The perfect strawberry daiquiri at sunset or later

Roll up, roll up. This is a challenge and a half. They are all good, all three, almost neck and neck, but I have to make a decision and pick one out, probably by, er, necking a few more of them down.

Something a bit Alice about this challenge. Drink me. Drink me.

Every day, I see the man on the beach who sells trays of strawberries, walking from beach shack to beach shack, selling to the kitchen staff and to those in charge of the cocktails.  Occasionally, sun worshippers, often strawberry pink themselves, respond to the passing call of ‘strawberries, strawberries’ and buy a box to enjoy at their sunbed. Me, I wait.

I wait until sunset approaches. It wouldn’t be decent any earlier. As part of the preparation, a decision has to be taken from a sunbed, whether to stay and slink up to a table at that shack just ahead of the sunset, predicting the time when it will not be too late to get a table facing right out to sea and the sunset, or whether to go elsewhere, not knowing how many other people have decided to go there too. Tough holiday decisions, I know.

The classic sunset choice has to be Boom Shankar at Colomb Bay, a ten minute stroll along the beach from Patnem, not allowing for distractions en route. There is a bit of a stampede for the tables overlooking the bay as the sunset view is one of the better sunset views on this planet, even without a strawberry daiquiri to mark it. But timing is all and it’s a bit uncool to be the first there. But you don’t really want to be sitting further back as you just don’t get the full panorama. There’s a happy hour too – I think you get a 20 rupee saving per cocktail. Not much to write home about, but an approximately 15% discount does equate to one free in eight, far better than a Cafe Nero coffee loyalty card. Boom Shankar, the undisputed original purveyor of the strawberry daiquiri in the area. A frozen cocktail, served, overfilled, in an old fashioned glass – you have to make a quick start on it before the overfill starts to melt and soaks the tablecloth. It is difficult not to make a quick start though. Rich in crushed strawberry content, I used to think this was the best in the world, easily beating a Manhattan bar’s offering at almost ten times the cost. But it is a bit like a grown up slush puppy, a bit on the sugary side, fairly light on the white rum taste. The view is unsurpassable though, more so  if there are a couple of local kids having fun and messing about in a rowing boat on the bay when the sun sinks to its final levels.

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The second strawberry daiquiri in my top three is from Tantra, a Patnem institution with welcoming staff and, in the style of Cheers, a bar where everyone knows your name. I am not sure how they know my name, but they do. Definitely like being in your local, even if the view and setting is a million miles away from any local hostelry in this city. Served in a large tulip shaped stemmed glass, packed with strawberry purée and any strawberry lumps which have got stuck in the chopping blades of the blender, there is a good acidic kick from the squeezed limes too. An underlying taste of white rum finishes this one off nicely. You sometimes get a strawberry pushed onto the rim of the glass, not quite as often though later in the evening. I think they get so busy that they forget. Occasionally, depending upon the number of tulip shaped glasses already in use, it’s served in a highball glass. The combination of the sharp limes and the rich strawberry content make this one feel like a health drink, not at all sweet as far as cocktails go, and it is rude not to have a second. I don’t think I’ve ever had one of these as a sundowner though – it tends to be a gin and tonic or a beer as it would feel a bit too Del Boy to have a cocktail there that early! No photos of a strawberry daiquiri here though as it’s always a later evening drink, just a sunset view of the local lifeguard hard at work and a boat watching the sunset.

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For beauty and looks, head to April 20. A fine strawberry daiquiri, the most expensive of the trio, served in a classic cocktail glass, always with a large whole strawberry set into the rim of the glass. Elegance in a glass.  This is one to contemplate before sipping. No rustic lumps of strawberry left behind in the purée, a good balance of flavours and a high rum content too. Not overly sweet, but missing the contrast of the sharpness of the limes marks it down just a notch from Tantra’s offering. Again, it is difficult not to have a second. This one feels wholly appropriate at sunset, an upmarket restaurant feel rather than a beach shack, looking out across the beach, maybe an on the hoof football kick about taking place, a standoff of local dogs seeing who can bark the loudest or a show-off doing some beach yoga poses or a bit of juggling. And, occasionally, a sunset to die for, not perhaps quite as breath taking scenery as that from Boom Shankar.

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So, there are winners all round. Boom Shankar for the setting, Tantra for the taste, and April 20 for the presentation and style. And they do all taste fabulous in their different ways.

I may think about tasting some others next visit, purely in the interests of my research.

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Patnem Beach Road, Goa, a place where little happens

Patnem Beach Road is somewhere where nothing really happens, the narrow road leading between the main road, itself a small road, and the steps down to the beach. A place for tuk tuks to wait for people heading off to another beach or into nearby Chaudhi for an ATM or a pharmacy.  But, the more you walk up and down this little road, the more you notice and the more that does actually seem to happen in a very small understated way. 


Early morning, it’s more or less all closed, just an optimistic tuk tuk driver or two hoping that you want a tuk tuk in the opposite direction to which you are walking. Sleeping dogs. There are always sleeping dogs. The little shops which have evolved along much of the road are still closed, covered up in heavy duty plastic sheeting, often bright blue, the occasional flower garland or lime and chilli combo hanging from a rusty nail, vibrant in the early morning sunshine and against the blue plasticised background. The shopkeepers will remove the plastic later, also then beginning their almost constant task of sprinkling water on the road in front of their establishments to reduce the sand and dust. One or two of the posher shops have hardboard doors instead of plastic sheeting or even some windows.

Sometimes, the laundry/tailor opens fairly early and the tailor always has time to look up from his sewing machine outside and say good morning to any passers by. His wife, the launderer, decorates the threshold each morning with a ringoli, first of all chalking an outline of the pattern for that day, then neatly dropping differently coloured sands into the correct area to form a beautifully complex patterned graphic on the ground, all from sand and swept away at the end of each day. She is such an artist, so modest about her creations too. I always intend to make a photo collage from ringolis across the years when  I get home, but just never seem to get around to it. 

And this year, for the first time, a fruit shop too. Two actually. One is more of a stall than a shop, but its entrepreneurial owner offers a sideline in laundry.  The shop further along the road makes its entrepreneurial statement with a juice extractor to supply ready whizzed concoctions to those who have become too beach lazy to peel their own fruit or to eat it whole. 

On New Year’s Day morning, I noticed one of the traders burning a lamp just opposite his shop, part of a religious ritual and not one that I had come across previously. He was quite happy for it to be photographed. 

And the bigger tailoring shop closer to the beach steps has a quite scary display collection of dummies dressed in examples of the available tailoring. Some of the clothing would not look out of place as stage costumes in a retro 1970s pop opera, pure Jesus Christ Superstar or Hair! Still, there must be a market.

And some evil road potholes, a fall into one of which caused me to fracture my ankle. Boo hoo. 

But, otherwise, nothing really happens here, nothing much at all.