Kochi Marriott’s bar 10 Degree North houses a fine collection of premium spirits and small plates
Even with a multitude of upscale watering holes, Kochi might still not be used to the ‘Gentleman’s Bar’ concept that 10 Degree North is based on. You know that you’re in for a serious-yet-fun affair rather than a loud weekend bash as you enter the rather small 20-cover space.
The warm lighting in the three-month-old outlet casts a plush aura on the elegant furnishings (well-thought-out with tables for two as well as long couches to accommodate big groups) and a bar counter at the far end. Now for what’s shining on the shelves at the bar.
“As a concept, we’ll house a good collection of single malts and blended Scotch whiskies along with other liquors. We also have a few signature cocktails inspired by the spice-rich history of Kerala,” informs Akshay Kumar, the F&B sales manager who is also interestingly a Level Two awardee from The Wine & Spirit Education Trust.
Chef Saji P Alex also enthusiastically joins our conversation to help pair some spirits with the small plates menu at 10 Degree North which sports Malayali flavours like beef coconut fry alongside a few names from various cuisines including tortilla chips and Burmese khow suey.
Food pairing with beverages has to start with wines. “Strong spirits tend to numb your palate. So, wines are a good choice to pair with Kerala’s cuisine,” informs Saji, as he brings a Kerala-style prawn preparation, chemeen varuthath. The dish has sour notes followed by a lasting spiciness and we pair it with an Indian-origin white wine which has pleasant green fruity flavours.
If you’re more of a red wine person, the chef’s beef mulagu peralan—slow-cooked veal with shallots and spices including red chilli and pepper—is a good combination to try.
The corn crusted chicken pops they serve next would be delectable with some beer, but I didn’t want to skip a cocktail temptation. The quirkily named Vasco da Gama 1498 has a domestic brandy (symbolic of a sailors’ drink) with a balanced blend of spices such as star anise, cinnamon and peppers.
Akshay’s experience with spirits is evident in the balance found in every cocktail we try. The gooseberry martini, for instance, takes to account the fact that gin works with mild flavours.
“Another unique experience that we offer is an experimental dining session developed by a Scotch brand exclusively for the Indian palate. This aims to elevate the whisky tasting beyond the ‘on the rocks’ concept with a few drops of curated spice mixes blended with it,” informs Akshay.
True to his word, the 12-year aged Scotch transforms into something distinct when they are given a twist as Bittersweet Symphony (contains hints of jasmine, clove and quinine) and Sweet Obsession (includes coriander, clove and other spices). As we wind up, I’m certain that 10 Degree North is the place where I’d bring that friend who takes what their glass holds seriously.
Open from 11 am to 11 pm.