It took me a while to befriend Goa. Coming from fast-paced cities, Goa often seems reluctant to shake out of its slumber. When you don’t seem to fit in, food and drink comfort and help ease you in. Goa, now on my fifth visit, finally did it for me. Its burgeoning culinary and dynamic drinking scene is kindling a new emotion. Craft beers, gins, and rums, exclusive single malts, heritage tagged Feni, nouveau cocktails and modern diners are driving it to become a cosmopolitan second base. All the while, locals tightly hold on to their colourful liqueurs, candied Port wines, hole-in-the- wall bars and taverns, centuries-old, family-run bakeries, and the life of community and susegad.
The wave that started with Greater Than has indeed gotten greater than we expected. Goa is already home to over 20 gins, rums, and whiskies alone, and many more to come. But nothing’s made its way in to the heart and collection of Indian denizens the way gins have: Pumori, Samsara, Hapusa, Tickle, Seqer, Matinee, GinGin, Stranger & Sons have kept bars buzzing with smashing mixes, endless GinTos, helping keep spirits high even when we were locked in. They’ve all flirted with Indian palates and imagination with a curious mix of botanicals, offered quirky labels that draw from our stories and histories, to quickly become the canvas to draw on.