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Drink away the cold

Zubin Dsouza

There has been a lot of moaning and grousing off late.

There has been a cold snap and not too many people are happy about it.

The doomsday prophets have jumped onto the bandwagon and are busy proclaiming all kinds of retribution from the gods.

Some say that it is the harbinger of the apocalypse while others claim that these are symptoms of climate change and certain factions blame stupid government policies.

Personally I don’t get affected by the cold. In fact I quite welcome it.

When the temperatures dip, it becomes far more pleasant to work in a professional kitchen but now I am digressing!

People have always turned to drinks to chase away the cold.

Modern world hasn’t moved much ahead from that notion; it is just that our offerings are much more.

A person in the present era could probably decide to sit down and enjoy a sip from the Speyer wine bottle.

This bottle of wine which was discovered in Speyer, Germany and was nestled within the confines of an ancient Roman tomb in 1865 is over 1,700-years-old.

Although it is still safe to drink, the priceless provenance itself may make it quite the overkill for warming the cockles during winter.

Should you really want to drink out of an excavated bottle then there is nothing better than buried Kentucky bourbon.

A ritual prevalent in several southern states of the USA supposedly gives the performer power over inclement weather. Apparently if a bottle of bourbon is buried upside down a month before a wedding, it ensures clear skies on the big day. The bottle is then unearthed and shared with all. It is quite the romantic albeit dusty gesture.

Should you want to escape the digging hassles altogether, there is nothing better than the floral perfumed Dutch tulip vodka which may contain the extracts of up to 350 bulbs per bottle.

Should flowers, spice and everything nice not be up your alley, you could choose to try some Mexican vodka appropriately named Spike which is extracted from the prickly pear cactus.

In Sicily and Malta, the fruit of the prickly pear cactus yields a liqueur that is guaranteed to knock your socks off with its warmth.

If your preferences lie between the prickly and the floral then you must try Biska which is a mistletoe brandy that hails from the smallest city in the world. With a population of just about 20 people, the city of Hum in Croatia produces this alcohol from a recipe that is said to be about 2,000-years-old and left behind by the ancient Druids.

The best alcoholic drink for wintry days however, is the Bene’n’hot which has an amazing history behind it.

During World War I, the cold and wet weather on the Normandy shores made the fighting even more miserable for the British troops. They stumbled upon Benedictine, an herb infused liqueur which was created by Benedictine monks in 1510. They mixed this liqueur with equal parts of hot water to create a simple but effective masterpiece that kept them warm. The tradition continues to this day with over a 1000 bottles of this liqueur being consumed in this manner at the Burnley Miner’s Club in Lancashire that continues to serve this traditional tipple.

If you are like me and alcohol is not your scene then maybe you would love to try the Senegalese spice and coffee concoction known as Café Touba. This was developed by Cheikh Ahmadou Bamba, the Sufi saint and founder of the Senegalese city of Touba.

This drink was originally prepared to be an integral part of Sufi chanting. What distinguished this coffee from others is not the freshly roasted coffee beans or the brewing method but the spices that are thrown in. Apart from cloves which give it a distinctive flavour is a spice known as djar or ‘grains of Selim’ which is a rather indigenous find.

The Scandinavians have an even more novel approach to coffee drinking where they break an entire egg and mix it with coffee grounds. The mixture is then steeped in hot water which gives a clear mud tinted coffee without the traditional bitterness and muddy appearance.

In the Canary Islands they serve their coffee called barraquito which is alternately layered with condensed milk and cream.

My favourite however is the Horlicks malted milk which was meant for children but ended up being essential provisions on expeditions to both the North and South Poles!

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