Friday, 15 November 2013

Six of My Best Uses for Gin

Ah, the old blue ruin, the old needle and pin, the old strip-me-naked, the old… I’ll stop that now. Gin, I mean. I mean gin.

So often associated with tears and early death, gin surely deserves a reassessment, doesn’t it? Gin bars are all the rage in that London, and no one has hallucinated 6ft ants from drinking it for decades now. So this is what I, armed with a big bottle of Beefeater’s, (which they kindly sent me to help with this experiement) a bit of time and an agile, inquiring mind, set myself the task to find out.

I present the results to you now. They were mixed, in more ways than one…

1. Gin martinis, for example (I prefer the Kingsley Amis recipe: ice-cold glass and gin, 12-15 parts gin to one of dry vermouth, small cocktail onions). Drinking this cocktail will, for a time, make you feel like a king wearing a new and particularly fetching crown, but drink more than two and the moment you switch to any other alcoholic drink you will in effect have signed your soul over to the devil, who will make you do awful things in his name. More than two martinis will also have an antithetical effect on literary skill, another keen insight offered by Mr Amis.

2. The same or very similar can be said for pink gin (gin mixed with as many drops of Angostura bitters as suits your palate, served ice-cold in a martini glass). You may as well be running a multi billion-dollar ad agency and flying business-class out to Detroit to pitch the big one to Chevy while drinking this drink. But get too cocky with it and you’re just some drunk watching endless repeats of Mad Men on your own.

3. Gin is a very creditable marinade base for most raw fish. You might have come across gin-cured salmon (as in gravad lax), you might not, but it’s out there and it’s very nice indeed, particularly if there’s a sweet, earthy red beetroot and some horseradish cream involved – something about that mix with the botanicals of the spirit. There’s also ceviche. You might also try this recipe and surprise, possibly even arouse, your dinner guests (serves four as a starter): a few washed scallops sliced in half; 50ml of gin, juice of one tangerine, juice of half a lime, pinch of salt, finely diced red chilli, chopped coriander; serve with a tiny pile of rice noodles and a soy reduction: a big glug dark soy sauce and half a tablespoon of sugar, reduce to a thin syrup, then let cool (remember it will thicken as it cools).

4. Gin can be used to ward off vampires. One of the distillate’s lesser known qualities, though only evident at large doses. It’s not that heady juniper vapour rising from your unconscious body that makes them vanish back into the night, it’s the tortured flapping and screaming you are doing in your tortured gin-sleep.

5. Gin makes grapefruit interesting. Take half a chilled grapefruit, preferably a pink one; slice around the edge of the flesh, without piercing the skin; carefully cut out as much of the central bit of pith as you can, which will create a sort of well; pour ice-cold gin into well; sip; repeat until juice has gone; go to work. Some attribution needed here. This is a recipe used by Bill Murray’s version of Hunter S Thompson in the excellent film Where The Buffalo Roam. I think he used vodka, but the benefits with gin are confirmed.

6. Gin is an essential ingredient in what is destined to be the cocktail of Christmas 2013: The Ladyboy. You know the one: pint of lager (any type) with chasers of a small Baileys (25ml) and a gin and tonic. This is of course the cocktail du choix of North Norfolk’s best-mix DJ Alan Gordon Partridge. You may like to note that, around the Christmas holiday, Alan likes to swap the Baileys for eggnog and that, if he’s feeling very naughty, he’ll use both.

Images taken from Stuart Webster, Mr ThinkTank and Muffet's photostreams respectively under the Creative Commons License

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