Virgin Mary



A lonely glass of juice or cola looking wistfully at an exotic Cosmopolitan or a Pina Colada. Boring teetotalers! Not necessarily true. Unless you want it so. The rules of looking good apply universally and do not have to be partial to cocktails. Good looking glassware is out there on shop-shelves just waiting for you to pick them up. And you can use them to perfect advantage to serve anything from a simplest juice to an exotic mocktail. Why, even water looks brighter in a nicer glass.

The rules are the same. Lots of ice, slices of fresh fruit and mint, stylish glasses will elevate even the most ordinary drink. Try half a slice of sweet lime or orange in a soft drink or even iced water or fresh lime. Some fresh mint sprigs over jal jira. A green chilli & fresh coriander over buttermilk or a sprinkling of roasted jeera over aam panna.

There’s this whole pile of coolers that are just not sweet and are absolutely delicious. You all know of jal jira and buttermilk. Then there’s `sol kadi’. Now you can make this in two ways.  The first time I tasted the stuff was in Goa. What you do is soak some fresh `kokum’ in water overnight. Then drain the liquid and flavour it with salt, finely chopped green chillies and corriander (kothmir) leaves. Pour it on ice and voila, pure delight. The other way is to soak the kokum in coconut milk, the flavouring remaining constant.

You could make yourself a Virgin Mary. That’s spicy tomato juice and is very simple. Rim your glass by dampening the rim with a wedge of lime and dipping it in a plate of salt. Then fill the glass with ice, squeeze in the juice of ½ a lime, add 1,2 tsp of Worcestershire sauce (available  everywhere),  1 teaspoon or more of Tabasco/Capsico sauce and top with tomato juice. Stir and drink through the salt.

I thought up this new combination while working on the article and it turned out great. What I did is cut up two cucumbers, ½ a raw mango, a green chilli, some corriander leaves, a 4″ cube of coconut and put the lot in the blender. Next I added 6 large cubes of ice, juice of ½ lime, ½ cup of yoghurt (dahi), some salt, then blended the mixture till it was smooth. It gave me two very satisfying glasses.

Let’s elevate the simple `iced tea’ to greater heights. All you have to do is flavour the tea with aromatics such as orange peel, lemon grass or ginger before you pour it on ice and you’ve got three new iced tea recipes. Of course, you now get Manama crushes to make flavoured fruit iced tea in peach, strawberry, litchi… Fill a stylish beer pilsner glass with ice. Add generous measure of lemon juice, sugar to taste, lots of mint leaves and pour in hot tea. Stir and top with more ice. Garnish with a fruit slice and more mint.

And what better way to start than by mixing a thousand milkshakes and generously dousing them with ice cream. Fresh strawberries, chickoo, mango, banana; the more usual cold coffee and chocolate which get super when treated with butterscotch ice cream. Serve them in stemmed beer goblets or footed pilsners. Garnish with fruit, wafer biscuits or Kit Kat.

`Pina Colada’ is everybody’s favourite drink. It isn’t difficult at all to make, with or without the white rum. I like to rim the glass by dipping it in a little pineapple juice and then into a plate of desiccated coconut. Put 4-5 cubes of crushed ice in a blender, add 120 ml pineapple juice, a scoop of vanilla ice cream, a tbsp of cream, 60ml coconut milk from Dabur and blend. Pour into the rimmed glass. And if you change the juice to mango – it’s a cool mango colada!

Then there are the frozen mixes. Of course you need to work a little extra and make crushed ice, but it’s worth the effort. Simply fill a jug with the crushed ice, add a Manama dessert topping flavour of your choice (they have a huge range – strawberry, litchi, peach-apricot, kiwi…), lime juice, some soda or lemonade and slush it together using a hand blender. Pour into a nice stemmed glass and garnish with fruit or mint.

Make an exotic punch using frozen lychees or pineapple with coconut water, even frozen watermelon with pineapple juice. Pour into stemmed wine glasses.

They’re simple, easily accessible and quick. They also taste and look very good.