Article

Getting Tipsy Over Coconut

Three ways to celebrate the brilliance of the tropical fruit in a glass

By Madhulika Dash, Picture and recipe source - Diageo

… and then there was coconuts.

We all would like to think that there is such a biblical story of how coconuts – one of the most popular tropical fruit – first appeared on earth. But when it comes to history – both believed, deciphered and otherwise – there is little explanation followed except for the fact that each old text calls it the tree of life. Even our own ancient texts refer to coconut palm as the Kalpavriksha, the tree that fulfils all the necessity of life. And in many ways, it has been the all giving tree (read: blessing).

It is the only other moo that we would lap up with an ease of a habit, the juice we prefer over any other drink, the sweet flesh which is a key essential in most of our sweet dishes – even when dried it makes for a great flavourant that can crank up the taste of any dish, base ingredient notwithstanding. It is our first sweetener (jaggery) as well; and is the base of one of the finest distilled spirit too (feni). In richness and usage, it is perhaps the only natural alternative that rivals milk – and in goodness too. Thanks to its innumerable direct uses as food, feed, and drink, this beach fruit has effectively penetrated into the social, religious, and lingual matrix of most cultures across the world – even those that do not have access to this multifaceted nut. Of course, what adds to its omnipresence is that it survives till 40 years and can be grafted with ease

The result, coconut remains one of the ancient fruit-food that still is relevant today – and seem to sweep into any form of trend. Be it the new lactose free baking spree, the keto diet, the vegan drive or more recently, cocktails.

What however makes it a bartender’s delight, says seasoned bartender Aman Dua, “is not just the wide variety but the brilliant textural and taste play that one can do with minimum techniques. Like charring the ends of a coconut flesh can create this caramelised feel to a drink; the foam made of the milk can lend not only the sweetness but this palate coating warmth that can accentuate the mouthfeel of a drink.”

Concurs fellow bartender Avinash Kapoli (Bacardi) who finds coconut as one of the go-to ingredients while reworking an old classic to appeal to the younger drinking palate. “Coconut’s beauty is when incorporated intelligently, it can create these layers of interesting sip that can lend a newness to any old drinks, and works well with all possible spirit including whisky and rum.”

In fact, a few years ago, when bars in India decided to go sustainable, coconut – thanks to its traditional usage – became the choice for sensible bartenders across India. The inclination came partly because of coconut shell’s own history as a glassware. Coconut broke into the coterie of cocktail glassware back in the 1700s when sailors poured their dram in the shell to enjoy it over a lazy afternoon or evening and later post World War II when coladas and rum-based cocktails were served in it both as a cool quotient and to signify peace. Of course, the continuation of this partly out of need and partly innovative concept was coconut’s ability to lend newer taste foreplays to a drink, says legendary bartender Yangdup Lama (co-owner, Sidecar), who finds it an extremely versatile ingredient to work with, especially if one has to look at the sheer variations in which coconut can be used as.

One of the first to revive the culture of using coconut as a flavourant instead of the commercial syrups, Lama’s love for coconut stems out of the nut’s exceptional ability to inspire – and its effectiveness as a base for any spirit. “Coconut in its various moods can offer ample foreplay to a drink that can negate the want of any other ingredient except for a spirit,” says Dua, who now works with coconut cream to work with other overpowering spices like pepper and jhakia. An excellent example of this brilliant nut is the Brazilian Batida de coco and of course beach special, Pina Colada.

On this coconut day, we get Asmani Subramanian, Brand Ambassador at Diageo India, to share a few coconut-based cocktails with Whisky that are sweet and a great place to start your coconut journey in a glass.

PINE BY ME

Glass: Highball
Ingredients:

60 ml Black & White Scotch Whisky
90 ml Fresh Pineapple Juice
10 ml Blue Curaçao
20 ml Coconut Syrup
10 ml Lime Juice
Garnish: Pineapple leaf and Coconut Slices

Method:

Add all the ingredients in a blender with ice cubes and blend well.
Garnish with pineapple leaf and coconut slices and serve
(Image Credit: Chef Ranveer Brar)

BLACK & WHITE COCO FIZZ

Glass: Wine Glass or Highball
Ingredients:
60 ml Black & White Scotch Whisky
90 ml Coconut Water
20 ml Sweet Coconut Milk
20 ml Coconut Syrup
30 ml Soda
Cardamom Pod (optional)

Garnish: Pineapple Leaf or Hibiscus Flower

Method:

Add all the ingredients except the soda, in a shaker
Add a handful of ice cubes and shake well
Fine strain into a glass filled with ice cubes
Top with a splash of soda
Garnish with a hibiscus flower or dried coconut flakes and serve

COCO CACAO

Glass: Hot Chocolate Mug
Ingredients:

60 ml Black & White Scotch Whisky
30 ml Sweet Coconut Milk
90 ml Hot Chocolate

Garnish: Coconut Chocolate or Dried Coconut Flakes

Method:

Prepare Hot Chocolate, add in the whisky and sweetened coconut milk (you can use unsweetened coconut milk too).
Mix well.
Garnish with coconut chocolate or dried coconut flakes and serve

COCONUT OLD FASHIONED

Glass: Rock
Ingredients:

60 ml Coconut Fat Washed Black & White Scotch Whisky
20 ml Honey Syrup
2 dash of Bitters

Garnish: Orange Twist & 1 Star Anise or Dehydrated coconut Slice

Method:

Stir all the ingredients with ice cubes.
Fine strain into a chilled glass
Garnish with an orange twist and serve
Steps to make a coconut fat washed Black & White
Melt 120 ml of coconut oil if its hardened, cool it down and pour the liquid fat into a glass jar/ empty jam bottle
Add 500 ml of Black & White Scotch Whisky, put the lid on the jar and give it a nice shake
Leave it at room temperature for about 4 to 5 hours for the flavours to infuse, then put the jar in the freezer overnight
The next day, the fat would have solidified on top of the spirit. Using a knife, make a hole through the congealed fat and pour the spirit through a fine strainer lined with a cheesecloth.
If required, fine strain again through a coffee filter to remove any left- over solids.