I’m delighted to hear that gin is apparently the spirit of the moment. Consumption has increased by 7 percent across western Europe in the past year!
The last gin and tonic I had was on this month’s Virgin Atlantic flight of all places (side note: my return flight from the U.K. to the U.S. was MUCH better than my trip going over. We went Premium Economy, I didn’t eat the Gu and didn’t vomit once! Score!). Our flight attendant was charming, ebullient without being ingratiating and could make a mean drink! I spotted her bringing out a big bottle of Bombay Sapphire (yes, no minis!!) as she served a man in front of me and something about that cool, soothing blue shade of the bottle inspired me to order one. It was phenomenal!
There’s something extremely luxurious about someone fixing you a real drink, when you’re 30,000 feet up, using a real glass (not plastic), with a real lime and real ice cubes with a decorative swizzle stick that makes one feel positively pampered. It remains one of the top 10 best gin and tonics I’ve ever had!
How do you feel about gin? Yay or nay? And where’s the best gin and tonic that you’ve ever had?! Spill!
Is it just me or is this cold/flu season hitting particularly hard?
I suffered the better part of November with a lingering cough that I couldn’t kick (although I would’ve kicked it hard, wearing a pair of steel-toed Doc Martens, if I could) – and the more people that I talk to, the more I realize that this is one monster of a cold going around. But never fear … there are remedies! Good ones! In this weekend’s Wall Street Journal, a suggestion for an outstanding one went something like this:
In a large cup, combine 1 spoonful honey, juice of 1/4 lemon, 1 cinnamon stick, small dash of cayenne (optional but recommended) and the tea bag of your choice. Stick 3 cloves into 1 small lemon wedge and add to the cup. Pour in a slug of bourbon, as much or as little as you like. Fill cup with boiling water, stir well and let steep 5 minutes. Savor slowly; repeat as necessary.
Yes! Cayenne and tea jazz up this classic recipe. The writer suggests Earl Gray, Chai, ginger tea or, indeed, chamomile, if you’re seeking a little sleeping solace. I have whiskey in the house, but no bourbon (and I do think that Jim Beam would be a delightful choice in this scenario), but now have a good (and health-giving) reason to buy some.
If you try this recipe, please tell me what you think!
We bought some on our last weekly shop and I wasn’t sure what to expect (it’s not often you see a child’s drawing on a label advertising beer!) but it turns out that it is truly a great lager. Not too light, not too pissy (ahem, Coors…). Just refreshing with some body and flavor! Best of all, it’s British and organic! Superb!
With the temperatures rising and summer in full swing, I like to turn to my favorite summertime drink: Pimm’s and lemonade.
It sounds like I’m not alone. It is growing in popularity among Americans, according to the New York Times. Pimm’s is named after James Pimm, the bar owner who created it in the mid 1800s and it is a quintessentially British drink, particularly popular at Wimbledon.
As for the recipe, I usually just eyeball it. One part Pimm’s to three parts lemonade (I like the Santa Cruz brand organic sparkling lemonade but 7up will do) and then add slices of cucumber, oranges, apples, strawberries and fresh mint to the glass and serve over ice.
If you’re looking to buy a bottle of Pimm’s, Bevmo is a safe bet. I bought a bottle recently for $17.99, after trying three different grocery stores and worrying that I might end up Pimm’s-less.
Have you ever had wassail?
On NPR’s “Morning Edition” this morning, reporter Kathleen Osborn discusses her search for this very traditional English drink in New England. Have a listen.
I’ve never tried it, but the following are three very different variations on this festive drink.
Randy Baril’s Wassail Recipe
1/2 gallon beer (Preferably a very malty English-style old ale. Mayflower’s Thanksgiving Ale works really well.)
5 sticks of cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon whole cloves
5 slices fresh ginger
3 whole allspice
1/2 teaspoon sweet orange peel (optional)
On stovetop or in a slow cooker, add spices to beer. (Can use a tea bag for
the clove, allspice and orange so they can be removed easily. Allow
the cinnamon and ginger to go free-range.)
Warm to just under a simmer and hold for at least 30 minutes.
Adjust spice blend to your taste. For extra sweet wassail, add a bit of brown sugar.
Enjoy on a cold winter night in the company of friends and family while singing to keep the dark at bay.
Clarence Zimmerman Family Wassail Recipe
1 to 2 bottles of champagne
1 pint vodka
1 cup brandy
32 ounces fresh tart juice (cranberry or orange)
Mix all ingredients together and pour into a decorative vessel that the whole family can drink from.
The Prince and The Pauper Wassail Recipe
Fresh apple cider
Little bit of orange juice
A little less lemon juice
Dash of nutmeg
Dash of ginger
Steep all ingredients for a half-hour on a low boil. Add brandy, rum or vodka as desired.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – London is home to some of the best restaurants in the world and this week Time Out is highlighting the best of the bunch in their 2011 Eating & Drinking Awards!
This year’s categories include best new restaurant, best sushi bar, best new bar and best new cheap eats.
I’ve already bookmarked it for my next trip to the Big Smoke.
Joy had a wall full of pictures and prints that she wanted to continue to display in an engaging way and Emily was on the case. This charming print was just one of over a dozen on the wall, but its sunny yellow disposition caught my eye.
After a little online digging, I discovered the print was from the Etsy shop of New Zealand-based designer dearcolleen and I’ve since sent the tea towel version to one sister-in-law in New Zealand and another sister-in-law in England. Gin and tonic is the cocktail of choice in most UK households and we love that tradition. It just seemed like a fitting tribute to our favorite elixir.
As a side note, if you’ve never watched Secrets from a Stylist, you don’t know what you’re missing! Full episodes are available online so you can have your own mini marathon any time you like. With or without gin and tonic.
After doing a few minutes of searching on the Internets, I’ve decided that what the world sorely needs is an anthropological study of the drinking habits of people across the globe. A cultural analysis of the inebriated, complete with full color pictures. Maybe a coffee table book.
If such a book were written, then much could be said about the copious amount of singing that goes on in the United Kingdom, following last orders.
For a time, we lived in a cozy flat (translation: apartment) in Edinburgh’s Grassmarket area, a stone’s throw from quite a few pubs. And so it was that every Friday and Saturday night, we would inevitably hear the lilting melodies of “Flower of Scotland,” Scotland’s unofficial national anthem, from roving bands of merriment makers. It was like clockwork. The pubs would close and then, cue the singing. Nothing resembling The Warblers. Always “Flower of Scotland.” Sometimes something by the Pogues.
Now I’m no anthropologist but I think it’s fair to say that such a thing doesn’t happen in the US. There are bar fights, yes. Shouting, of course. Loud chatter and giggles and the clip-clop of heels hitting pavement but strains from “America the Beautiful”? Uh, I think not.