Thursday 2 April 2020

Spirituous Liquor

So as one week lethargically follows the next, I find myself thinking about spirits a lot of the time, these days, what with one thing and another, mostly as a way to lighten the present burden. Gin, whisky. Whisky, gin. And sometimes, just sometimes, my thoughts are echoed by, say, this snippet which I come across from Luis Buñuel:

After the dry martini comes one of my own modest inventions, the Buñueloni, best drunk before dinner. It’s really a takeoff of the famous Negroni, but instead of mixing Campari, gin and sweet Cinzano, I substitute Carpano for the Campari. Here again, the gin - in sufficient quantity to ensure its dominance over the other two ingredients - has excellent effects on the imagination. I’ve no idea how or why; I only know that it works.

Talk about an intelligent use of one’s drinks cabinet. And gin as the great imaginative stimulant: of course. It always comes back to gin.

Then, a few days after my encounter with Buñuel, someone emails me with, among other things, another snippet, this time from that fake F. Scott Fitzgerald letter which was circulating a while back - the one about being quarantined during the Spanish ‘Flu epidemic - especially and not least the bit which goes:

The officials have alerted us to ensure we have a month’s worth of necessities. Zelda and I have stocked up on red wine, whiskey, rum, vermouth, absinthe, white wine, sherry, gin and lord, if we need it, brandy. Please pray for us.

I mean, if I hadn’t subsequently discovered that this started life on McSweeney’s, well, I’d still be musing on the exact quantities Scott and Zelda were planning. It still seems alarmingly plausible, even now. Plausible because, not least, of the absinthe. Gin and absinthe: I must try it one day, if I can ever get any absinthe. If I can ever get out of the house.

And then what do you know but a day later, on A Drinker’s History Of London, I find another piece of pandemic-themed invention:

The ‘Quarantini’ could consist of any remaining dregs of booze you’ve got left in the house after two weeks’ isolation (e.g. a mouthful of grappa, a half-drunk bottle of Nigerian Guinness, an in-flight Beefeater miniature, an ex’s Tia Maria gift set) mixed and chilled as appropriate and gently imbibed.

To which some bright spark has added a more specific Quarantini recipe in the comments section at the bottom:

4 Parts Deaths Door Gin
1 Part Killepitsch Liquor
Several Szechuan Peppercorns

The world is turning inwards as a result of Covid 19 and what it finds in this process of involution is that its collective mind is turning to spirituous liquor, as so often in the past. To put it another way, my mind is turning to spirituous liquor and I’m not alone. Wine won’t do it any more, it’s too frivolous. Wine can’t address the needs of the current ghastly situation. At the moment my own Quarantini is whisky and soda, which I reckon has powerful antiseptic and antiviral properties, especially if drunk in a seated position. Next thing is to try it lying down, as it might be, in bed, recovering. Then maybe walking around at a distance of two metres from passers-by. Then lying down again.

I admit this particular Quarantini isn’t new, nor exactly a recipe, more a statement of fact. Then again, that Red Snapper thing from a few weeks back was scarcely more complicated and it has its own fancy name, so I’ll stick with the elemental ur-pairing for now. Unless there’s something I could add to that whisky and sparkling water mix which would elevate it to the level of something something nameable without actually ruining the taste. I mean, no bitters or vermouth or anything like that. Actually I'm thinking: Paracetamol.


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