Sunday, March 16, 2008

Zero Tolerance

Posted from New Delhi, India

From the very beginning, we knew that getting a refreshing, frosty, adult beverage was unlikely in India. Between Hinduism and Islam, drinking isn't entirely smiled upon. In fact, whole cities are dry. But it's possible to find alcohol here and there. The local beer is Kingfisher, and it can be found just about everywhere. But that's the rub -- it's everywhere. If you want a beer, it's going to be a Kingfisher (if you look around really hard, you can find Cobra and Foster's too, but they really aren't any better). Kingfisher is an ok beer. It's a lager; the brewers evidently took the best recipe Old Milwaukee had, but made little headway in improving it. If the beer is ice cold, it can be very refreshing on a hot day, but after two months, I need something else.

And don't think for a minute that you can find a decent mixed drink to fill the gap left by Kingfisher's mediocrity. Just like their tea, Indians like their liquor syrupy sweet. We were in Cochin when we decided that we NEEDED a drink. I ordered a Cuba Libre, one of my stand-bys at home, and when it arrived, I was so shocked by its sweetness that I looked like Popeye. Even though there was technically liquor somewhere in that glass, I wasn't about to swim through the sea of sugar to get to it.

What's worse is that most of the liquor is local. Why import millions of bottles of quality liquor when you have a labor force of 1 billion that can turn out an average bottle of liquor in less time? If you look down a bar menu, it's a guarantee that you've never heard of most of the brands of liquor: VAT69, Black & White, Bagpiper, and so on. Even buying just a shot and a mixer separately leaves you smacking your lips, wondering if you really did order rum or maple syrup in a highball.

The point of all this is that I need a drink. A good, stiff drink. It's been months since I've had a decent martini, and I'll wait as long as I have to to get one. But I really need a beer, a hand-crafted, microbrew that's NOT a lager. So if anyone is looking to buy me a drink when I get home, I like my martini slightly dirty, extra dry, up with extra olives and I desperately need an ice-cold Dogfish Head 90-minute IPA. If you even consider sending a Miller Light my way, prepare to get wet. That is all.


Andy said...

Would be my pleasure to serve you whatever your palate desires sir. In the meantime ... hang in there!

Cris said...

Beer is yucky. Consider yourself lucky not to have to drink it.

My husband is currently trying to teach our 5-month old how to say da-da.