Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Molecular Mixology

El Bulli pioneered the concept of molecular gastronomy that has seen worldwide popularity. But how much do you know about molecular mixology? Read on to find out how to experiment with your cocktails using this technique

The concept
Molecular Mixology is a special practice of mixing drinks using scientific analysis and techniques to understand and experiment with cocktail ingredients on a molecular level. Inspired by the practice of molecular gastronomy (which works in a similar way with food dishes, wherein the dish is completely deconstructed into different elements, but tasting it together retains its original state) this practice has become a popular study of many mixologists. “It is very interesting from the research point of view, and really opens up a new era for cocktail making,” informs Richard Lambert, Cointreau’s Global Brand Ambassador. Through this method, one can create a wide variety of flavours, unique combinations and attractive presentation. You can try gels, powders, foams and even atomised sprays.

How it works
“We, for example, transform fruit juices into foams by thickening its texture using yeast and then carbonate to spray them on shots of different flavours. Another practice is to create little fruit caviar balls, which we add to our drinks. There are limitations when it comes to technique, but the opportunities are endless when it comes to what we can do with the flavours,” explains Lakhan Jethani, owner of I BAR.

Enter: India
Jethani is one of the first few to introduce this concept in his interactive bar and lounge. He says, “The concept is big abroad and has been around for quite some time. Now that people are more open to newer things here in India, with the bar culture changing, I feel that it will be well accepted now.” And he couldn’t be more accurate, as the feedback from his guests has been very positive. “They simply love the way the cocktails and shots taste, and appreciate the surprise element when they have it for the first time. People are open to suggestions and trying new flavours. Especially the women; they love the foam shots in innovative and fruity flavours.”

On his recent visit to India, Lambert was pleasantly surprised at the overwhelming response he received from the bartenders and mixologists in India. “More and more bartending professionals understand the importance of blending cocktails and trying new techniques. It was an eye opening experience.”

Signature cocktail
“I have always enjoyed mixing cocktails, but creating a cocktail for Ms. Dita Von Teese was a memorable moment for me. While creating the cocktail, I kept in mind Dita’s sumptuous and seductive image of controversial Ambassadress and burlesque artiste. It resulted in Cointreau Teese. She adores violets, so this flower stood out as the obvious choice. Like her, this drink is subtle and incredibly refined.


Pour into a shaker with ice:
  • 50ml (1.6 fl oz) Cointreau
  • 30ml (1 fl oz) Cranberry juice
  • 20ml (0.6 fl oz) Lemon juice

Shake and strain into a martini glass.

The bartender's tip: add the orange zest to your drink.

•    One can add different ingredients like fruits and spices, and it tastes even better.

Recipe courtesy: Cointreau

- Featured in Time 'n Style Luxury magazine's December 2011 issue, with inputs from my  colleague Alisha Fernandes

Thursday, 21 June 2012

5 websites that can help you save money in New York

Isn’t that the dream? Well, they may not find you free lodging, but they offer a comprehensive list of events in the city that are either free or almost free of charge. Their list of events are quite impressive: invitation to see a collection of short films, wine tastings, movie screenings, special giveaways at bakeries and cafes, massages, a spot in the audience of an MTV show, Broadway show tickets, auditions to dazzle the audience with your comic capers at the Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and if you’re lucky, you could even meet James Cameron, John Cusack or Matt Bomer. I had you at free, didn’t I?

They are also on Twitter: @LivingfreeNYC

Want to be in the audience on The Bill Cunningham Show

With more than 40 million visitors every year, and innumerable stores, restaurants, cafes and bars, the iconic illuminated signs and life-size billboards that are the area is known for, Times Square is undoubtedly one of New York’s busiest areas and a true tourist trap…I mean haven. In a bid to improve and promote Times Square and all the businesses that occupy the area, The Times Square Alliance was founded in 1992. It also manages the Times Square Visitor Center that is spread over 6,000 square feet and a free-entry mini-museum with unique exhibits that tell the story of Times Square. Sign up for their newsletter and get regular updates on the latest news, varied exhibits, performances, sale announcements, hotels and restaurants discounts, free yoga classes, and many more fun events. 

They are also on Twitter: @TimesSquareNYC

If you’re visiting New York, don’t leave without seeing a Broadway musical. This past December and January drew huge crowds with musicals that featured Hugh Jackman, Daniel Radcliffe and Bradley Cooper. But the tickets are rather pricey. On my visit in December, Hugh Jackman, Back on Broadway was playing and the prices went up to $350. However, being on a tiny budget, I knew I wouldn’t be able to afford great seats. But I really wanted to see a Broadway musical nonetheless. So, I tried Nytix.com for discounted tickets. Although the seats were way at the back, I managed to get tickets for a musical called Memphis for a mere $25. It was truly a steal!

Aside from Broadway show tickets, the website also offers great discounts on TV shows tapings, parking (which is rather expensive in USA; a minimum of $10-20 an hour), restaurants, and New York City sightseeing tours. Subscribe to their email newsletters to get regular listings on latest restaurants, articles on TV programs such as The Late Show with David Letterman and The Today Show, and tips on exploring NYC while saving substantially.

They are also on Twitter: @nytix. They are not active at all though, so it’s best to subscribe to their newsletter.

The stage afire during the Memphis musical

The problem with a popular touristy destination is the unavoidable queue when sightseeing. Even the offbeat traveller will want to get up onto Empire State building or check out the iconic Statue of Liberty. The CityPASS is an effective way to ditch that queue (at least a huge chunk of it). In a nutshell, the CityPASS (also available in several cities across USA) is a compilation of admission tickets to New York’s top 6 attractions. The booklet includes detailed information, such as the timings, location, tips and a mini map, of the chosen attractions. It is valid for 9 days from the first day of use. But make sure you DO NOT tear out any of the passes from the booklet. This is one of their main rules, as renders it unusable. You can pick it up at any of the below-mentioned attractions, have it sent to you or print it out from their website.

The selected attractions are the Empire State Building with admission to the 86th Floor Observatory, The Metropolitan Museum of Art with a $1 off of audio tour should you choose to purchase it, general admission to the Guggenheim Museum, general admission to MoMA (The Museum of Modern Art) general admission to the Top of the Rock Observation Deck at the 30 Rockefeller Plaza, general admission to the Statue of Liberty (the pass doesn’t include tickets to walk up to the crown or to enter the pedestal or museum) and the Ellis Island Immigration Museum via a ferry ride taken either from Battery Park in NYC or Liberty Park in New Jersey, and a Circle Line Cruise, which includes one regularly scheduled 2-hour Semi-Circle Cruise, 2-hour Harbor Lights Cruise, or 75-minute Liberty Cruise, all of which offer magnificent views of the city skyline and the Statue of Liberty.

The cost: $89 for adults, $64 for young ones between the ages of 6-17 years

Fair warning: Don’t expect to simply walk right in at any of these sites. A short queue is inevitable even in off-season as NYC sees millions of tourists every year. So there may be a short line, but be rest assured it will be quicker to get in with the CityPASS.

They are also on Twitter: @CityPASS

New York is notorious for its designer shopping and the uber famous 5th Avenue with its unaffordable couture stores. I was looking for a formal outfit to wear to the Golden Globes 2012. It’s a lot of pressure to make sure you’re at least remotely able to match up to the room-full of celebrities I would be around. But seeing how expensive the outfits were, not even close to a possible budget, my friend Arathi suggested RentTheRunway.com. It allows you to rent chic designer fashion at extremely affordable prices; be it apparel, jewellery or accessories. And that’s not all. It has some great features that make it user-friendly.

The categories are numerous—the divisions are as per colour, type of outfit, etc.—making it easier for you to navigate. All outfits come with suggestions of accessories that match, and a list of size options. The one thing that worried me was the fit. I wanted to be sure the size I order for fits perfectly, otherwise it would be a complete disaster on the day of the event. To make things easier, they offer you 2 sizes so that if one doesn’t fit, the other will. In addition, you can speak to their stylists, either on the website’s Live Chat or via email, and send them your measurements so that they can suggest the right size for you. I consulted the stylists and their size estimation was perfect. It’s really easy to return as well. You don’t have to wash/dry clean; simply return the outfit in the package it came in and that is it! Their only drawback is that they don’t have shoes.

Quick tip: Check out the availability of the outfit you like and order it on time; especially during festive occasions. I waited a few days and lost out on a great gown due to unavailability!

They are also on Twitter: @RentTheRunway    

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