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Delhi Wine Club
Croft Pink Port: Selecting The Pink Cadillac

Posted: Monday, 01 October 2012 12:02

Croft Pink Port: Selecting The Pink Cadillac

September 29 : The 250 guests attending the 200th dinner of the Delhi Wine Club organised at Hyatt Regency last Friday were the first to taste the Pink Cadillac, a cocktail made from Croft Pink Port and selected through a first competition of its kind by the Indian Wine Academy for the bartenders of the hotel, who showcased creative cocktails without ever having tasted or seen the new avatar of Port wine, writes Subhash Arora who conceptualized the competition.

Click For The Large ViewThe genesis of the Croft Pink Port Cocktail is in the song of the eighties - Pink Cadillac. It was a song sung originally by Bruce Springsteen in 1984 (B side of his album, Dancing in the Dark) but popularized later as the R&B interpretation in 1988 by Natalie Cole - my favourite version and the only one I remember.

Last year when I went to Porto, the city of Port to receive a Medal of Merit from the Paris based OIV for my 'contribution to the world wine industry’, I took the opportunity to visit several Port companies including the Fladgate Partnership - one of the oldest, biggest and most well-known companies, producing Taylor, Fonseca  and Croft Ports. During lunch, my hostess took me to the beautiful company restaurant facing the Douro River below and with a captivating view of Porto across the river. One of the Ports we tasted was a chilled Pink Port from Croft.

The credit of introducing Pink Port goes to Fladgate Partnership. They have been following up with IVDP, the Port and Douro Wines Institute, to grant recognition to Pink Port which would be essentially for the younger people and women, opening a new market for Port. As I was informed, the classification was finally granted in 2007 and the first release was in 2008. I liked it at the tasting but was not overly enamoured by it - though in the company of a lady, with delicious food of the restaurant and the scintillating view outside, I must have consumed 2-3 glasses. Not being a regular Port drinker, I forgot about the Croft Pink though the afternoon was recorded in my brain as a very enjoyable affair.

This year in May, I had been invited to judge at the Concours Mondial du Bruxelles in Guimarāes, close to Porto, followed by another trip earlier this month to visit Amorim cork factories. Afternoons and evenings during the judging meant visits to Port producers and dinners where I was deeply impressed by the refreshing cocktails, most of which used Pink Port as the main ingredient. When I met Lorenzo Bakewell Stone, the then Brand ambassador for the Croft Pink Port, I suggested to him that I could have the Delhi Wine Club serve a refreshing, fruity cocktail made from Croft Pink Port and chose the best through a competition conducted by the Indian Wine academy.

My only request was that I be allowed to name the cocktail 'Pink Cadillac'. Lorenzo, who had visited Mumbai and Delhi during my absence from the country, was duly impressed by the response to the Pink Port and had appointed Dhall Foods as the importer. He agreed instantly, starting the chase by Arjun Dhall to get the label registered and import the Port in time for the competition to be held on September 20 at the China Kitchen Bar at Hotel Hyatt.

Click For The Large ViewThe competition was thrown open to the bartenders of Hyatt Regency Delhi only for the maiden competition due to logistics issue. The participants were given a bottle of Croft Pink Port in advance to practice making their cocktails. Hyatt as the hospitality partner of Delhi Wine Club for the historic dinner, was gracious enough to provide the other ingredients and let the participants experiment with the Port and other ingredients.

Sourish Bhattacharyya (Chairman), Subhash Arora (Indian Wine Academy), Cecilia Oldne (Sommelier/Sula),  Joachim Lafaure (French Sommelier) and Somnath Dey (Beverage Manager at Hyatt) were the five judges selected by the Academy. Not all had the experience of judging a cocktail competition but wine was their basic strength. They tasted and tested the cocktails crafted by the 5 finalists, judging them on factors like appearance, imaginative use of ingredients, taste and quality, grooming of the bartender, cleanliness of the counter and articulation of the bartender to describe the cocktail in English/Hindi. Marks were given out of 100, without any discussion.

The best and the second best entry was to be awarded a certificate with a prize.  The CK bar was buzzing with several of their colleagues collected to cheer them on and taste the final beverage after the judges had let them touch their lips. The competitors had done their homework well and rehearsed their act rather well. They won the judges’ hearts by naming their cocktails individually. Purple Haze, Port Cobber, Pink Croft Lady, Rising with a Ruby and Eloquent Ruby were the names chosen by the participants. Given the liberty to choose their own ingredients, they used various spices, ginger, coriander, elderflower, even some pre-made concoctions to spice up the drinks. In fact, surprisingly, the emphasis seemed to be more on making the cocktail spicy rather than fruity, which cost some of the competitors the award.

The best cocktail was from Gopal Singh - based on fresh pomegranates and other juices that made the drink very fruity but not sweet. The appearance was very attractive, pink with a shade of purple due to the pomegranate juice. Though the garnishing with the fruit did not add much to make it look more attractive, the refreshing flavours made it the darling of the jury who unanimously voted it as the best cocktail.

Click For The Large ViewHence was borne The Pink Cadillac for the Indian palate, served on September 21 along with Drappier champagne as an aperitif before the sit-down dinner for the 250 guests in attendance. Indian Wine Academy gave certificates of participation and appreciation to all the participants. Gopal Singh and Sahil Chauhan - the runner up - were given the award by Mr Ranjan Mathai, the Foreign Secretary.

So next time you think of 'Pink Cadillac', let it conjure up the image of a refreshing, fruity drink that even novices would love in the hot weather, and not just the sexual images and connotations of the song of the eighties.

Subhash Arora

Croft Port is being imported by Dhall Foods who may be contacted directly- editor

Pink Cadillac Recipe





Anurag Mehrotra Says:

I missed tasting this cocktail!

Posted @ October 04, 2012 11:42


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