I can give you some song and dance about why I was doing this at 1pm on a Tuesday. I can tell you my glossy memory of my first taste at a company holiday party, taken by the shocking delight of it as I sipped from the abandoned glass of a fellow employee while she danced to Escape Club’s Wild Wild West
, and I couldn’t decide if it tasted like Christmas or like camping in August. That I had a really superb one at the Buddha Bar
in Paris, a dark basement with a single 20-foot tall golden Buddha as the only real light source in a room throbbing with seriously hip music and that after a few sips I was refreshed from a 12-mile day on foot in flipflops and ready to tackle the pan-Asian menu. I could tell you that I was doing it to be scientific, a taste comparison, that I’m trying to get away from High Fructose Corn Syrup.
The truth, as it usually is, is much more banal. I thought it sounded fun.
I love gin & tonic. I fell in love at an impressionable age, and fell hard. That miracle at the Buddha Bar- lemon peel in a glass of ice, about four fingers of Tanqueray and a small bottle of tonic water, so that to drink my cocktail I had to first slurp some raw gin simply to make room for the tonic, the drink became fresh and alive and new and interactive- slurp, add, slurp, add, slurp. Eventually the Drinker will reach the happy medium of perfect gin to tonic ratio, or a nice buzz and not care anymore. And yes, I’ve been going away from HFCS, more because the less of it I consume the easier it is to taste and it’s not really pleasant usually, it’s heavy and cloying and the tonic water in Paris doesn’t have HFCS, so I’ve been looking for others but they all have it, all of them, it’s criminal really how something so delicious and promising of both Christmas and
August can be pushed into the culinary muck by the addition of a highly processed sugar additive. I almost made my own tonic, based on some internet recipes
, but that’s like spinning your own wool when you can’t find a pair of socks that fit just so. One must draw the line.
So there I was, sneaking into liquor stores at 11am on Tuesday. My family is Southern Baptist, which means no alcohol. They live in a wet county
, but that’s likely because it’s so close to Ohio, nearly everything nearby is dry. When my cousin was married, the reception had two rooms- the bar was in a smaller, separate room and anyone that wanted a Bud Lite had to walk the walk of shame: past the Sunday School-teaching grandparents with their baleful disapproving eyes, past the tables of little knowing children, past the judgmental stare of God himself. That didn’t make me feel as ashamed as a Washington State Liquor Store. Nothing makes me feel dirtier and sin-soaked than walking around a Washington State Liquor Store. They’re run by the government, puritanically sparse for maximum disapproval, they’re just square rooms with hooch stacked around, not really a place to go and read labels or consider brands. It’s a smaller version of a warehouse. Or the DMV, but with Captain Morgan’s Rum and no chairs. Somehow, this separateness from other commerce, this feeling that Big Brother is Watching You, gives the whole act of buying a fifth of Bailey’s a sordid and distasteful quality.
But I was doing it in search of the Perfect Gin & Tonic. I had a couple varieties on hand, plus I bought samples of Cascade Mountain, Gordon’s, and New Amsterdam. Tonic contenders: Diet & regular Schwepps, Hansen’s , Stirrings.
I lined up my shot glasses and poured.
Obviously not an exhaustive sampling, but good enough for 1pm on Tuesday. And the winner was: Tanqueray Rangpur Lime Gin
(make sure to follow the link, it’s a great site) and Stirrings
Then I took a nap. But not before writing some inspired haiku:
Oh lovely gin drink
Tastes of summer and Christmas
Make me smile again
Cold gin and tonic
Sparkling with green lime curl
Now you complete me