Round 3 – Keralan Chai Punch
I got a bottle of Lemongrass extract with Craft Gin Club one month, having never heard of Holy Lama Spice Drops before I was very intrigued by how they would work. The product comes in a little bottle with a pipette and clear instructions on the packaging. Instructions which I obviously completely ignored and instead, went on my usual spice theory…mild is bland, medium is mild, hot is medium…you get the idea. One drop surely wont be enough flavour…oh how wrong I was! I can’t begin to explain the intensity of flavour in one tiny little drop of this. Needless to say that cocktail was quickly diluted and became a punch, which apparently wasn’t a punch as you will find out when you read on.
The story of Holy Lama Naturals began in the 1940’s and spans three generations of a family. To try to put the journey in a nutshell would not do it justice, and I can almost guarantee I would miss out an essential detail, instead, I suggest having a look at the Our Story section of their website, it doesn’t take long to read and is fascinating. Holy Lama Naturals offer spice drops and body care products, for now, we’re just focusing on the spice drops.
Arriving back at The Ginpourium bar, I was greeted by the warm smile of Gouri Kubair, who is not only the Managing Director of Holy Lama Naturals but also part of the Deo family. She asked if I’d used the products and I gushed a little about the lemongrass and peppermint which I’d used in drinks and confessed to being the one who kept tagging and commenting on Instagram posts. Thankfully this didn’t scare her off!
Gouri asked if I’d tried their spice drops in cooking…shamefully no, (I totally sound like an alcoholic!!) She offered me a product list and told me to choose the ones I liked and said I could take away some samples. With over 30 flavours to choose from (and a couple of gins already under my belt) I didn’t really know where to start. Cue Sam from Copperpot Bar and the mastermind of the Keralan Chai Punch, he was bound to have some good suggestions.
First, Sam talked me through the drink, after all, there was a serious Gin Fight going on. He described the thought process behind it, explaining how the Edinburgh Gin represented British heritage and the Chai spices represented Indian heritage. With the story of Holy Lama Naturals beginning when Mr. D V Deo migrated from near Goa to Kerala in South India, the name made complete sense. I love a good back story, creating something with purpose, meaning and origin, so I was won over before even tasting the punch! Sam is obviously of a similar mindset, saying,
“It’s nice to use historical ideas, it’s easy enough to make a drink that tastes nice, but it’s much more interesting to make a drink with set rules.”
Hang on…rules? There are rules to punch? This I had to hear and thankfully Sam had all the answers. The word punch means five, and was adopted from Sanskrit and was so called as the drink was originally made with five ingredients. These being alcohol, sugar, lemon, water, and tea or spices. It is these rules that Sam followed when creating his Keralan Chai Punch, using gin, honey, citrus, apple, green tea and chai spices. This all makes perfect sense and I’m telling you, the punch was INCREDIBLE! Maybe I should start following these booze rules? I confessed my lemongrass faux pas and Sam gave me a sneaky tip to avoid making the same mistake in future. He suggested that for drinks, to make a simple syrup or a base liquid using the spice drops, which you then add to the drink, this made so much sense. Another idea for the Summer Gin Party!
As Sam was seemingly the font of all knowledge, I asked for his suggestions on which Spice Drops samples I should take home…
“Are you using them for cooking or making drinks?”
There’s that questions again, my reply…
(I think I should perhaps try them in cooking!)
For drinks, Sam made a great point, he said, choose the ones which are the hardest to get into liquid form. Black pepper for example, when making a Red Snapper cocktail, rather than putting the usual grind of pepper, add a spice drop, voilà, no peppercorns stuck in your teeth. Sam continued to list his top choices, while Gouri was craftily listening and putting me together a little bag of samples. He was particularly excited by the mace spice drops, saying he was still working on exactly how to use it. He also suggested trying the tikka masala spice drops in a Bloody Mary, or a Red Snapper, although he confessed that he hadn’t yet tried it. I think that might be one for me to have a go at seeing as I’m going to be busy doing nothing until September.
Laden with samples and a cup of punch it was time for me to let Sam and Gouri get back to serving everyone else, although if I’d had my way I would just have taken all the Keralan Chai Punch which was left. This drink is arguably one of the most delicious things I’ve ever tasted. Sweet, but not too sweet, a hint of spice, which wasn’t overbearing, completely refreshing and desperately more-ish. Sadly Hubby was inclined to agree, so I couldn’t steal his cup too.
For a full rundown of my day out at The Ginpourium please click here