Monday, October 19, 2015

McDonald's India to double outlets with Rs 750 crore investment

As per a PTI news report, McDonald's India is stepping up its operations in western and southern markets of the country by doubling its outlets with an investment of Rs 750 crore in the next five years. "We currently have 213 restaurants and are looking to add up to another 250 restaurants by 2020, which would entail an investment of Rs 750 crore," said Amit Jatia, Vice Chairman, Westlife Enterprise, a master franchisee for McDonald's. It will continue to focus on its top six metros in the West and South, Jatia said, which brings over 65 per cent of the business.

The company's overarching strategy now is to offer ‘healthier beverages’ to customers here. "We are now betting big on our coffee. We have opened McCafe's within our outlets serving premium locally sourced Arabica coffee at affordable prices," he said. "We offer a range of smoothies, besides coffees and this encourages customers to opt for non-carbonated drinks," he added. Started last year in the country, there are about 45 McCafes, which in the next two years is expected to go up to 140, he indicated. The company will spend invest Rs 20 lakhs to Rs 30 lakhs per outlet, to set up McCafes

Paytm eyes Rs 500 crore revenue from hotel booking over next 6 months

As per a PTI news report, digital payments company, Paytm has expanded its platform to allow customers to make hotel bookings and expects revenue of Rs 500 crore from the service over the next six months.The Alibaba-backed company has partnered with players such as Goibibo, Ezeego1 and TSI-Yatra for the new service. 

"Travel has emerged as a very important category for us as the penetration of online booking is still very low in this vertical. The opportunity for the hotels category is immense, especially because the transaction penetration is still low in Tier II and III cities as far as travel concerned," Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Founder and CEO, Paytm. In the first phase, Paytm will offer an inventory of about 20,000 hotels to users and the number is expected to go up to 35,000 in a short time after launch. 

"In the first phase we have partnered online travel portals like Goibibo, Ezeego1, TSI Yatra, Via for domestic hotel booking. In phase 2, the plan is to offer international hotels by tying up with leading platforms like Expedia and," he said. 

With the launch of this segment, Paytm will drive usage from these areas, causing a huge disruption in the travel space, he added. "We expect this segment to contribute Rs 500 crore to the revenue over the next six months," he said. Currently, the eCommerce platform also allows users to book bus tickets. (Source: PTI)

Paytm announces India's biggest Online Food Festival

Paytm, India’s leading mobile commerce platform, announced biggest ever Online Food Festival from October 9 to 11, 2015.The festival will offer widest selection of cuisines, exciting offers to customers who order from over 20,000 restaurants and chefs spread over 100+ cities in India through multiple online and offline food partners of Paytm's mobile wallet. Paytm expects to triple the traction for its food category during the festival period.

 Speaking on the festival, KiranVasireddy, Senior Vice President – Business, Paytm said, “We are thrilled to present our first Online Food Festival this October. By offering widest variety of cuisine along with exceptional deals and discounts to our user base, our larger objective is to generate greater awareness and traction for food ordering in India. We wish to make transactions in this space cashless and help consumers discover how convenient, efficient, engaging and rewarding it is to order grub with a few clicks.” 

Paytm has tied up with leading Indian online food ordering platforms such as Foodpanda, Dominos, Zomato, Swiggy, Faasos, Tiny Owl and Holachef along with Offline QSR chains such as Pizza Hut, Costa Coffee and Vaango to make this festival truly attractive for consumers.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

10 reasons beer is not bad for you

Here are 10 reasons why beer is not really bad for you, if had in moderation. Please note, this is not an encouragement to imbibe, especially if you are a teetotaler or have a medical condition

1. Beer drinkers live longer
Moderate drinking is good for you, and beer is good for moderate drinking. Everyone knows that if you drink too much, it's not good for you. Let's not pull punches: If you're a drunk, you run into things, you drive into things, you get esophageal cancer, you get cirrhosis and other nasty conditions. But more and more medical research indicates that if you don't drink at all, that's not good for you either. According to numerous independent studies, moderate drinkers live longer and better than drunks or teetotalers. Beer is perfect for moderate drinking because of its lower alcohol content and larger volume compared with wine or spirits. And as that old radical Thomas Jefferson said, "Beer, if drank with moderation, softens the temper, cheers the spirit, and promotes health." And he didn't need a scientific study to tell him that.

2. Beer is all-natural
Some know-it-alls will tell you that beer is loaded with additives and preservatives. The truth is that beer is as all-natural as orange juice or milk (maybe even more so - some of those milk & OJ labels will surprise you). Beer doesn't need preservatives because it has alcohol and hops, both of which are natural preservatives. Beer is only "processed" in the sense that bread is: It is cooked and fermented, then filtered and packaged. The same can be said for Heineken.

3. Beer is low in calories, low in carbohydrates and has no fat or cholesterol
For a completely natural beverage, beer offers serious low-calorie options. Twelve ounces of Guinness has the same number of calories as 12 ounces of skim milk: about 125. That's less than orange juice (150 calories), which is about the same as your standard, "full-calorie" beer. If beer were your only source of nutrition, you'd have to drink one every waking hour just to reach your recommended daily allowance of calories (2,000 to 2,500). And nobody's recommending you drink that many. The only natural drinks with fewer calories than beer are plain tea, black coffee and water. Surely, beer is loaded with those fattening carbohydrates, right? Wrong again. The average beer has about 12 grams of carbs per 12-ounce serving. The U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance is 300 grams of carbohydrates in a standard 2,000-calorie diet. In other words, you would need to drink an entire 24-pack case of beer - and then reach into a second case - simply to reach the government's recommended daily allotment of carbohydrates. You're better off munching an apple or drinking some soda pop if you want to carbo-load. Each has about 35 to 40 grams of carbs - three times the number found in a beer. Also, beer has no fat or cholesterol.

4. Beer improves your cholesterol
Beer not only has no cholesterol, it can actually improve the cholesterol in your body. In fact, drinking beer regularly and moderately will tilt your HDL/LDL cholesterol ratios the right way. You've got two kinds of cholesterol in your system: HDL, the "good" cholesterol that armor-plates your veins and keeps things flowing, and LDL, the "bad" cholesterol that builds up in your veins like sludge in your bathtub drain. Beer power-flushes the system and keeps the HDL levels up. According to some studies, as little as one beer a day can boost your HDL by up to 4 per cent.

5. Beer helps you chill
The social aspects of moderate drinking are solidly beneficial to your health. In other words, to get out every now and then and relax with your buddies over a couple of beers.

6. Beer has plenty o' B vitamins
Beer, especially unfiltered or lightly filtered beer, turns out to be quite nutritious, despite the years of suppression of those facts by various anti-alcohol groups. Beer has high levels of B vitamins, particularly folic acid, which is believed to help prevent heart attacks. Beer also has soluble fiber, good for keeping you regular, which in turn reduces the likelihood that your system will absorb unhealthy junk like fat. Beer also boasts significant levels of magnesium and potassium, in case you were planning on metal-plating your gut.

7. Beer is safer than water
If you're someplace where you are advised not to drink the water, the local beer is always a safer bet. It's even safer than the local bottled water. Beer is boiled in the brewing process and is kept clean afterwards right through the bottle being capped and sealed, because if it isn't, it goes bad in obvious ways that make it impossible to sell. Even if it does go bad, though, there are no life-threatening bacteria bacteria (pathogens) that can live in beer. So drink up - even bad beer is safer than water.

8. Beer prevents heart attacks
If you want to get a bit more cutting-edge than vitamins, beer has other goodies for you. You've heard of the French Paradox, how the French eat their beautiful high-fat diet and drink their beautiful high-booze diet and smoke their nasty goat-hair cigarettes, but have rates of heart disease that are about one-third that of the rest of the world? It's been credited to red wine and the antioxidants it contains. Hey, guess what else has lots of antioxidants, as many as red wine? Dark beer! According to the American Heart Association, "there is no clear evidence that wine is more beneficial than other forms of alcoholic drink." One study profiled in the British Medical Journal in 1999 said that the moderate consumption of three drinks a day could reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by 24.7 per cent.

9. Beer fights cancer
The most amazing beer and health connection is something called xanthohumol, a flavonoid found only in hops. Xanthohumol is a potent antioxidant that inhibits cancer-causing enzymes, "much more potent than the major component in soy," according Dr. Cristobal Miranda of the Department of Environmental and Molecular Toxicology at Oregon State University. This xanthohumol stuff is so good for you that the Germans have actually brewed a beer with extra levels of it.

10. Beer does not give you a beer belly
A study done by researchers at the University College of London and the Institut Klinicke a Experimentalni Mediciny in Prague in 2003 showed no connection between the amount of beer people drank and the size of their overhang. "There is a common notion that beer drinkers are, on average, more 'obese' than either non-drinkers or drinkers of wine or spirits," the researchers said. But they found that "the association between beer and obesity, if it exists, is probably weak." Most studies have found that people who drink beer regularly (and moderately) not only don't develop beer bellies - they weigh less than non-drinkers. Beer can boost your metabolism, keep your body from absorbing fat and otherwise make you a healthier, less disgusting slob. Just drink it in moderation, as part of an otherwise healthy diet.

So that's it. Drink beer. You'll live longer and be happier. You won't get fat. In fact, you may weigh less. You'll boost your metabolism, improve your health and reduce your risk of clogged arteries, heart attack and cancer. What more could you want?

The 14 best beers in India

Tired of wishlists featuring exotic brews available in some remote part of Belgium? We give you the ultimate list of quality beer you can buy in India.

Stella Artois

This six-century-old Belgian brew comes with a whole set of pouring rituals – and a chalice – but the light, full-bodied taste is worth it. Nobody does it quite like the Belgians.


The creamy Belgian wheat beer hits a home run with its hints of orange peel, coriander and spice.


Clean and crisp, this dry beer is manufactured with yeast, ingredients and technology that all live up to impossibly high Japanese standards – naturally.


With a kickback vibe from its home country, this Aussie lager is full-bodied, malty and eminently drinkable


The toasted maltiness and mild fruitiness of this pale gold lager make it a staple at boys’ nights

Leffe Blond

The light Belgian beer gets its sunny hue from pale malt. Perfect as an aperitif, it’s smooth and fruity, with an aftertaste of bitter oranges

Kingfisher Ultra

It’s never just about the product when it comes to Kingfisher – it’s a lifestyle choice. And this light, refreshing beverage is a choice we can get behind.


Crisp, clean and dry, this Italian lager, like Mama’s recipe for bolognaise sauce, is still brewed as it was back in 1963.


Beyond its fresh, light taste, the single best reason to drink Bud is to transport you back to those good old college days.

Schneider Weisse

Full-bodied, slightly fruity with a mild bitter aftertaste – the perfect way to wash down all that bratwurst.

Corona Extra

Even if she’s the only one drinking it, you're cooler isn’t complete without this Mexican export. Don’t forget the lime.

London Pride

Smooth, creamy, full-bodied with just the right amount of bitter, this British dark amber ale goes down easy.

San Miguel Pale Pilsen

The light golden brew, with a distinctive hoppy character, pairs well with Spanish food, despite its Filipino origins.


The Danish company’s flagship brew, the Pilsner is a pleasing mix of bitter and sweet – a combination Liverpool fans will understand well.

24 beers to try before you die

We’re not just talking about good beer; we are talking about great beer. Beer that makes people collect empty bottles and cans once they finish the contents inside and keep them in their cupboard to look at every once in a while in fond remembrance. (What? You don’t do that?)
I certainly did with Guinness, that beauty of a beer which even has its own pouring method. I remember some old English chappy telling me as I called for a Guinness at a pub in London “You like Guinness eh? That stuff will put hair on your chest if you don’t have any and will take it off if you do” If they only served Guinness or Kilkenny (made by the same company) on tap in India we would be a much less hairy lot.
Kings from Goa, not only because it’s great, but because anyone who has ever been to Goa has had a gazillion of them with the ability of having a gazillion more - and that’s just for breakfast. I love it because of the bottle shape, because I have never had one that does not have sand encrusted at the bottom of the bottle and because the owners of Kings don’t think much of mass production and sales and focus on quality.
Leffe is a personal favourite amongst beers available in India. Stella Artois from the same motherland - Belgium is fantastic as well. When speaking of Belgium beers one cannot forget the “Trappist’ beers which are brewed within a Trappist monastery under the supervision of the monks themselves. Trappist beers to look out for are OrvalAchelRochefortWestvleterenandWestmalle and of course Chimay. They make beer to maintain the monastery and whatever is extra- goes to charity. So it’s drinking for a good cause, I will have three, bartender!
The Germans know their Riesling and they know their beer. They produce my favourite beer, Augustiner which is made in Bavaria a state in Germany. It’s special because they do not advertise, make small quantities of absolute classic beer, are intent on keeping their tradition alive and host one of the tents at Oktoberfest. Bavaria is also responsible for beers like PaulanerSpatenHacker-Pschorr,Löwenbräu and Hofbräu.
Czech Republic is famous for producing beer and a Czech beer I highly recommend is Kozel. I suggest you do it right- jump on a plane to Prague, and find yourself a quaint little beer bar where the locals hang out. Other famous brands include Budweiser / Budvar(not to be confused with the American brand of the same name),Velke Popovice and Staropramen.
A lot of the best beers in the States are produced by small companies who focus on quality rather than quality. In the states, microbreweries are responsible for many fantastic beers. Two beers to definitely try are Anchor Stream from San Francisco orFat Tire of the New Belgium Brewing Company.
All this talk of beer has made me thirsty for one, and as my friend in Germany would say, "It's beer o'clock."

Guide to Bitters

A serious cocktail lover knows a thing or two about these serious spirits

You’ll know a true cocktail lover by the quick-but-intense scan he gives the bar before settling down in front of it. He is evaluating two things – first, the range of alcohol on display, but second and more importantly, the range of bitters. You know a serious cocktail bar by the pride it takes in its display of bitters (tip: look for the small Tabasco-like bottles with strange labels.) Sadly, at the moment in India, you’ll have to skim a fair spread of bars to find a bitters list that’s longer than two. But we’re getting there. Slowly.

What are bitters?
In the simplest terms, bitters are a highly concentrated, flavoured spirit. They are made by infusing or macerating a variety of fruits, herbs and spices into a high-proof alcohol. Generally bitters have 35-40% alcohol and are used as an aromatic flavouring agent in cocktails. Because they are so concentrated, a mere two or three dashes of bitters add a beautiful complexity and length to any cocktail. Though they might have lost their favour for a while before they came back with a bang, bitters have always been instrumental in cocktail-making. One of the first definitions of a cocktail is a combination of spirit, water, sugar and bitters.

Where did they come from?
Most bitters began as medicinal tonics, to cure everything from gout to kidney ailments in the 1800s. Right. A straight shot of alcohol to cure diseases – we’re definitely born in the wrong century. Luckily for us, these concoctions soon found their way into home kitchens, and then bars. Turns out this was exactly the kick that the old-timers had been missing in their cocktails all along. It’s ironic that something so unpalatable when tasted raw lends smoothness when added to a drink, rounding the harshness of the alcohol.

Some of us have been drinking bitters for ages without knowing it. Campari, Jagermeister, Cynar… sound familiar? These belong to the category of ‘potable bitters’ which means they can be had on their own.

Not everything tastes better with bitters. Well, okay, maybe it does. But still, know where and when to ask for uncustomary bitters in your drink. After all, it’s never good to piss off your bartender unless you’re okay with a side order of spit.

Who makes them?
Angostura: Without a doubt this one’s the most famous bitters there is. This is every bar’s staple. It makes an appearance in quite a few Indian bars too. You’ll recognise it by its ill-fitting white label. Why ill-fitting? Apparently the wrong size was ordered and everyone in the factory thought someone else would fix the mistake, but no one did and now the over sized label has become a trademark.

Regan's Orange Bitters No.6: When Gary Regan he puts his face (and beard) on a bottle of bitters, safe to say it’s worth its weight in gold. This one packs quite a punch compared to the other orange bitters – spicy, rich and powerful.

The Bitter Truth, Fee Brothers and Boker’s Bitters are other notable brands of bitters.

So how do use these bitters in your drink? Read on.

How can you make them?
We asked around for a DIY recipe for that over-enthusiastic bunch. To achieve the level of concentration that bitters possess, the flavoured spirit is distilled a final time before it is ready.  Understand then that unless you have easy access to a distillation pot, homemade bitters are a far stretch from the real deal. Still, it’s a great way to experiment with various flavours and figure what you like best.

Mixologist Arijit Bose of PCO in Vasant Vihar said that when he makes his bitters he uses a bit of Angostura to add the depth and length that distillation would give. So his recipe for Coriander Bitters is 300 ml of high-proof alcohol (Smirnoff, for example) with 100 gms of coriander. Leave it to steep for two weeks and then add 50-60 ml of Angostura. Because of the higher concentration of the coriander, the resultant bitters still hold the flavour, with just the right kick.

But then, sourcing your bitters can be hard, so just skip the added bitters and you’ll still have a decent concoction. Bose recommends beginning with saffron bitters: gin, a few slivers of saffron, two weeks of patience – and there’s your bitters with an Indian twist!

A word of warning – be careful what you use to make your bitters. Do your research to make sure there aren’t any harmful effects of the herb or spice you’re using.


Many classic cocktails call for the use of bitters, we ask Arjit Bose for two classic recipes and one with a twist from PCO :

The Old-Fashioned
This version calls for the addition of a maraschino cherry and a slice of orange. Feel free to omit the fruit if you so desire.
2 ½ ounces of Bourbon       
 ½ an Orange slice
1 Maraschino cherry, stem removed
3 dashes of Orange Bitters #4 or Angostura bitters
1 teaspoon of Water
½ teaspoon of superfine sugar
In an old-fashioned glass, combine the orange slice, cherry, bitters, water and sugar. Using the back of a spoon, muddle the ingredients, dissolving the sugar and mashing up the fruit. Fill the glass with ice cubes, add the bourbon and stir gently.

A native New Yorker, this bourbon base classic stems from the late 19th Century. It was possibly the first cocktail made from the US import, red Italian 'Vino Vermouth'.
30 ml of Martini Rosso
30 ml of Rye Whisky
1 dash of Angostura Bitters
Place all the ingredients in a mixing glass with cubed ice. Stir 12 times in a clockwise direction. Single strain this into a martini glass. Garnish with a fresh cherry.

PCO 40 Deuce
This cocktail was created at PCO in Delhi and is a stunner.
50 ml of luxury vodka
15 ml of Monin Triple sec
10 ml of lime juice
45 ml of Ceres Grapefruit Juice
2-3 dashes of Lavender Bitters
In a shaker add the vodka, triple sec, lime juice and  grapefruit juice. Shake and double strain the mixture into a martini glass and garnish with a few drops of Lavender bitters. Bliss.

Everything you need to know about vodka

Vodka is more than a mere vehicle for your energy drink. 

Shaken not stirred: Vodka has been having a bit of an image crisis. Previously noted as the drink of choice of sharp-suited double-oh spies and mucho macho Russian oligarchs, over the past couple of decades the association has gotten significantly less… manly. Mention vodka to your average scotch-swilling aficionado and chances are he’ll dismiss it as either too feminine (thanks, Carrie Bradshaw) or too young (vodka-Red Bull and glow sticks, anyone?) – and he wouldn't be entirely wrong.
Given its smooth, near tasteless nature, vodka is the easy gateway drink for palates not yet accustomed to stronger spirits. Like a liquid chameleon, a vodka-based drink takes on the properties of whatever you mix it with: cranberries in the case of the Cosmo, OJ if your poison is that college-bar staple Sex on the Beach and Red Bull for hundreds of thousands of bouncing club-goers the world over.
But news flash: That’s not all vodka is good for. If you give it the chance to prove itself – instead of drowning it in the juice du jour – vodka emerges as not just a nuanced spirit but also a multidimensional one. James Bond knew that. As does any Muscovite – neat, chilled, in a shot, or not at all. When in Moscow…

What is vodka exactly?

No, “the white spirit that’s not gin” is not the answer we’re looking for. Vodka is any clear drink distilled from fermented ingredients like grains and potatoes, sometimes sugar or fruit, and largely consists of water and ethanol. Like whisky, it goes through a distillation process – though usually in column stills rather than pot stills – and is then filtered to remove as many congeners as possible (which contributes to the almost neutral taste of the spirit – and is also why drinking premium vodka rarely induces a bad hangover).

So then what makes one vodka different from another?

It’s a myth that all vodka tastes the same. Sure, its essential characteristics are that it’s smooth and nearly tasteless – but then why would anyone spring for a super premium brand over a regular one? Here’s why: Premium vodkas have subtle yet distinct characteristics. This has to do with their base ingredients, the number of times the spirit is distilled (which affects alcohol percentage) and the rigour and methods of filtration (traditional vodka-producing countries are more likely to allow some congeners to remain for “character”). So, which one should you drink?

Wheat vodka

These are traditionally the Russian-style vodkas: smooth, with an oily mouthfeel and a faint taste of licorice, which is what distinguishes them from the rest. The premium brands can be knocked back neat or mixed in with something neutral like soda or tonic.

Rye vodka

This base grain is most commonly found in Polish vodkas. You know it from the hints of rye bread when you nose it, as well as a slight spiciness on the palate. Some high-end vodkas fall into this category – don’t kill them with an overpowering mixer.

Potato vodka

Less common than grain vodkas, the potato-based spirit comes at a premium price – and is absolutely worth it for its creamy, rich mouth feel. This one’s for sipping. Shooting at Arctic temperatures is also acceptable.

Molasses vodka

This sugar by-product is used mostly in mass-market, non-premium brands – ie, highly avoidable. Especially if you’re looking to escape one hell of a hangover the next day.

Flavoured vodka

Every major commercial brand – be it grain, grape or sugar-based vodka – has diversified into flavor infused stuff. Note: You are not, nor should you be, the target market. Leave that to the kids.

And if you must mix…

The list of vodka cocktails is short. For the most part, they’re daytime cocktails – except for the classic vodka martini, naturally. As for the rest: We’d never say no to a Bloody Mary, that staple of late Sunday brunches and all-round hangover killer. And a lime caprioska, to beat the summer heat, is also acceptable. But absolutely no kamikazes. What are you, 16?

3 Liquor brands to know

Sipsmith Gin
Born over 200 years ago in the UK, Sipsmith is a complex gin made from ingredients sourced from all over the world (Macedonian juniper berries, Bulgarian coriander seeds, Sevillian orange, Spanish licorice root, Chinese cassia bark). It’s smooth enough for a martini, yet rich enough for the perfect British G&T.

Puschkin Vodka 
Available in crystal clear and whipped cream, this German vodka undergoes an ice filtration process to give it a clean flavour. Best for shots, or drinking on the rocks. Available at most liquor shops across India.

Carling Beer
Brought to India by the makers of Cobra beer, this is one of the best-selling lagers in the UK. Light with a sweet hoppy taste, it’s best for afternoon drinking in front of the TV. Available at most liquor shops across India.