May 09, 2016
Few things complete a visit to the beach, like a delicious cocktail! And there’s really no better time than summer to indulge in these drinks, loaded with the freshest fruit and other produce, spiked with your favourite alcohol, topped to the brim with ice.
In Goa, the beginning of summer also means the cashew-picking season is upon us. And with it comes Feni season, starting with the freshest urrack (the first press of the distillation process when making feni). As the season progresses, we get to enjoy the lushest varieties of Goan mangoes like Mankurad and Hilario that quite easily give the much lauded Alphonso a good run for its money. It’s the time when we load up on cooling local produce like kokum, mint and cucumbers that incidentally make great additions to some of our favourite cocktails.
Beat the heat with this selection of summer’s best cocktails, inspired by local produce and some of our most-loved ingredients.
Firefly Goan Bistro and Bar, Benaulim: Just off the Benaulim beach, is a delightfully chill and inviting restaurant with a menu that is an eclectic mix of a sampling of many cuisines. Popular for their Goan fare, but most of all for their formidable collection of Feni-based cocktails, this is a must-try if you want to taste Feni in a range of different avatars. The Tambde Rosa is highly recommended. Refreshing, cooling and vibrant it is made from coconut feni, birindao, the extract of kokum that lends its rich ruby hue, and adequately blended with lime and mint to finish it off. It is as refreshing to look at as it sounds!
Also sample the Cazulo Capitao, which is a sprightly, zesty lemon-based cocktail – a mix of freshly-squeezed lime juice for a citric hit, with a punch of Feni, laced with white sugar, shaked and served over plenty of crushed ice. This one will keep you cool and ensure that you are energetic right through the day.
The Blacksheep Bistro, Panjim: This one takes their farm-to-table concept very seriously, extending it even to their beverage menu. Using seasonal ingredients like dill, coriander, betel leaves, freshly-brewed tea, ginger, chillies and a host of other produce, they boast a super creative cocktail menu that makes this chic place one of the best bars in town. The Dill Fling is a popular favourite amongst gin-loving folks – a heady, but smooth mix of cucumber, fresh dill, gin and lime beautifully emulsified with an egg white – is quite easily summer in a cocktail glass!
If you’re the kind who likes some heat to cool off, the Amante Picante is your best bet. It has a distinctly familiar Indian flavour, thanks to the coriander and cucumber served with a hit of tequila, lime and green chilli for that extra punch.
Antares, Vagator: At Antares, the brand new beach-side restaurant frontlined by MasterChef Australia finalist, Sarah Todd, the cocktails are one of the biggest lures. With an unparalleled view, it is one of the best spots in town to watch the sunset. Catching sundowners are now a reality because you no longer have to settle for brightly-coloured generic cocktails. Here, fresh produce and innovative combinations make for seriously delicious cocktails that will match up to the gorgeous views. Try the Summer Abroad, the summer-friendly drink on the menu – cucumber, ginger, mint and lime – with a splash of gin, making it cool, invigorating and perfect for a hot day. If you’re into sweeter, fruity concoctions, the Spicy Mango is a wicked combination of fresh seasonal mangoes, with a sneaky touch of local green chillies that perfectly match the spicy hit of vodka, making it one yummy drink.
ALSO WATCH: An Interview With Sarah Todd
So, if you find yourself in Goa this summer, ditch the run-of-the-mill cocktails you can have anywhere in the world and try something unique and locally inspired.
The author is a writer and blogger, amateur photographer and self-taught home cook all wrapped in one!