Shatbhi Basu.
I received an invitation to a fantastic event recently, featuring Shatbhi Basu, Master Bar Tender, and the hostess of NDTV Good Times Show – In High Spirits. With over 33 years of experience, she introduced to us the heritage, distinct flavors and the true versatility of American whiskeys to the hospitality industry and media. Shatbhi Basu is the founder of the STIR Academy of Bar Tending at the Revival Restaurant – the first school in the country meant exclusively for bartenders. She gave us an insight into whiskeys at a point of time when American whiskey is gaining popularity in India. 

Seven Different Whiskeys of the Night.
I reached Shisha Reincarnated and seated myself. Shatbhi Basu was present, vivaciously moving around and she introduced to us the different kinds of whiskeys. In a lovely single tasting session, she introduced to us seven different whiskeys popular around America, which are now slowly getting popular in India, thanks to big names like Jack Daniels and Jim Beam. A mini power point session quickly explained the difference between Bourbon and Tennessee Whiskey, and their uniqueness. 

At the tasting session, the players were Jim Beam, Jim Beam Black, Maker’s Mark, Woodford Reserve, Jack Daniel’s, Gentleman Jack, and Jack Daniel’s Silver Secret. Each one of them were delightful in their own way, yet when Shatbhi Basu asked me which one was my favorite, I had to answer that I was probably bipolar. While Maker’s Mark was a beautiful, smooth, and to me, a full-bodied female drink which needed nothing more than ice, I  would love to consume Jack Daniel;s Silver Secret with nothing more than a bit of water and a few good friends, although it can easily be the male counterpart to Maker’s Mark, with its rich, banoffee pie notes, and a flavor which warms you to the core. 

Green and Black Olives, Cheese Straws, Toasted Walnuts
I sneaked in bits of olives and other canapes served while we were tasting. Frankly speaking, there were a number of things on the menu, and I was too concentrated on the drinks to eat much (epic food blogging fail) or photograph much. However, here’s what I could snap up.

Deep fried chicken on a stick. Fish Fingers.
There were deep fried chicken on a stick, which was coated in gram flour and fried. I felt that the gram flour made the chicken slightly dry, and the folks who were serving forgot to put the dip on our table which went with it. 

Mince Meat Canape, for lack of a better descriptive word.
A plate filled with thin crackers topped with some minced meat and herbs came our way next. These were pretty tasty, with a dry, mince meat topping and crisp cracker bottom. 

Fred and Ginger – Bourbon Whiskey, Ginger Ale, and myriad other things.
 At this point of time, the refreshing cocktails started coming our way. Out of the four cocktails I tasted, my favorite was Fred and Ginger, a highball glass filled with a gorgeous concoction that made me long for summer afternoons. 

The Fruit and Mint Julep which my friend was enjoying.
The Fruit and Mint Julep was a twist on the traditional mint julep, and while I am a mint julep fan, this one was, frankly speaking, way too diluted for my taste. I rather preferred the Whiskey Sour, which came to me in a lovely lowball glass, with notes of lemon and Jim Beam clearly shining through. 

But, my other favorite was this choco-nut concoction which had peanut butter, chocolate syrup, bourbon whiskey and cream in it. It was a lovely twist on Bailey’s. More than me, my friend A was interested in my glass, and we shared a lovely chat while sipping this drink.

Shatbhi Basu was a gracious hostess and a wonderful lady, and I learned a lot from her. I am very interested in the fact that she is behind STIR and I believe that bartending in India does have a nice future, just like American Whiskey. 

Disclaimer: Poorna Banerjee attended the event Tasting Session on American Whiskey and American whiskey Cocktail Creation with Shatbhi Basu as a guest of the Beam group. However, all opinions are her own and unbiased. 
Written by Poorna Banerjee

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