The Gin and Bitter Lemon (hereafter referred to as the 'GBL') is a drink lacking the history and trivia that surrounds its big sister the gin and tonic1, but this feisty little upstart makes up for this fact in two ways:
- Firstly, it holds the esteemed position of being one of the most surprisingly delicious and delightful drinks going. Indeed, many people are understandably cynical about mixing their beloved gin with a crude, often luminous cordial such as bitter lemon. This cynicism is then, without fail, pushed aside and replaced by an astonished revelation. If asked to describe a GBL in future, the ex-cynic will almost always use the words moreish, delicious and delightful (or other words to similar effect). While other drinks may garner higher esteem, the GBL will always be the one that has the highest enjoyability to initial expectation ratio.
- Secondly, it is the only drink which is suited to any time of the day. Whether through its refreshing capabilities over breakfast; the gaiety it provides on a sunny afternoon playing or watching cricket; the underlying warmth of the gin on a winter's eve; or its zestiness and strength on a night out, the GBL is a welcome addition to any activity undertaken at any time of the day.
People the length and breadth of Britain have been enjoying this beverage since Schweppes launched their version of the cordial bitter lemon in 1957. Sassy barmen quickly latched on to the idea that a thirst-quenching drink containing gin would be a seller (no doubt after guzzling a few glasses themselves). Its popularity quickly hit a plateau, however, and it remains something of a cult, sometimes sneered upon for being, well, too downright invigorating.
If any adult2 reader has not tried a GBL then this Researcher recommends that they attempt to do so as soon as possible. As stated, any time of day will do, and also as stated, you're in for a nice surprise. Please take care though, for they are tasty and easily imbibed, and as we know everything is best enjoyed in moderation.
Making the Perfect GBL
The method is almost identical to making a good gin and tonic. If you follow the maxim 'if anything is worth doing then it's worth doing properly' you'll be rewarded fittingly.
- Take your favourite tall glass and half fill it with ice; we want this cold.
- Add a good measure of good quality gin3 (between 30ml and 50ml depending on all sorts of factors).
- Add a good slice of lemon or lime. (Lime is by far the better with the more sophisticated tonic, but bitter lemon can handle the pungency of a good slice of lemon.)
- All that remains is to top up your glass with bitter lemon, give it a quick stir and the job, one may say, is a good one.
You may have noticed the omission of a straw. A GBL is better drunk straight from a glass as we want the tangy freshness to swill around and titillate the whole mouth, front and back.