March 3, 2009

What I’m Drinking Right Now: English Martini (Winter Style)

So, right, I tend to dislike lack of originality in naming drinks. I’m upfront about it. I think drinks are imaginative little mixes that drive us to better conversations as well as transporting us from the mundane and providing us with flights of fancy and joyous silly-ness and good spirits (hah). And sure, I’m flowery, but that’s all right, right? With that said then, my take is that if you come up with a really good drink then you should come up with a really good name to match (such as Mrs. Solomon Wears Slacks), and to bring the whole creative process full circle. Which is why just adding “ini” or “olitan” to something and calling it a fine moniker bores me, even when the drink’s scrumptious. But, in the case of the English Martini, I’ll put up with it, cause that’s the way I heard it when first sampling the particular combination, and if I change it now I’ll get confused (which happens so often, why increase the possibilities?). If this all sounds a touch hypocritical to you, well, I’ll buy your next drink in penance. Anywho, the reason I’m now calling it “English Martini (Winter Style)” is that when I had one last night I used Pimm’s # 3 Winter Cup, which is based on brandy (instead of gin, like Pimm’s # 1 Cup) in a ménage with orange and spices. I don’t believe it’s available stateside (he says, like a yank), but I picked some up when on a U.K. trip last fall. It was pretty good in this drink, but I think I’ll try orange juice, instead of lemon juice, when making it again. And maybe up the Pimm’s a bit. And maybe then come up with a new name. Still, it warmed me inside and out, and got me dreaming about strolling along one of those green-as-green-can-be English hillsides, with white puffy sheep frolicking on every side. Nice stuff, isn’t it?


Ice cubes

2 ounces gin

1 ounce Pimm’s No. 3 Cup

1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice

Lemon twist, for garnish


1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add everything but the twist. Shake well.


2. Strain the mix into a cocktail glass, and garnish with that lemon twist.

September 30, 2008

Drinks on the Road: U.K. Drinks, Part One

Just flew back in from a U.K. vacation (and I have to say, boy are my arms tired. No, really, I had to say it. I was forced by the lame jokes union, who said they’d cut off my supply of Strega if I didn’t use that particular line), where I not only had the brilliant pleasure of seeing the almighty Mighty Boosh live (a show I suggest everyone see before they shuffle off unless they’re very, very lame), but also had some fine drinks. The drinks came in the cocktail, highball, cider, and beer varieties, depending on the place and time and situation. The trip started in London, and started heavier on the cider and beer sides of the bar. I’m a large cider lover (take that as you will–there are what, at least four ways to take it), and the U.K. is an ideal spot to try out members of the cider species, including Aspalls Suffolk Cider, which I had at the Royal George Pub (in the Charing Cross neighborhood–I think), a punkish pub suggested by pals Stereolad and Schtickergirl, who came along for this U.K. adventure and who know their London spots. The Aspalls was “light, dry, and flouncy.”


Wife Natalie was a bit pooped by the time we hit the George (we’d been doing the London market experience all the live-long day), and went for an old reliable: the ice-cold Peroni, which is good no matter what country you’re visiting.



We also went in for the Pimm’s multiple times during the trip (and even brought back a bottle of Pimm’s No. 3, which is the brandy-based winter version, and hard to get over here in the WA), which only makes sense, with Pimm’s being an English standby and a favorite on warm days, which we had plenty of–who says the U.K. is cloudy and rainy and gothic-novel-melancholic 365 days a year by the way? That’s crazy talk. We had a few fine Pimm’s Cups, but the absolute finest, the tip top Pimm’s Cup, maybe in all of the U.K., but definitely in the parts we visited, was discovered at the White Bear Hotel, in Masham, in the Yorkshire Dales (a part of the country we spent some lovely days hanging out within). Masham is a nice village, with a market on Wednesday, a couple good hotels, quaintness to spare, and (like any English village) plentiful pubs on every street. Maybe my favorite Masham pub was the Bay Horse, which had a great veggie Ploughman’s Lunch loaded with 7 kinds of cheese, a meal I consumed while being watched by a little dog named Hank. Oh, but back to the Pimm’s at the White Boar (I start to go tangential, like a monkey flinging through the forest, right after a vacation, cause I miss every bit of it so much). They gave us the option of having it with lemonade (which is lemon soda) or straight soda, but every glass was packed with strawberries and grapes to go with the Pimm’s and mixer, and then topped off with the traditional cucumber slices.


A delicious bubbly treat, indeed. We also had an assortment of cocktails to swoon over at the Lonsdale in London, but I’ll hit those up later in the week.

Rathbun on Film