been the top-selling imported drink in the U.S. since 1998.

I cannot tell you how excited and how much I was looking forward to getting to taste one I was two Sundays ago. Having heard that it is available in one of bars that I like going to, I eagerly waited to go and enjoy 1. It really is awesome tasting and will go down well, especially on a hot day. Now that we are in March and it’s only gonna get more hotter and humid, I see the sale of this particular brand go up in Kerala. As long as they can keep this brand available for us, I see good success for Corona Extra. I give this beer a 9 outta 10!

Drinking A Couple Beers After 6 Months & Long Overdue Haircut

Finally, after such a long time I was finally out and about. Post May and the second lockout which lasted for almost a month I haven’t been out for anything other than getting vaccines done in August. Then I had my hospitalization in October and then have only been out for hospital visits and doctor’s appointments. Today was the day that changed. What I needed most was two things and for the first I booked it via a phone call in the morning. A couple of days ago I had also called my cousin Sujith to see if he was game to meet up for a few beers and we arranged to do it today.

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I was long, long overdue for a haircut. Even though I am balding very badly on the top, my hair does grow at the sides and back. My last haircut was…..steady yourselves folks……back in late April or early May! My hair was so long at the back that it was almost shoulder length. It was very difficult to dry my hair after a shower. Also it started getting in the way at times and it was curling at the ends and when I shave it would get in the way. I should have cut my hair back in August or September but then yeah, I wasn’t going out anywhere.

So I had booked my appointment for a haircut at a nice saloon which I have been going since the last 2-3 years. Expensive but it is very nice and comfortable and you don’t have to sweat while waiting for your barber to be free. Besides, I only have to do this once every 4 months or so, therefore a little pampering is ok in my book. I shaved and showered and then got dressed and got into an Uber by 12:40 pm and reached there by 12:55pm. I waited for all of 5 minutes before I was seated and then got my long locks chopped off. Man, it feels good!

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While I was still getting my hair cut, Sujith reached the saloon and waited on one of the seats. Once my haircut was done, I paid and united with my cousin – we hadn’t met since July of 2020. Damn, that is such a long, long time. We walked over to Couchyn, my favourite bar which I hadn’t visited since February 2020, got a table and then checked the menu. Prices are so high these days but yeah once in a while it’s ok to enjoy yourselves. We ordered two Hoegaardens which was delicious and then two Coronos, which I had never had before. We munched on a bunch of French fries – which are way better than any fries from McDonalds, Taco Bell, Burger King, Chicking or KFC. Seriously!

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Ofcourse we chatted up a storm. We talked about what he was doing and his personal life, what I have been doing at work and my lack of a personal life. We talked about the usual stuff – Star Trek shows, Marvel movies & tv shows, other new tv series, girls & women, etc. After that we ordered one more Hoegaarden each and ended up the afternoon with two scoops of ice cream each. He had vanilla and I had chocolate. Everything was great tasting and I really have missed beer. It has been 6 months since I had had a meal out of the home and since months since I had any beer. How I have missed you, beer!

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Then I booked my Uber to come back home and we parted at the entrance. He walked to the Metro nearby and went home. I got into my Uber and had a nice chat with the driver who was also very kind. I came home and watched tv for a bit and took a nap before waking up for coffee.

Cocoatini Cocktail : A Superb Cocktail For Valentine’s Day Dinner

Create the perfect drink for your Valentine’s Day evening can create the right atmosphere for an unforgettable evening and setup your Valentine’s Day dinner …… and after. Easy to mix up, the most romantic cocktails tend to have favorite aphrodisiacs like strawberries or raspberries and other love-inducing fruits, occasionally with a bit of chocolate.

Some of the recipes are ideal before or during the meal, while others offer delicious dessert options. Doing a quick search I found a delicious looking & sounding cocktail that is sure to be a big hit.

Ingredients

  • Hy-Vee chocolate syrup
  • 1 ½ oz. Godiva chocolate liqueur
  • 1 ½ oz. Kahlua
  • 1 ½ oz. Baileys Irish cream
  • 2 oz. brewed espresso
  • 2 oz. Hy-Vee half-and-half

Directions

Garnish a 12-oz. martini glass with chocolate syrup. Combine chocolate liqueur, Kahlua, Irish cream, espresso, half-and-half, and 1/4 cup crushed ice in a cocktail shaker. Cover and shake well. Strain into prepared glass. If desired, garnish with fresh raspberries.

Missing The Nectar Of The Gods

It has been a little over 5 months now since I have had any alcohol and it has been over 6 months since I have had any beer. I had stopped going out for a while and hence when my last supply of beer was over, I moved to rum which I had. Then in September I stopped drinking all alcohol since I went on a diet and then 5 weeks later I had the medical issue and since then I haven’t had anything at all.

Now I feel like drinking a beer and have been missing it for a while now but I haven’t been out too much. Hence I haven’t gone to buy any beer. I have wanted to but in October – no way was I gonna buy anything to drink other than juice. You know keeping it all healthy like with fruits and fruit juice. It was only by December that I started craving some alcohol and beer in particular but I still hesitated to get any. I was planning to go the week after the 25th to perhaps go and buy some but then I did hurt my knee and because of the swelling and the pain, I was sure I wouldn’t be able to get into a car.

Now that it is gone, I am thinking of getting some beer again. Realizing how long it has been since I had some is staggering to think off. I am not a daily drinker at all but I do like my weekly 2 beers along with some good food and relax on a Saturday night. I miss that a lot. I hope to go and buy some in a few day.

Vodka Cocktails: Vodka Watermelon Cocktail

I love Vodka and though I love my Sprite/7Upwith vodka on ice, I always look out for simple cocktails that I can make with easily available ingredients. As far as that goes, this is one of the simplest! Only 4 ingredients and you’ll be sipping away on this light refreshing cocktail! It’s made with fresh chilled watermelon, coconut sugar, fresh lime juice and Vodka! It’s low in sugar and only 136 calories a serving!

Ingredients

  • 8 cups chilled watermelon
  • 11.5 oz. coconut water
  • 4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 cup vodka citron (citrus flavored vodka)
  • mint for garnish

Instructions

  • To a blender add watermelon, coconut water and fresh lime juice.
  • Blend until smooth.
  • Pour mixture into a large pitcher.
  • Add Vodka and stir.
  • Serve over ice.
  • Garnish with lime wedges and fresh mint.

ROSHAN’S ELEVEN : Top 11 Beer Facts Every Beer Lover Should Know

1. Oldest recorded brewery : Beer is the oldest recorded recipe in the world. The first known barley beer can be traced back to around 5,000 B.C.

2. World’s oldest operating brewery : Established in 1040, in Weihenstephan, Germany, Weihenstephan is the world’s oldest operating brewery.

3. World’s most consumed alcoholic drink : Beer is the most popular alcoholic beverage drink worldwide. In fact, after water and tea, beer is the most commonly consumed drink in the world.

4. Strongest Beer in the World : The strongest beer in the world has a strength of 67.5% alcohol by volume. This beer was created in 2017 by the Scottish brewery Brewmeister. The beer is called Snake Venom.

5. Top beer-producing countries : China, the US, Brazil, Mexico, and Germany are the top beer-producing countries in the world, even while global sales are down.

6. Leading beer brand worldwide : According to Brand Directory ranking, the leading beer brand worldwide is Corona. The value of this brand is more than $11.4 billion dollars. In second place is Heineken, in third place is Budweiser. The top five also include Victoria and Bud Light.

7. Most popular beer style : Lager is the most popular beer style in the world. Budweiser, Coors Light, Corona and Michelob Ultra are all lagers. These come from large beer producers, which accounts for roughly 87% of the beer marketplace in the U.S.

8. Beer health benefits : Beer is made from natural ingredients, including malted cereals (most often barley), hops, yeast and water. Thanks to these, beer contains minerals, vitamins, fibre and polyphenols that can positively contribute to a person’s diet.

9. Country with most expensive beer : Qatar has the most expensive beer in the world, with an average price of USD $11.26 (Rs. 830.76) per 330ml bottle.

10. Country with the cheapest beer : The cheapest beer is in South Africa, where the average price is $1.68 per bottle. The Czech Republic has the highest consumption rate, with 468 beers per person per year. The cheapest beer is in South Africa, where the average price is $1.68 per bottle.

11. Largest number of beers consumed in a single sitting : Andre the Giant holds the world record for the largest number of beers consumed in a single sitting. During a six-hour period, Andre drink 119, 12-ounce bottles of beer.

Happy International Beer Day – August 6th, 2021

Beer is  one of the oldest drinks the world has ever known. International Beer Day gives fans worldwide just one more excuse to have a round on the first Friday in August. Beer has a reputation as the drink of choice for the ordinary working man or woman. When it’s served up cold and frothy or strong and We celebrate International Beer Day on the first Friday in August every year – August 6, 2021 –, when summer’s end begins to loom large. The start of another weekend beckons us to put aside our work, set aside differences, and come together to celebrate our shared love of beer.

Founded in 2007 in Santa Cruz, California by Jesse Avshalomov, since its inception, International Beer Day has grown from a small localized event in the western United States into a worldwide celebration spanning 207 cities, 80 countries and 6 continents. Specifically, International Beer Day has three declared purposes:

  1. To gather with friends and enjoy the taste of beer.
  2. To celebrate those responsible for brewing and serving beer.
  3. To unite the world under the banner of beer, by celebrating the beers of all nations together on a single day.

Participants are encouraged to give one another the ‘gift of beer’ by buying each other drinks, and to express gratitude to brewers, bartenders, and other beer technicians. In the international spirit of the holiday, it is also suggested that participants step out of their domestic/locally brewed comfort zone and sample a beer from another culture. Popular forms of International Beer Day Events include: Tapping of new or rare beers, all-day happy hours, beer flights, trivia nights, binge drinking and other games (such as beer pong), beer/food pairings and beer gear giveaways.

Bars Reopen In Kerala, To Sell Only Beer & Wine

Liquor bars in Kerala have resumed operations from Monday though only beer and wine will be sold for now. They were closed nearly a week ago, soon after the latest Covid unlock had commenced, in protest over the hike in warehouse charges by the Beverages Corporation or Bevco which is the wholesale seller of liquor in the State. Bar owners on Monday said no liquor will be sold at bars till their demands are met. The exception has been made for beer as it cannot be sold after the expiry date.

The president of the Federation of Kerala Hotels Associations, V Sunil Kumar, said private bars could resume parcel service only if the government took a decision favourable to them. More than 800 bars and 40 liquor outlets of the Consumerfed across Kerala had shut operations this month citing financial loss. The outlets turned sick as the Bevco increased its warehouse rate and slashed the profit margin of retailers. Bevco had raised the warehouse charge for bars from 8% to 25% and for Consumerfed from 8% to 20%.

Bevco justified the move saying that the increase was needed to recoup the loss it faced during the COVID lockdowns. Following the move, the bars and Consumerfed liquor outlets decided to cease operations from June 21, three days after the sale of liquor had resumed in the state. The profit margin of retail outlets fell to three per cent from 20% after Bevco increased its warehouse rate. Private bar owners said they would incur a loss of Rs 9,000 while selling liquor worth Rs 1 lakh under the revised Bevco rate.

Bars In Kerala Shut In Protest

All bars in Kerala will remain indefinitely shut starting from Monday, in protest against a decision by the Kerala State Beverages Corporation Limiter or Bevco to increase their wholesale profit margin on the sale of liquor provided to consumerfed and bar hotels from its warehouses. The profit margin has been increased from 8% to 20% and 25% on the sale of liquor from Bevco’s warehouses to bars and the consumerfed. However, the bars have not been allowed to increase retail prices on sale of liquor, despite this increase in profit margin. This has led the bar owners to protest, as the move will eat into their profits.

According to reports, the government had allowed bars to sell liquor as take away since June 17. However the purchase rate of alcohol for bars was higher than its MRP, forcing bars to sell their liquor at a loss. For the lowest priced rum, the purchase rate for the bar is Rs 611 per bottle while it’s MRP is fixed at Rs 600. Pointing out that it is the buyer who eventually pays the high tab, an office bearer said that Bevco buys the liquor at a much lower rate and sells it to bars at a wholesale price including taxes and profits.

Speaking to the media, office bearers of the Federation of Kerala Hotels Association said that Bevco’s decision will negatively affect hotel bars as it will lead to a significant drop in their profit margins. They also said that it would be tough to run the bars with these profit margins in a scenario where the bars are already hit hard by the pandemic. The federation has approached the state government, which has assured that it will look into the concerns of bar owners. Until the government takes action on the issue, the federation has decided to stop the sale of liquor from bars in Kerala.

Enjoying The Games

Football tournaments is always an enjoyable time for fans like me. Whether it is the Euros or the World Cup or even the Copa America (the latter of which I rarely actually watch other than the semis & finals), I love watching international football tournaments. Since the Euro2020 got delayed due to the pandemic, it is something which I was looking forward to a lot during the last year.

Along with the games I (like man others) also enjoy having my snacks while I watch the games. This weekend I couldn’t get any beer and since I had just recovered from a bad cold, I wasn’t planning on drinking rum or vodka. Coke was the choice for drinking along with coffee. I enjoy popcorn or chips like Lays or Bingo. What are the best flavours of chips – for me it is American Cream & Onion and Tangy Tomato. Yum!

These go well with beer, vodka+Sprite, rum+Coke or even coffee. Amazing to enjoy these while watching a good game.

Cocktail : Vodka Sour

A vodka sour is one in the family of sour cocktails. Sours are defined as three parts: liquor, citrus, and sweetener. The most basic formula for a sour cocktail is 2 ounces spirit, ¾ ounce sour, ¾ ounce sweet. Of course, there are all sorts of variations on the theme! The most classic of all sours are the Whiskey Sour and Pisco Sour. But there are many more: with or without the title “sour”. This vodka sour is very similar to our Tequila Sour and Gin Sour!

The ingredients for this vodka sour are:

Vodka
Lemon juice
Lime juice (optional)
Agave syrup or simple syrup
Angostura bitters
Egg white

A vodka sour is similar to another drink with a fancy name: the Cosmopolitan Cocktail! The Cosmo is essentially a vodka sour that uses cranberry juice to give it a vibrant pink color. Of course it skips the egg white foam and bitters, and uses orange liqueur (in this case Cointreau). Another variation on the vodka sour is a Vodka Gimlet! The main difference with the gimlet is it uses lime juice instead of lemon. It also skips the egg white foam and bitters. Both are great cocktails that we’d absolutely recommend trying!

The Black & The Red

Is Coke slowly replacing Pepsi as my choice of soft drink? Since Covid hit, even though I have been getting the odd Pepsi bottle or can, I seem to be buying more & more Coke instead.

During the work week, when it is hot, there is nothing more that I enjoy than a cold drink with a bit of ice added to the glass to sip and enjoy as I work. Especially in the late evenings. During the weekend, Saturday I will add my Old Monk rum or Smirnoff Espresso to it and enjoy the combo while I eat some good food. Sunday I will drink a large glass of Coke as I watch Youtube and enjoy listening/watching music videos throughout the evening.

I still prefer Sprite overall and 7up is a close second but I like a cola since my current alcoholic beverages at home are the Espresso vodka and black rum. They go so well with a Coke or Pepsi. So for the time being it is a cola that I buy and Coke seems to be winning. Beside there is something really special about a rum & Coke.

Rum & Pepsi

So usually I am a vodka guy when it comes to harder liquor – because vodka is delicious – and enjoy drinking a few but rum and Coke or Pepsi is also delicious. While I usually drink Old Monk which is an Indian rum, I have had more Bacardi White rum more often in the last 10 years.

Light rums, also referred to as “silver” or “white” rums, in general, have very little flavor aside from a general sweetness. Light rums are sometimes filtered after aging to remove any colour. The majority of light rums come from Puerto Rico. Their milder flavors make them popular for use in mixed drinks, as opposed to drinking them straight. Light rums are included in some of the most popular cocktails including the Mojito and the Daiquiri.

While I love cocktails, I find that mostly I just like the rum with Coke or Pepsi with a few chunks of ice. That in itself is delicious enough for me. Today I had some Bacardi white, which I haven’t had in over a year, while I ate some sausages for starters and a pizza for lunch in a bar.

Afternoon @ Blue Rock Bar

Finally! After over a year I went to a bar and enjoyed a few drinks and some food. Even though the bars opened in late December, I wanted to wait for a few weeks before going in as Covid isn’t going anywhere. But after my cousin went to Couchyn & Blue Rock bars last month I was really wanting to go to one myself.

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So I planned to go in last weekend but I was feeling a bit tired and wanted to stay in all weekend and catch up on my sleep. This weekend my cousin was headed to Trivandrum to meet some friends and other relatives. Even on my own I thought I still want to go just because it’s been so long. I wanted a change of pace and it having been over a year, I was ready to go. So I went to Blue Rock yesterdat at 12 pm.

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I went in and there is plenty of social distancing in the tables and I love the layout. I ordered 4 Smirnoff Vanilla vodkas and 7up. This is the first time that I am trying the vanilla flavoured ones and boy is it delicious. I love their espresso one, which tastes just like a light cold coffee and this one is like a vanilla flavoured 7up! Hmmmm.

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And now let’s talk about food. Blue Rock & Olive Downtown (which the hotel that this bar is in) has excellent food. I first ordered me some golden batter fried prawns which are really delicious. They had this thick sweet chilli sauce to dip the prawns. I could drink that sauce everyday. It was that good. And I love prawns.

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After that, and while I started my 3rd drink, I ordered some honey glazed pepper pork. I was thinking of sticking with seafood but this place has a lot of pork items on their menu. It was good and well cooked but a bit too oily and spicy for my taste. If they had gotten down that under control it would have been the perfect dish. I needed to cool my tongue down and I kept sipping 7up for that.

I ended the afternoon with a slice of cake as a dessert. I then went to buy some groceries and some medicines before coming back home and watching part of a movie.