Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Mixology Monday, November

Here I come careening in at the last possible moment to share a drink at the online cocktail party, otherwise known as Paul Clarke’s baby, the infamous MxMo! This month, Jay - Britain’s premiere imbiber at Oh Gosh! - is host. He has chosen none other than “gin” as the topic. “Pip, pip, cheerio!” I say to that.

While I enjoy a vodka cocktail from time to time, it has staged a sneaky little take-over, pushing gin out of the limelight for the last several years. (I blame it all on Sex in the City and their over-exposed favorite cocktail, and the inane multitude of variations of the Cosmo… but that's ranting from other posts.)

So, here we are with gin back at the forefront. I mean – geesh – have you noticed all the gins (and “gin light”) on the market lately? What do I mean by “gin light?” Well, let’s put it this way…

As with whiskey, some people (women in particular) get it in their heads that gin is “too strong,” “will give me a terrible hangover,” “is an old man’s drink.”

While the mainstays of solid, good old aromatic gin (like Bombay Sapphire, for example) are regularly enjoyed by the masculine and well-to-do, new products appeal to the gin-wary. G’Vine has more floral notes that juniper ones. Sonnema Herb refers to itself as a ‘vodka’ but it does have juniper notes. (Isn’t juniper what makes a ‘vodka’ a ‘gin,’ after all?) Damrak is angling to get Holland back in the gin game (gin began as genever, then became the drink we know when British soldiers brought it back to the home country, and later to India where the ‘gin and tonic’ was widely drunk … for “medicinal purposes” staving off Malaria.) Today, rebellious Blue Coat gin steals the British spirit Stateside.

A whole bevy of our favorite vodka drinks began with gin – from the martini (originally made with a 7:1 ratio of gin and vermouth) to the Snapper (predecessor to the Bloody Mary).

And, of course, throwing in a bit of feminine lore, lovers of the literati and the wild girls of the roaring 20’s must read Bobbed Hair and Bathtub Gin (recipe for bathtub gin in this post) These rebellious beauties (Zelda Fitzgerald, Dorothy Parker, Edna St. Vincent Millay and Edna Ferber) would drive any sane man to the bottle --- only it would already be empty because the gals would have finished it off hours before!

So, I suppose this is the time when I present a cocktail to share with the MxMo party crowd. Well, since I’m running late, and you’ve probably already drunk your fill, I will leave you with my version a morning-after waster-chaser:

The Liquid Muse Snapper (with a kick)

2 ounces tomato water*
1 1/2 ounces gin
dash salt, pepper, Angostura bitters
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
1/4 ounce lemon juice
1/4 ounce lime juice
lemon wheel
sprig of fresh dill

Rim a Collins glass with ground chili powder. Fill with ice. Set aside. Shake tomato water, gin, salt, pepper, bitters and lemon & lime juices, with ice. Strain into tall glass. Garnish with a lemon wheel and sprig of dill. Enjoy with an aspirin and a big glass of water after a night out...

*Personally, I can’t stand thick tomato juice, so I prefer tomato water. Make it by freezing several tomatoes overnight, in a glass bowl. Thaw them the next morning in the same bowl and save the liquid that collects in it. Next, peel off the skin of each tomato, and squeeze it over the bowl, so its juice adds to the contents of the bowl. (Set the meat of the tomatoes aside to make pasta sauce.) Strain the liquid from the bowl, and voila – tomato water!

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