I learned to drink from four people: my parents and two college fiends, Bill and Mariella. I say that I learned to drink from them because upon reflection, I am frequently impressed at the gems of booze-related insight that I have taken from these four. One evening, while over at Bill and Mariella’s place, the drink on offer was Gordon’s Gin in the one gallon plastic easy pour bottle. I sniffed: “Gordon’s is some pretty bad stuff.” Bill remonstrated with glee, “Bad gin? What are you talking about? They don’t make bad gin.” This is one of those peaces of alky wisdom that I have carried with me since.
But while they don’t make bad gin, not all gin is equal. And so at the beginning of May the New York Times ran a review of gins (Asimov, Eric, “No, Really, It Was Tough: 4 People, 80 Martinis,” 2 May 2007), and despite my concern that the over-excited pretension of a New York Times food review might sour one of my affections, I pressed on and found the article interesting and useful. Unfortunately the useful went catastrophically awry.
I have been in something of a gin doldrum lately. I now blame this on the fact that I have stuck too loyally with Bombay Sapphire. While a complex and flavorful gin, it is also powerful, sharp and nearly overcome by its alcohol. It’s great for a gin and tonic, too busy to blend well in a martini and I have recoiled from it on the rocks. With the New York Times article marked up and in hand I stopped in my neighborhood liquor store looking for what the tasting panel selected as their number one, Plymouth English Gin.
I have to say, I have been amazed at how good the Plymouth is. It really is a perfect, well balanced gin with the canonical amount of juniper. I can’t remember the last time I polished off a bottle of liquor so quickly — no, really, I can’t remember. A week later I was back for another bottle — in college I could have dusted it in a night or two, but I’m not so resilient or stupid anymore. At the end of week two I was back for a third bottle. This time the clerk told me that he only had two left and couldn’t get any more. It turns out that I am not the only person who reads the New York Times and distilling a gin isn’t something that can be done over night. There had been a run on Plymouth and the distillery was rushing to catch up. I took two and the next day at lunch went to the liquor store near my office and snapped up a few more for a store to carry me through the lean season.
My supply was dwindling and I was beginning to get nervous and eye the shallow gin row every time I opened the liquor cabinet and ration my intake. This week I stopped by previously mentioned neighborhood liquor store to pick up a bottle of wine to accompany the dinner-directed bag of groceries in hand. While being rung up I got a premonition and circled back to the end of the counter where the gins are massed and there was a suspicious looking familiar bottle. “What is that square bottle right there?” I inquired. Despite this being my favorite liquor store, the clerk is constantly trying to push me into the popular brand names and refuses to learn that I am always on the prowl for the Plymouth now. He gave it a half turn. “Oh, we just got in a new shipment of the Plymouth.” Saved! Confident that the drought was past I availed myself of only one.