Every now and then I get invited to this one evening with the other bloggers that’s a little more close to my heart than other events. This particular evening was one of those where I knew it was going to be a memorable one from the moment the invitation arrived in my mailbox. I was invited to the Taj West End at Bengaluru for Johnnie Walker Double Black Dinner curated by Mr Zbignew Zapert ( Reserve Brand Ambassador, United Spirits) in collaboration with Chef Sandip Narang (Executive Chef, the Taj West End). Anyone who knows me knows how much I love my whiskey, and would know how much I was looking forward to this evening.
The whole theme of the evening was to educate us on whiskey, especially the Double Black. This was done through interactive sessions with Zbignew and Chef Sandip who created cocktails that accentuated the taste of the various ingredients that went into the whiskey; and pair them with food that would complement the taste. Zbignew (who reminds me a lot of Simon Pegg) kicked off the evening with a brief session on some of the things about whiskey that are true and some of it we’ve assumed to be true thanks to marketing. (Why do the product guys always dislike us marketing guys so much? Got to keep the revenues going!!!)
|Chef Sandip Narang|
We kicked off the evening with a Double Black Raisin Sour Cocktail. This cocktail was created to accentuate the flavour of raisins. Made from raisin syrup, freshly squeezed lemon juice, a hint of egg white and Double Black, this drink was very mild, almost like a spritzer. The flavour of raisins was very tough to pick up immediately. This drink was paired with an assortment of cheese which was a nice and safe combination.
|Double Black Raisin Sour|
The second drink for the evening was the Double Black Oaky Apple. As the name suggests this concoction of oak aged Port wine and citrus oils, topped with green apple foam highlights the taste of green apples. I enjoyed this drink as the fresh taste of the apples dominates the flavour and slowly makes way for the smokiness of the Double Black. A very refreshing cocktail indeed. The food paired with this cocktail was a serving of smoked ham which was an excellent choice as the saltiness of the ham coupled with the sweetness of green apple hit all the right spots in my mouth.
|Double Black Oaky Apple|
Cocktail number three was the Double Black and Berry. Designed to emphasize the taste of blackberries, this cocktail comprises of blackberry syrup, freshly squeezed lime juice, some ginger ale and Johnnie Walker Double Black. While blackberry reminds me of the horrible phone that my work place has given to ensure I’m “always connected in case of an emergency”, the drink did nothing to remove my notion that anything to with blackberry can be worthwhile. While I thought I was being biased, most of the folks at the table had the same feeling. This particular cocktail was apparently a hit during a similar session in Delhi. But I guess our taste buds down south are more refined (ducks after making a quick jab at Delhi folks). Even after sitting a while in my mouth, the flavour of blackberries was not evident at all. Accompanying this cocktail was a helping of lamb chops. While the lamb chops were overdone in my opinion, the saviour was the fig sauce that made one to ignore the texture of the meat.
|Double Black and Berry|
The penultimate cocktail was the Double Black Maple Masala. The interesting twist to this one was the garam masala infused maple syrup. Kept very simple, this drink adds the syrup with some bitters to the whiskey. This drink had a very interesting blend of flavours including the smokey flavour of the whiskey, the earth flavour of the maple syrup and the spiciness of the garam masala. This drink is something I one can easily make at home, and it was my favourite concoction for the evening. And like a marriage made in heaven, this was accompanied by excellent Galouti kabab. There was even a variant of the same made out of yam for the vegetarians. You couldn’t tell one apart from the other. This was the high point of the evening. (Pun not intended).
|Double Black Maple Masala|
We closed the evening with a simple classic neat Johnnie Walker Double Black which was followed by a delicious chocolate and walnut cake.
This evening was not only fun in terms of experiencing new flavours, but I came back feeling a whole lot wiser about whiskey. A super job by Zbignew in making some very interesting cocktails and keeping everyone engaged through out.