This is a cocktail unlike any other.
Patolio Feni is a cocktail version of Patoli, a famous Goan sweet made from rice flour, coconut and jaggery. Made from coconut feni from the family-owned brand Kazulo Premium Feni, this drink is matched with coconut milk and liquid jaggery. It’s a delicious, sweet drink and just one example of what a talented mixologist can do with a versatile liquor like Goan feni.
Feni is distilled liquor made from the juice of the coconut palm (Nariyal feni) or cashew apple (Kaju feni). Looks like it’s finally having its moment in the sun.
Over the years, mixologists and bartenders have discovered feni’s versatility and have incorporated it into their bar menus. Recently, at Tokyo’s award-winning Bar Benfiditch, mixologist Karl Fernandes conducted a fenny masterclass, introducing the brew to the Japanese bar industry. At the first-ever cashew festival organized by the Goa Forest Development Corporation (GFDC) this April, feni played an able supporting role, sprinkling it on top of classy branded bottles, delicious cocktails, food, chocolates and even ice cream. appeared!
The process of making feni begins with the collection of cashew nuts, which are then separated into cashew apples and cashew nuts. photo credit: Joanna Lobo
“I love this enthusiasm for feni,” says Clement D’Silva, one of the founders of Aani Ek, a Goa-based artisanal brand that launched its infused feni flavor in 2022. It is a catch-all term for a bouquet of offerings. There are now many options for those wanting a good feni,” says Clement, who launched the lemon, chilli and cinnamon honey variants with a “phenomenal response”. The brand can be found in stores and at various markets and pop-ups , which is showcasing the infusion in various cocktails. They now have 12,000 liters of the infusion and Clement says that the greatest joy is when someone knows their fenny, likes it and orders more.” Yes, verification… everything.”
meet the fans
It was a seemingly simple question – “What does India drink?” — which inspired Yash Savardekar to search for the answer. Whiskey didn’t seem like an appropriate answer. The former flight attendant quit her job, moved from Mumbai to Goa with her family in 2021, took over her ancestral cashew farm and started making feni. Goenchi (meaning from/from Goa) launched last August along with a coconut feni; Kaju feni appears in summer.
Yash runs Goenchi with his sister, Tulika, and the siblings are involved in every step of the process – working with distillers at their farm in Sanvordem, conducting sales meetings, designing labels and bottling at innovative distilleries Learn. He spent a significant amount of time perfecting his fenny ‘recipe’ – including measuring the grav (strength), brix level (amount of sugar in 100 grams of solution), specific gravity and pH. “We use modern science to support the knowledge of their ancestors,” Tulika says.
Once the cashew apple is stumped to extract the juice, the remaining pulp is collected in a mound and a heavy weight is placed on top of it. photo credit: Joanna Lobo
For friends Tanishk Palyekar and Ruben Ramos, extracting the fee was par for the course. In 2021, under Final Friday Spirits, they introduced a premium port wine called Vinho Fontainhas. Moji (meaning mine) launched this February. “We wanted to bring the feni name to the market. It should have that reputation attached to it,” says Tanishq. “We want it to become the tequila of Goa.” Feni has a slightly longer fermentation period, and involves a charcoal filtration process, which is done to mute the aroma of feni, which some people find overpowering. The response, especially among tourists, has been good.
A tour of liquor stores indicates that there are at least 20 new feni brands on the market, each showcasing attractive labels and packaging. A spicy feni oro from Goa Heritage Distillery is a recent addition.
Father-son duo, Ajit and Ashok Malkarnekar have been making feni for years, which is especially well received by the guests at their farm stay, Dudhsagar Plantation. After working on their recipe during the lockdown, they are all set to launch a small batch of spicy feni called Oro (gold in Portuguese). “The perception of Fenny has changed over the years. Year after year, we have seen an increasing loyalty from our customers and a willingness to sell at higher rates. Neighborhoods are shunning Fenny production, but we felt It is something worth preserving,” says Ashok.
Beyond experiments and infusions, there is also a bottled feni cocktail – the Rosita. It comes from beverage company Tap-House, and they launched it at Kaju Fest. The idea behind the drink was to answer two questions: where to find good feni and how to drink it. The Rosita is a kokum, lime and feni cocktail that is very light, smells and tastes like a liqueur, and has a lower alcohol content than feni. The tap-house will also be launching its feni soon.
“This interest is desperately needed to keep the artisan feni industry alive,” says Ashok, who envisions the market growing year on year. The popularity of feni could have a ripple effect – with more players in the market, More people learn about it and become educated consumers, and this can lead to more demand for cashew and hopefully more land devoted to its cultivation. Plus, more brands bring healthy competition. “Everyone The market is large enough to survive in. We have access to a market that knows Fenny, and we have to develop that, and get new people interested in the drink,” says Clement.
This wave of interest in Feni could not have come at a more opportune time. The Government of Goa announced the official Goa Feni Policy in 2021 to streamline the production process and popularize the liquor. He has also written to some state excise boards to treat the drink as a heritage spirit, and asked diplomatic missions of some countries in India to import feni. No major changes have happened on the ground yet. Although it has a heritage spirit tag on it, it is still a country ale on paper. Coconut feni is on the decline due to low demand and absence of toddy tappers. The cashew feni produced in the state is not enough to meet the demand. Low returns on such a labor-intensive process are causing many to quit, and cashew farmers receive little help or support.
Feni by Aani Ek | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement
In such a scenario, it is heartening to see a new generation returning to their roots and branding Feni as a premium product.
The Savardekars believe that Feeney suffers from an image issue, which they want to change. “One way to keep feni afloat is to create a premium market for it. With a little marketing, we can sell it for the price it really deserves,” says Yash. A must buy not only to preserve its history and heritage, but also because it’s good.”