World’s first spirit to enhance Indian cuisine

Self-confessed Indian foodie, Sarah Fretwell, got in touch to say thank you. Thank you for "...finally giving me a guilt-free feeling the morning after the curry night before". In the first of our blogs, she shares her Sollasa story...

Let’s be clear, it’s a ridiculous notion to suggest there is a singular uncompromising beverage that goes tête-a-tête with the nuances and intensity of Indian cuisine, catering to the diversity of traditional regional styles and refined contemporary twists. But this also happens to be the exact sweeping statement I now find myself making.

It’s certainly true we are not spoiled by choice. I, like many others, always return to a crisp Cobra as my “authentic” beverage of choice. It’s a refreshing, charmingly branded easy to drink lager, the final defence for my screaming pores when the naga chilli hits. However, it goes without saying the culprit for my increasing waistline has never been my diet-friendly lamb madras or naan, but the long avoided reality of the golden nectar I swig to wash it all down (although it’s possible the not-so occasional cheeky Samosas play their part too). 

I love to eat out, smelling my way through the full menu, reaching for thirst quenching long drinks over short, sharp cocktails and heady wines. And although I am partial to a few G&T’s and can’t ignore the rising demand for infused herbal gins, either the juniper is too overpowering or my head starts spinning before I’ve made it through the complimentary poppadoms

A solution was needed for my ongoing dilemma and weekly post-curry guilt, and little did I know that one was just around the corner. One morning, just like countless Sunday mornings, I was heaped on the sofa channel surfing in a bloated exhibition of regret. My ears pricked up at the mention of “..It goes beautifully with Indian cooking”, and for the first time in my life I found myself locking eyes with Alan Titchmarsh, watching ITV's Love Your Weekend as each guest proceeded to gush at the supposed miraculous properties of this “wonderful, fresh” new drink.

A multitude of options…

Intrigued at the thought of an exciting new drink upgrade, I found my way to the brand’s new-born Instagram account: here were images of delicious curries paired with an elegant looking drink in all its variations; tonic, cucumber and mint, egg white and lemon, ginger beer, the variations kept on coming. 

Here’s what you need to know. Sollasa, a new spirit on the market, the world’s first aperitif specifically designed for Indian cuisine. The brand claims its drink is a better partner for spicy dishes than beer or wine and a guilt-free alternative to gin, with less than 100 calories and just 20% ABV. Count me in.

Always at the mercy of a good pitch, my curiosity got the better of me. One evening after work I found myself in a very cosy set up, takeaway at the ready (quick humble brag, my local spot just so happens to be rated London’s #1 Indian restaurant on TripAdvisor). Lamb madras and a bottle of my newly discovered Sollasa in hand, 50ml over ice mixed with 150ml light Indian tonic and garnished with a lime wedge. A bite, a sip, and I’m struck with the lightness of this drink, a noticeable herbal twang – presumably from the fennel and coriander, with a slight Indian kick from the cardamon and carom seeds. There’s a touch of sweetness from the lychee and orange which really cuts through the tomato in the curry’s sauce. My taste buds also pick up a hint of mint and basil, a cooling touch for the fellow spice fiends out there.

According to the brand’s co-founder Vishal Patel, the team “worked with leading chefs, mixologists and food scientists to develop the perfect partner” for Indian cuisine. True, there’s a definite intricacy to the Indian spices and just the right level of sweetness to balance the herbs. I notice after every sip that the curry’s flavour is just as it always was, not mellowed out, not obscured by the drink, possibly even sharper. 

There’s nothing better…

If you’re anything like my brother – not remotely bothered by the calories or the gassy bumps in the night, who after some playful banter once poured beer in his cereal as a testament of love for his favourite brew, then perhaps Sollasa might not be the beverage for you. I also wonder how it marries with other drier curries and seafood, but I guess I’ll have to temporarily part ways with my beloved madras to find out. Personally though, I can’t sing its praises enough. It’s a game-changing addition to my Friday night tradition and leaves me feeling guilt-free in the morning. 

Also Vishal, If you stumble across this article, I want you to know that my second favourite cuisine is Mexican, so please work your magic on a fiery lower alcohol Tequila alternative that won’t leave me regretting my excessive night of nachos and tacos.