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Goa - a land synonymous with its pristine beaches, an idyllic way of life and the quintessential Royal Enfield with a drink in one’s hand sitting and watching the waves crash upon the shore. It is this ‘susegad’ state of mind that attracts tourists year after year to this Shangri-la. However, there is a not so silent movement in the consumption pattern of alcohol being produced in our fine state. Yes, you heard it right- produced that have the yearning drinking audience head on over for some unusual makes both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. Entrepreneurs these days are focusing on homegrown methods making Goa home to some exotic offerings. Here is a rundown of must-try drinks when you visit Goa next.
One must Start off with Feni - the pride and joy of Goa have found its younger roots in Cazulo. This drink is as synonymous to Goa as Sake is the Japan and Tequila to Mexico. With a GI badge under its belt, it is truly the must-have drink to sample and explore the state with. For two generations, the folks at Dona Maria have been taking great care in preserving invaluable heritage; bottling only the finest Feni. This family-owned Feni bottling unit began in 1982, by 'Wilson' and 'Melanie Vaz' in a humble outhouse in their family home in Cuncolim, in South Goa. Today their three young sons, the family's second generation, Clinton, Hansel and Donovan, continue to uphold the high standards of the founder by sourcing Feni with a better taste, quality and an emphasis for the time-honoured craftsmanship. Options to try are the Cashew & Coconut variants.
Next up is Rum in the Sun with the Coconut infused Cabo. This white rum is an alternative to the famous Malibu, and many a time has played twin brother in blind tastings. And what is more, it goes famously well with a multitude of base cocktails. Sip back and relax preferably under a coconut tree for company.
Whiskey drinkers can take pride in Paul John. Hailing from the contemporary oasis, enticed by 6-row barley from the foothills of the Himalayas amalgamated with the indigenous Indian ingredients from the bays of Goa; the beautiful spirit of life was created. Established in 1992, John Distilleries has been channelized under the stalwart 'Mr. Paul P John', the chairman of John Distilleries. After charting his way through the lanes of Scotland, and investigating on the country’s distillation and whisky culture, it occurred to him to embrace and yield single malt made in India not just for the Indians to relish but for the whole world to experience - The Great Indian Single Malt.
Next on the list is DesmondJi, that opens up a mind-boggling multitude of delectable drinking options for the spirit-connoisseurs, the Margarita swillers, the cocktail clubbers, the work-weary executives, the word weary writers, ladies in search of their trademark drink or whichever label you prefer. With the latest Mahua offering and Agave from 100% to 51% proof, try giving DesmondJi products a shot, mix in a cocktail or sip as is, and you are likely to be pleasantly taken aback, if not floored!
For the Bond-inspired drinkers, a new Gin wave has thronged our fair land much to appeasement of a larger growing populace. Greater Than, Hapusa and Stranger & Sons have all amassed a cult based following with their artisanal gins. With Stranger & Sons botanical notes of Juniper takes centre stage and other botanicals like nutmeg, mace, coriander, angelica, cassia bark, liquorice and pepper double up to add that ‘extra’ punch.
Last but definitely not the least are the microbreweries cropping up much to the Homer lovers of Beer in Goa. With bottling plants and breweries mushrooming up the list throws a packed punch to outside brands rivalling and surpassing many of them. Susegado and Goa Brewing Company with their famous IPA - Eight Finger Eddie spoils one’s taste buds for anything other than their brew. It is addictive. Arbor and Kings have gone the canned/bottled way with Arbor recently launching retro designed flavours - Smooth Criminal - the strong spiced ale, Easy Rider - the American wheat ale and Beach Shack - the Indian Pale Ale.
With all these options to choose from on your next trip, this is going to be one heady affair.
An award winning photojournalist, Nolan is torn between food & travel. Having held multiple exhibitions across- he loves to capture the essence of a meal or moment through his lens. Known for his love of food he believes in making viewers salivate over drool worthy pictures, titilating their palates over social media. His photography added vivid dimensions through his contribution to the book The Culinary Heritage of Goa which won the Gourmand Best in the World for Historical recepies in 2015. Author of the ever popular food/travel blog www.nolansatwit.com, many have commonly referred to his wit or 'twit'iness. A recepient of the prestigious REX Karmaveer Chakra award by UNESCO he spends most of his time divided between sampling the various offerings of the gastronomic world and his unending quest for new and far flung places.