We sipped on two new spirits, one made from Japanese plums, and the other from Muscat wines
Seefah’s Sunil Muthupandi makes a smoky plum martini. Pic/Shadab Khan
We love history, especially when it traces food and drink. METAXA 12 Stars by Rémy Cointreau has its terroir in Samos, a Greek island which lies in the Aegean Sea. In 1888, a merchant named Spyros Metaxa created a spirit using sweet Muscat wines aged under the Greek sun along with wine distillates, which he aged separately in oak casks. To this, he added Mediterranean botanicals.
Smoky plum is densely sweet like a port wine, with a smoky finish
The first scent of this spirit is of roses. It unfurls into a fragrant taste, immediately accompanied by a sweet muscatel punch, and a strong botanical and brandy finish. It’s a spirit, it’s a liqueur, it’s both and none, we are told. When we try it neat, we crave a cube of ice and could nurse it all evening.
Our first taste of the spirit is in a cocktail called lemon fall which has Cointreau, lemon juice, orange oleo and Prosecco. It’s light and easy, but where we best get the experience is in Saratoga springs, in which Metaxa 12 Stars is infused with apricot, and paired with honey, vermouth and bitters. Almost like a negroni. A milk-washed version is offered with chamomile, vermouth, spice and lemon juice, which makes it more palatable. What we’d like to try is a pairing with tonic water, or even spiking our sangria.
The Seefah Martini has citrusy flavours of Yuzu and is a sessional cocktail
Far from the Greek islands, Japan has produced a wine liquor called Umeshu, made from a variety of plums called ume. This happens to be one of the oldest spirits of the country after sochu and sake. It’s made by macerating ume and steeping it with sugar and liquor. At Seefah Ketchaiyo’s namesake restaurant on Hill Road, the menu has three Umeshu cocktails. Mixologist Sunil Muthupandi makes us a Seefah Martini. Yuzu, vermouth and bitters cloak the fruity sweetness similar to port wine. The smoky plum, on the other hand, is a non-apologetic sweet character, which is potent and dense.
“The flavour profile includes sweet and sour notes. It is a lighter drink with mostly around 10 to 15 per cent abv. The best way to enjoy Umeshu is neat with a few cubes of ice or with soda or tonic.”
Rojita Tiwari, wine and spirits specialist
>> METAXA 12
“It has a rich honey and raisins note with dark and complex sweet flavours. Dark chocolate, sweet spices, caramel and fresh citrus elements work well with the spirit.”
Karl Fernandes, Bartender at Countertop