Gin. Mother’s ruin. But is it weird to say that I started to drink gin because of my Dad? Yes that does sound weird, like I grew up not getting enough cuddles.
But the truth is my Dad taught me to appreciate the art of a decent G&T. Like he taught me to never buy a new car, install decent anti-virus software and appreciate the Rolling Stones. As I got used to how it made me feel; relaxed, un-phased, off the grid, I learned to respect the solid, British, masculine heart of an ice cold G&T. (Not saying gin is a man’s drink, but all objects do have a gender and I’m pretty certain that at the bottom of a gin bottle lies the soul of a disillusioned man).
I made bad gin and tonics at university. Sometimes I made them without ice, with tepid tonic water and always, always with too much gin. So much gin that people would physically shudder and look at me like I was ‘mental’ .But you know what I never did? I never descended to using lemon. ALWAYS LIME.
Hell hath no more contempt than me and my Dad, faced with a waiter who thinks its acceptable to put a slice of lemon instead of lime a G&T. And bloody fair enough. This is 2014. No one needs to live like the cast of Only Fools and Horses.
I don’t drink as much gin these days. I’d go as far to say I don’t drink nearly enough. But then again, I went through enough Bombay Saphire at university to put me in a workhouse (if we’d been in Dickensian times). I limit my gin intake now to only sinking 1-2 in a row, after I linked it with a bout of unexplained crying on nights out. The number of concerned looks I’ve had from people when I’ve admitted that is countless: ‘What you didn’t know gin is a depressive? You need to get on the voddies girl!!”
So anyway, the point of this post is to say that bearing all of this in mind, when a mixologist in Portugal had the audacity to suggest he made the best G&Ts in the world, I’m sure you can imagine the arched eyebrows I exchanged with my Dad.
But I’m a big enough girl to admit when I’m wrong. This barman – of the Heinz Beck restaurant at The Conrad hotel in The Algarve – actually did fulfill his promise in unexpected ways. A bit like the Walt White of drinks.
Talking about his formula – this man, whose name I never caught – explained how some of the secret is to melt and freeze juniper berries into ice cubes (which turn ‘antifreeze’ blue), so that the taste of gin never dilutes, even when your ice-cube melts. He also pats the glass with a lime, so the taste stays on your fingers as you sip. He has thought of everything – except how to mass-produce this.
The drink was inspirational, iconic, magic. Nothing will ever be the same again.
Since then, I’ve been sinking gin like crazy, like a woman trying to replace a good lover . In fact, I had one earlier tonight, before I wrote this. Although the restaurant ‘didn’t have lime’…Fascists.