Monday, July 16, 2007

Mixology Monday: Blog Love

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Dr. Bamboo, or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Blog

For this month's MxMo my intent was to try a recipe I found over at Intoxicated Zodiac that called for gin, lime juice, simple syrup, and rose water. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to lay my hands on any rose water (not being able to locate a key ingredient is a recurring motif in my adventures).

However, I still had an ample supply of gin and limes. That, combined with Paul’s invitation to do a bit of navel-gazing on the nature of booze-blogging got me going in a whole new direction. Serendipity ahoy!

As I looked at that proud, clear bottle I began thinking about gin…which got me thinking about the Gin & Tonic…which made me realize if it weren’t for the Gin & Tonic, I may not have arrived at the point where I spend many an evening and weekend hunched over the kitchen counter, poring through drink recipes and feeling compelled to toss my findings out here on the web. To put it simply, the Gin & Tonic was the was the first drink I took seriously. (But if you want to see two people who really take the Gin & Tonic seriously, check out these recent posts over at Jimmy's Cocktail Hour and The Art of Drink).

My first brush with gin was not long after I graduated from college. A friend asked me if I’d ever had a Gin & Tonic, and when I’d said no (my only forays into hard liquor had been rum and bourbon), he ordered me one from the bar. I remember liking it immediately, and for the next several years the Gin & Tonic was my drink of choice. (This would change when I encountered my first Martini, but that’s a story for another post).

Gin was a mystery to me. No one I knew drank it. All my friends were devotees of the Brown Stuff (the aforementioned rum & bourbon, almost always dumped haphazardly into a large plastic cup of Coke) and of course vodka, which was a staple for any college student due to it’s “mix-it-with-anything” allure. Tequila (invariably the cheap stuff) occasionally showed up on my radar, but seemed to be consumed solely in shot form by those who considered a social occasion successful only if they awoke the next day sans pants. Brandy was unheard of, but there was a full-tilt schnapps craze in effect, so at any party you were guaranteed to see at least one brightly-colored bottle lurking among the offerings, waiting for it’s next victim (usually female, extroverted, and weighing far less than required for the amount she drank).

Family wasn’t much help either. My father was (and still is) a bourbon guy. My mother rarely drank, and when she did, her tastes ran to the occasional glass of wine, or if on a vacation, a Pina Colada. One grandmother never strayed far from red wine and Black Russians, and I don’t recall the other one’s preferences exactly, but I know they didn’t include gin.

And whenever I asked anyone about gin, I almost always got one of two responses:

#1 (If the person was under 40) “Eeeeyuck! I had that stuff once and it tasted like paint thinner!”

#2 (If the person was over 40) “I think your great-grandmother/father/aunt/uncle used to drink something with gin in it.”

I’d also occasionally get a vague reference to a character from a black-and-white movie. Or someone’s golfing buddy. It seemed that gin was exclusively the domain of classic cinema, the country club set, and the elderly.

Nonetheless, I soldiered on, evangelizing my favorite spirit and proudly brandishing my stubby glass filled with gin, tonic, ice and a plucky little lime wedge- A drink I felt was much, much more than the sum of its parts.

Between then and now I’ve discovered many more great gin drinks. And I’m glad to see that gin seems to finally be shaking off it’s reputation as a stodgy, obscure spirit perennially eclipsed by the other guys on the shelf. I’d like to think that the Gin & Tonic is playing a role somehow. I’m sentimental about the humble G&T; It was the drink that made me realize that hard liquor had more promise than just hastily splashed-together “2-for-1 night” specials and charmless pours in cobwebby clubs.

So rather than presenting a hard recipe, I encourage you to explore the Gin & Tonic on your own. Unlike when I first ran across gin, there is now a great selection of brands and styles. There are also some wonderful new tonics popping up here and there, so pick up a few and start experimenting. Find something you like. Make the Gin & Tonic your drink in some special way.

And if you discover that you really like fiddling with drink recipes to the point where you simply must tell someone about it…I hear there’s a bunch of people on the web who are really into this stuff.


One last note: Since we’re talking about Blog Love, I’d be dropping the ball in a big way if I didn’t give a hearty shout to Rick over at Kaiser Penguin. KP was one of the first booze blogs I discovered, and I became a regular reader on the spot. Rick has an unerring intuition where good recipes are concerned, and his ability to communicate their subtleties is amazing. And anyone who has seen his site knows it goes without saying that his photos are superb. They make me want to climb through the screen to get at ‘em.

Other people must think so too- there’s a reason his site shows up on almost everybody’s links list.

Rick was also the one who first urged me to start my own booze blog, patiently answering my questions and providing an abundance of great tips & advice. Thanks for all the encouragement Rick! (By the way, I’m saving all my State Store receipts so you can reimburse me at your convenience).

UPDATE: Robert Hess joins the G&T discussion with a great piece over at The Spirit World.