Thursday 19 April 2018

More Gin

So a couple of our chums were giving us a meal a few weeks ago (I mean, top-flight stuff, fennel and blood orange, salmon, Pouilly Fum√©, it's that good) and to start off, we get a gin and tonic. But not just a Weybridge G & T, no, this one is a rhubarb gin, made by Slingsby's of Harrogate and presented in a frosted glass bottle like a bumper of perfume, topped off with fresh Fever-Tree tonic, American-sized ice cubes and slices of a kind of lemon/lime hybrid which I have never encountered before but which looks a bit like a tiny watermelon. We grasp our fabulous, scintillating, very slightly pinkened tumblers and get stuck in. And it is beyond delicious. In fact it seems to be the most delicious drink I have ever drunk. I can't believe how life-enhancing and yet thirst-quenching it is. And it has rhubarb in it. How can this be?

Normally I would worry about a gin with rhubarb in it. There are so many gins, so many craft gins, so many craft gins with stuff in them (cherry and almond, strawberry, orange, rose, honey, pomegranite, sprouts, cornflower, yacht varnish, you name it), all crossing some unhappy conceptual divide between adult tastes and the world of the nursery, that anything resembling them (with rhubarb in it, let's say) sets my alarms ringing. But what do you know? The rhubarb lends tartness to the mix as well as a kind of supernatural earthy fragrance: this is G & T taken to a new level - impeccably served, let's not forget - and I never want to drink anything else. Light, clarity and ebullience fill me from top to toe. It's a revelation.

Of course, gin is always doing this, surprising me with its fabulousness - from the Martinis I made earlier this year (with a gin given me by the rhubarb gin lady, a lady who really understands and appreciates her gins) to my tour round the Sipsmith factory three years ago: it keeps jumping out like an implausibly happy memory. And my response is always to wonder why I don't drink gin for ever after, in all its permutations, and kiss tiresome, unpredictable, overpriced wine goodbye.

So I think for a bit. And then I get it: tragically, I realise that the reason I can't get by on gin alone, is because it doesn't go with food - not that much, anyway. I hate to sound like PK with his endless hypothetical dinner parties and his fine wine appreciations, but there is an issue, here. The only food I can think of, off-hand, that goes well with a brimming G & T is curry - not least because of the colonial overtones. Other than that? I'm open to suggestions, but doubtfully. Also it only really works as a big, sparkling G & T, unless you're making cocktails, but who does that on a Tuesday evening at home? If you want it at room temperature and not long, what else is there but wine?

Oh, but of course: whisky. Whisky! Why didn't I think of this before? It goes long, it goes short, there are all sorts of different styles of whisky, you can take it at any temperature you like, even hot, and it lends itself precisely to the sorts of foods they might traditionally consume in Scotland - beef, salmon, lamb; arguably, raspberries and tayberries. I suppose, porridge. Dundee cake. Haggis for sure - in fact you're meant to pour whisky over the steaming concoction before you start eating it. I even like haggis, which I like to think gives me some perverse currency, somewhere, almost certainly not in Scotland itself. In fact I can't think off-hand of anything I wouldn't drink whisky with, although pasta might be a stretch. Damn! The answer was there all along! Gin and whisky! All right, maybe an occasional beer, because who doesn't like beer? Gin, whisky and beer! The tyranny of the wine rack is a thing of the past! It's 1957 and I'm going to have a party. Just you watch.



  1. Ssh! Any more of that and you might get a knock on the door by a couple of heavies from the UKVA.

  2. I'm not afraid of them...

    At least I don't think I'm afraid of them...

  3. Have ordered a bottle! What's the name of the lemon/lime hybrid??

  4. Well I hope it goes down a treat..!

    The lemon/lime thing I think was really a lemon with a very fancy exterior, altho' I could be wrong about that. I also think (but only think) that it came from M & S Food. See if that works...

  5. Thank you ... just wondered if it could have been a bergamot but they are out of season now. We had a couple at Christmas (they're expensive) and they were so tasty and fragrant - made our gin and tonics lovely.


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