Bar Tesouro’s Cult Cocktail ‘Midnight Brekkie’ Is A Winner
Breakfast, they say, is the most important meal of the day. We like it more if it’s served in a cocktail glass
Would you drink something that had peanut butter-washed gin, strawberry puree, watermelon juice, vermouth, and malic acid in its ingredient list? Well, what if we told you it was a cocktail that skyrocketed to the top of the charts across India since it became a part of Bar Tesouro’s first cocktail menu in December 2020? Launched during the pandemic, the South Goa establishment was recently declared the best bar in India, and it introduced the cocktail called ‘Midnight Brekkie.’
The growing popularity of Midnight Brekkie only cements that reputation. Back in the ’60s, CCR sang Midnight Special, and the opening lyrics rang true for Pankaj Balachandran, one of the founders of Bar Tesouro, during the first lockdown: “Well, you wake up in the mornin’ You hear the work bell ring And they march you to the table You see the same old thing.”
For Balachandran, the “same old thing” happened to be gin, the one spirit he was well stocked with. The Midnight Brekkie decided to “shine a light on him” late one night as he was having his favourite cheat snack—a sandwich with peanut butter on one side, and strawberry jam on the other. Drink trials for the menu were on, when an epiphany struck — “Why not turn this midnight craving into a drink?” Watermelon came in later, but was a logical fit considering it was his favourite breakfast drink. Bartenders know, it’s not as easy as it sounds though, to turn an idea into a drink. So several renditions later, as April turned into August, this lockdown baby finally could be put on the Tesouro’s menu. The bar opened its doors in December 2021, a full nine months from the conception of the cocktail.
“It’s particularly intriguing,” says Balakrishnan, “because it doesn’t look like what it tastes like. It’s wonderful to see people’s expressions when they have it for the first time,” he says. The name draws you in first, because who doesn’t want a midnight snack? Then it’s the description that intrigues you, and the questions come in, with “How do you get peanut butter into a gin?” being one.
Once you’ve tried it, you are sure to tell people about it, and that’s how the virtuous cycle builds. And to no small account. “We sell an average of 40-50 a night, that’s close to 10,000 cocktails in a year.” A fact that Donovan Vaz, the founder of Tesouro, corroborated when I met him recently, and yes, it was over a Brekkie. The cocktail’s cult status and fan following is so widespread that visitors in Goa pre-order the drink. Once they have their fill at the bar, they take four to five bottles with them back home. “Our next most popular cocktail is the Salcette Salsa, but that does only about 50 percent of these volumes,” says Pankaj.
Puru, a drinks enthusiast, shares his excitement: “The day I first had the Brekkie, it felt smooth, refreshing, especially with a slice of watermelon. Exactly what my palate needs. Nothing in that drink is overpowering; it just felt the right drink to have in the Goa heat. After trying many cocktails, this is one that will always be on my list on an easy drinking day. Can enjoy it any time of the day.”
Midnight Brekkie’s fame has spread world-over. Elephant Room and Sago House in Singapore have done Midnight Brekkie promotions, with due credit to Tesouro. “I wanted it to be a modern classic,” says Pankaj, “and maybe in December 2022, when Tesouro turns two, is when we might retire the drink, and share the recipe with bars around the world.”
It deserves a fitting send off, and now that you’re forewarned, make sure you get to Tesouro, and get your Brekkie.