There’s a spot on a hill in Altinho, Goa, a stone’s throw from the Archbishop’s palace. Here, in a tulsi-plant filled courtyard you’ll find Desmond Nazareth skinning a cucumber, while agave spirit, lime and orange liqueur stand by patiently. You can try and talk to him – this wild haired Goan-Mangalorean - while he’s making a margarita pitcher, but we think you should wait until afterwards. Meanwhile, take a quick peek at his bar kit and you’ll see an orange capped frosted booze bottle with a bright red ‘DesmondJi’ scrawled across it.
This is not a case of narcissistic bath robe-like monogramming, but a bottle of orange liqueur made using Nagpur oranges and launched by Desmond just last week. It’s available at premium wine shops across Goa and Daman, waiting to travel into Mumbai, Delhi and Pune sooner than you think. Let’s hope the bottle neck clears quickly.
Oranges are Not the Only Fruit
Like many business ideas, DesmondJi was born out of a personal need. A need to make a batch of yum margaritas for friends “like I did in Philadelphia”, gulp them down and wake up without a hangover. “But more importantly, to make available Indian margarita ingredients and liqueurs that are high quality and affordable,” says the IIT Madras graduate, who also studied filmmaking and previously created Y2K software solutions in the US.
This, combined with his thirst for a new project after moving back to India, led to a series of events – setting up a micro distillery in Andhra Pradesh, a bottling facility in Goa and forging retail tie-ups with over hundred high-end liquor stores - between 2006 and now. The end result: DesmondJi’s pre-made bottled margarita blends (all you have to do is add lime), India’s first agave spirits made from blue-green agave that grows on the Deccan Plateau (a closely related plant is used to make tequila and mezcal) and the newly launched blue curaçao and orange liqueur. In case you were wondering, all DemondJi’s products are pretty potent, with a 37.1 % alcohol by volume.
The next time you’re in Goa, you should pick up a couple of the ready alcoholic margarita blend bottles. Cocktail snobs may cringe, but for lazy hosts, these are super handy to have around at a party, or while watching the sun go down at the beach (we hear that a bar at Anjuna’s Saturday night market uses DesmondJi in their cocktails).
For Goa travellers with an empty glass and blank agenda, we get Desmond to first, fix you a drink, and then tell you where to sip it in the sunshine state.
Drink: DJ Summertime Margarita
Ingredients (for one 150ml drink):
50 ml DesmondJi Margarita Blend;
75 ml fresh cucumber juice (liquidate the cucumber flesh after removing the skin and mature seeds, strain)
A few drops of lime juice
3-6 cubes of ice.
Put the ice in the shaker. Pour in the DesmondJi Margarita blend, cucumber juice, lime juice. Shake vigorously for a few seconds. Strain into a cocktail/margarita glass rimmed with salt. Garnish with a roundel of cucumber.
Do: Desmond's Most Scenic Goa Spots
1. The church compound of Our Lady of the Mount, Old Goa, overlooking Divar island and Mandovi River.
2. The extreme west high-point of Cabo de Rama fort in South Goa, overlooking extraordinary views on every side.
3. The compound of Three Kings Church, Velsao, on a hill off the road that follows the coast, and offers vistas of the northernmost part of the Salcette (South Goa) beach and coconut tree plantations.
4. Patnem Beach, in South Goa (south of the river Sal.)
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