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Cocktail hour

You've joined me at a propitious time here at 172b Glibbman Mansions: it's cocktail hour! What? I'll be dashed! Of course I know that half past nine in the morning is too early; too early is my favourite time. Cheek.

So what'll you have?

Think we'll take Groucho's advice to start, and slip out of these wet clothes and into a dry martini. As you know, the term 'dry' refers to the proportion of vermouth (Martini being the better known brand) and gin; the less vermouth, the dryer the martini. All right thinking people (lushes) prefer their martini positively parched, and there are all sorts of marvellous formulae for achieving this:

  • Let the sun shine through a bottle of vermouth into the gin.
  • Stand in the corner with a glass of gin and think very hard about vermouth.
  • And Winston Churchill's excellent 'Pour a large glass of gin then glance nonchalantly across the room at a bottle of vermouth'.
  • My own recipe is outlined above.

Some bartenders have been known to use perfume atomisers to coat the cold gin with a film of vermouth. If using Gordon's gin, I recommend that you fail to wash the atomiser first: this just might lend the stuff a bit of flavour.

Ah, that slipped down very pleasantly. Now, strictly speaking, we should have another several of these (see this helpful advice) but we'll move on.

Staying with gin, however, but skipping back across the pond back to Blighty we'll have a round of pinkers, my name for pink gin, which should be regarded as the British martini I think.

I should just say, at this point, that I like my cocktails to taste of alcohol. It is my constant horror, at parties, to encounter what seems to be a delicious punch only to find, on stirring, that some blighter's spiked the blasted thing with fruit, which lurches sickeningly to the top like so many drowned corpses. Not such a bad way to go but I'm damned if I'm sharing me bath with a lot of grocery produce. Fruit cocktails are hardly better. I eschew them, because I prefer just to swallow.

Now, the pink gin is beautifully, elegantly simple. It qualifies for the term 'cocktail', unlike the divine G & T, because it has two types of booze in it. But only just. Take a tumbler, swish a little bitters in the bottom, add Plymouth Gin. Drink the bugger. If you've been keeping your gin in the freezer, as I instructed, then there's no need for shaking or stirring. The pink gin is steeped in naval tradition, much as naval officers are steeped in pink gin, and this is why the required gin is Plymouth, spiritual home of the British navy. If you don't use Plymouth then it's something else, equally delectable, n'doubt, but not pinkers. 'Course, a friend of mine notes that the actual colour of the pink gin is beige, but this overlooks the poetry of the matter, I feel.

Now we have our sea legs, let's hie us back across the Atlantic for a Manhattan: bourbon, bitters and... is it red vermouth or grenadine, I can never remember. Let's slosh 'em both in. Yum, I can hear Gershwin.

You'll notice that I favour the classic cocktails. There is an elegance in their construction or flavour that I find irresistible. Also, I live in the past. Presumably people in the past also drank hideous, fruit laden confections with innuendos instead of names, but if Bogie never asked for one, then I don’t know about it.

Lest I protest too much about the names of modern cocktails, however, I ought to remind myself that I have created a cocktail of my own, and its name is as much in the gutter as the unfortunate imbiber of a couple of the things. I'd hate you to think I was being a hypocrite, or rather, that I didn't know I was being a hypocrite, which is far worse.

So we finish (and it will finish us) with spimcoot's own: the whisky tit. It’s a pendulous drink; the sort of thing you think it might be a good idea to get your hands on a pair of at the end of the evening, then wake up reeling with regret on the morrow. The contents of this nefarious potion? An equal measure each of whisky and port (doubles, of course). Why the name? Perhaps to sound like its mellow cousin, the superlative winter warmer, the whisky mac (equal measures, more or less, of whisky and ginger wine). Perhaps in deference to the shape of the brandy glass in which I first supped one. There again, ask yourself, what sort of person would drink such a thing? Quite.

Hullo, where are you? Don't tell me the stuff has robbed me of sight already. Ah, there you are. I say, what are you doing down there? Oh dear, we must have reached that stage where the floor becomes all bolshie and 'in your face', rushing up to meet one like an over enthusiastic 'thump' hmp, thought so.


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