We celebrated our first anniversary by doing four Instagram Live sessions. With professionals from different walks in the food and beverage space joining in, it was an exhilarating day with more than 700 participants signing up for all the sessions. The guest list included names like Aneesh Bhasin, co-founder of Svami, Nikhil Agarwal, sommelier and head of All Things Nice, Gauri Devidayal, co-founder of The Table, Magazine Street Kitchen, Iktara and Mei 13 and Ajit Balgi, India’s youngest cognac educator and founder of The Happy High bartending school.
As expected, we also learnt quite a bit from our speakers. Here are just 10 of the main takeaways from our #GurglTurns1 live chat.
1 – Svami recently launched its latest variant of tonic water called 3 Cal. Simply put, the brand has also three calories compared to over 60 calories found in a Schweppes bottle. With this, Svami is looking to enter the health space with its tonic water. As Aneesh said, “At 5 PM, your options for snacking all include unhealthy options.”
2 – Svami is looking at entering the ‘sober curious’ or zero-proof drinks space soon. Aneesh said that the mandate at Svami is to make scalable products and something in this space fits perfectly with the company. The expected rollout of the new product line is tentatively scheduled for July 2020.
3 – Aneesh also said that people are using the lockdown creatively and learning to make new things. He himself has been on a roll trying to use ice blocks creatively and upping his barista game.
4 – Nikhil Agarwal said that there are some persistent wine myths but the biggest is that wine and Indian food don’t pair well. This is mostly because most literature around wine comes from the West but wines and Indian dishes are actually a great flavour combination.
5 – When it comes to whisky, we are nation of lovers but our intrinsic knowledge of the drink rarely matches our love for the drink. Nikhil, along with the Edinburgh Whisky Academy, is hoping to change that with as many online and offline sessions as possible.
6 – Gauri Devidayal took a deep dive into the state of the restaurant industry and the prognosis wasn’t great. With more than 60% fixed costs in terms of rent, salaries etc, the operating margins for eating joints will be severely tested without any government intervention.
7 – Despite facing an uncertain future, restaurateurs like Gauri are leading the effort to feed the disadvantaged amongst us with free meals. With more than 1 million meals delivered, the initiative called Feed The Needy by National Restaurant Association of India is only getting started. Please consider donating to them here.
8 – Ajit Balgi said that cognac has probably featured less in Indian restaurants and cocktail mixes because of its perception as an older man’s drink as well as a high price point. The latter is also the reason why single malt whiskies don’t feature in too many cocktail menus.
9 – When it comes to cognac, there are only three labels that Indians need to learn for now. These include VS, VSOP and XO that basically informs the age of cognac. VS stands for Very Special and is aged in oak barrels for a minimum of two years, VSOP stands for Very Special Old Pale and is aged for at least four years while XO stands for Extra Old and denotes cognac that has been aged for 10 years.
10 – When it comes to bartending, Ajit believes that we’ve scratched just one percent of what’s possible and there are many techniques, ingredients and types of drinks that should be explored. He’s also looking at options to name bartenders so that they can introduce themselves more professionally. Something like ‘chef’ with four characters that bartenders can add to their name and stand out. If you have any suggestions do let us know in the comments below.
With so much knowledge gained from our speakers and some fun banter, it was indeed a day to remember as #GurglTurns1 came to an end last evening. We thank each speaker and participant who joined us and we promise to do something bigger and better next year.
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Priyanko Sarkar is the Founder Editor of Gurgl.in. He has been a writer for over 15 years and this site is his attempt to document India's growing beverage sector with impactful and interesting stories. His favourite drink is Vietnamese Coffee and his favourite spirit is Turkish Raki.