Monday, April 18, 2011

International Spirits: Feni

Few times in my travels have I encountered a new and exotic spirit that, if available, would become my drink of choice. Cashew feni is one of those drinks. Straight up it goes down rough, very rough; singing the drinkers nostrils and throat before settling in the stomach. Mixed with the citrus flavoured Coca-cola product 'Limca' it becomes and all together different experience. The drink is sweet and smooth and is highlighted by a wonderful nutty aftertaste that accompanies the fizzy Limca beautifully. If only cashew fenny was available outside the state of Goa, India.

Fenny or Feni is a Goan liquor made from either coconut or the juice of the cashew apple. Feni is classified as a 'country liquor', and therefore not sold outside the State of Goa in India. In recent years Cashew Feni government registration ensuring that only specialty alcoholic produced in Goa can bear the name.

In the traditional method of making cashew feni, the cashew apples are crushed and formed into a cake that is tied with string. This is placed in a stone basin with an outlet for the juice, called a coimbi, and a heavy boulder is placed on top. The juice expressed is known as Neero, which is sometimes used medicinally as a laxative. The Neero is collected in a large earthen pot called a Kodem, which is buried in the ground and left to ferment for several days. The resulting alcoholic juice is then distilled up to three times to produce feni which can be up to 45% alcohol (90 proof).
Cashew Apples
While cashew feni has a nice nutty aftertaste that compliments any mixer the coconut fenny is a bit of a disappointment. It manages all the harshness of the cashew feni without and redeeming flavour.

Unfortunately fenny can only be found in the popular Indian tourist state of Goa. If you find yourself seeking a drink on the beaches of Goa; make it a "cashew feni and Limca"

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