Wow. Thums Up. It’s kind of a Bombay institution, isn’t it? It’s one of those glorious things that never fails to sweep us back in time and conjure up treasured childhood memories of the homeland. Distinctive, tangy, hyper-sweet, the taste reminds us of greedily quenching our thirst after a long afternoon’s cricket practice. Meandering home from school, rationing a prized bottle between best friends. Balmy evening strolls on Chowpatty Beach, rapidly-warming bottle in one hand, Pau Bhaji in the other. It’s not Thunder you can taste, it’s pure nostalgia.
So, there was never really any question that we have Thums Up at Dishoom. It’s part of our Bombay DNA. And we’ve been faithfully serving Thums Up to delighted Desis – and getting our non-Desi friends hooked on it – ever since we opened our doors.
It would be fair to say that another part of our DNA is being curious, or even a bit barmy; asking odd questions that nobody has ever thought to ask before, like “What would happen if an old Bombay Cafe took a trip down to Chowpatty Beach circa 1965 while on a mild acid trip?“, or “I wonder whether Masala Chai tastes good with Baileys?” (answer: of course it does!). And one day recently our Daru-wallah Carl pondered the question, “How can we make a really great vintage cocktail using….Thums Up?”
Sounds more than a bit silly, right? But we just knew that if we could make it work, it would be like that positively rousing moment in Lagaan where Bhuvan hits the winning six, and stops his village paying tax forever. So our daru-walla Carl (who is really very talented – think of him as Aamir Khan in this particular analogy) set to work. We dabbled, we dipped and we tasted and tested, and the answer to that particularly bonkers conundrum is our new Thums Up Flip.
Now Flips are about as classic as they come. The recipe was first written down by Jerry Thomas in 1862, and today the drink is redolent of glamorous 1920s cocktail parties; all smoking jackets, crystal glasses and elegant jewellery. And Flips are not an easy drink to perfect – coming from an era that sanctified purity and perfection in its cocktail-making. But done right, they’re gobsmackingly good.
For our Flip, we took inspiration from Thums Up (or more accurately, a home-made syrup made by carefully reducing the ‘raw’ liquid to intensify its Thums-uppiness!) and combined it with one of our ‘national’ spirits – Johnnie Walker Black Label Whisky. We then added a touch of double cream, an egg and a dash of cinnamon bitters.
It may not sound the likeliest of combinations, but trust us – it’s damn good. The individually heavy flavours work together to create a drink that’s light, delicate and subtly balanced – not to mention absolutely delicious.
We’ll be serving this particular blend of awesomeness from Monday 21st May, when our revamped menu gets launched (more on this to follow…). Keep an eye out for passworded freebies and tasters on Facebook…
One thing we haven’t decided yet is the name – so Dishoom-wallas, we’d like your help! Is it a good old Thums Up Flip, or the racier-sounding Black ‘n’ Thunder [i.e. Johnnie Walker Black Label and the Thums Up slogan ‘Taste the Thunder’]? Or do you have a better suggestion? Let us know what you think by posting below!
PS. If whisky isn’t your thing – fear not – we’re also adding a very nostalgic Thums Up Float with vanilla ice cream to the menu next week…
IT HAS BEEN an annual December habit of mine, these past ten years since we embarked upon this restaurant business, to sit alone, with myself, and reflect on the year gone by. I am grateful to be here in the Permit Room in our restaurant in Shoreditch scribbling and writing, the oddly enjoyable taste of splintering wood from my chewed up pencil smoothed by my decently strong drink.
These are the last few days, the dregs of 2019. It’s my habit to sit here in the Permit Room at this time. I am the be-stubbled and dishevelled regular, cherishing his precious drink at the end of the bar. Weary, I sit here pondering the year, attempting to figure out what it was trying to teach me. What wisdom can I glean from it?
I love to truly understand and appreciate the origins of a dish, and learn how communities have adapted a recipe over time to make that dish unique to them.
We have arrived at a very sad, but inevitable and clear choice. As of now, all Dishooms are now closed to diners.