YOU DON'T REALLY NEED AN OCCASION TO LEAN OVER the counter and ask the bartender for a bellini or a caipirinha. But along comes one our way. World Cocktail Week . It’s been around for a while now; kicked off in 2006 to mark the 200th year of the cocktail and instituted to promote appreciation for the craft of the cocktail. Of the many questions that I can think of asking on the subject, the one I’ve always wanted to know is - why is a cocktail called a cocktail at all?
Having had the pleasure of the company of some distinguished and pioneering mixologists, I’ve been privy to more than two dozen possibilities on origins. The one I like to go with is that the person who coined the vexing term, invoked/channeled or just meant to refer to Xochitl (meaning ‘flower feather’), the Aztec goddess of flowers, beauty, craftsmanship and love. Whichever way, it’s perfect because these are ideals that every worthy mixologist channels when they craft a cocktail for that edgy goblin waiting to grab the sling and spill a life story or two.
Then again, there’s a story behind the name of every cocktail classic worth knowing. It could be a great bar game to sit around with friends, shake up the names of cocktails on the menu and spin out a story. Something like: riding in a sidecar on your cosmopolitan honeymoon with Tom Collins, while being targetted by a B52 flown by a Kamikaze with a rusty nail in his Pimm’s.
Games aside, all the events lined up for World Cocktail Week (6th May to 13th May) make this the best possible occasion to understand the rhyme behind picking your cocktail. The dry, fruity and fresh cocktails are generally suited in the run-up to dinner, others, particularly the rich and creamy sets are best leftfor after meals. There are of course a whole league of cocktails that don’t need any meal schedule checking at all. Nothing’s written in stone of course, and here’s a chance to figure out what rocks your boat.
The one place to best do this is ITC Grand Chola, Chennai, where you’ll get to wear a Bittersweet Blush as you work your way through a Chola Rich in the Sunday Garden as Your Majesty’s Spirit puts on a Black Blazer to serve you a bit of Punter’s Panacea that you’ll well be needing this IPL season.
Those in other cities have something to catch up with too - there's a festival of summer coolers at Kolkata's ITC Sonar, and a mojito do at Agra's ITC Mughal - all through the month of May,