Gin, how I love you, let me count the ways…

I don’t remember my first sip of gin. There is, however, a crystal clear memory of my favourite gin drinking moment and the beginning of my love affair with distilled botanicals in a spirit base.

I was 21. The mother of my then boyfriend took me to lunch for my birthday. I was about the start my Honours year. We went to a restaurant on the North Shore of Sydney. It was just the two of us and it was rather a treat. I was, at the time, a starving student and so lunch out was a luxury. Liz ordered two gin and tonics.

I was sort of momentarily shocked. In the daytime?

It was glorious.

Martini ~ extra dry ~ if you please

My drinking experiences to that point had been fairly innocuous. I had developed a taste for very sub-standard forms of alcohol; which I now wouldn’t touch with the proverbial barge-pole! After this birthday lunch, I was set. Gin and tonic was my drink of choice for all occasions. My gin obsession was largely enabled by Liz, she knew! My mother, was no help, she was the thimble of gin in a tumbler of tonic water kind of girl. Liz however knew what to do. Full whack of gin and easy on the tonic.

My affair grew and grew in its affections. I eventually graduated to martinis, but it did take a while, I was a student for a long, long time. I do remember another birthday, a few years later, when I was in possession of an income, where after one too many martinis at the Mars Lounge, I was rescued by one of my dear friends who didn’t like the way I was weaving in and out of four lanes of traffic in Wentworth Avenue. I awoke the next day to her seven year old twins, peeking around the corner of the living room hissing ‘MUM, there is someone in the living room!’ Later, her soon to be ex-husband, stumbled out and made me a coffee. Never again have I drunk 5 martinis in one night. Never!

None of these experiences put me off. Not one. I return time and time again to gin and its comforting, reassuring pleasures. Only in the past five years have I refined my martini drinking to the point where I own all the accoutrements to make them at home. What bliss! I now own a selection of glassware and the necessary equipment. I can make martinis anytime time I like and frequently do; responsibilities of family life notwithstanding, and sometimes, not taken into consideration.

I’ve drunk gin in Manhattan – where the service is excellent and the pour l-o-n-g. I’ve had martinis in many of Sydney’s fine hotels and some of the less fine but proximate locations to where I was at the actual time. I drank gin and tonics in London, but only in deference to my mother, who was with me. I have not yet had a martini I couldn’t drink, although one at Mint Bar in Canberra, with an oily scum on the surface from olives in oil, not brine, prepared by a young and inexperienced barkeep, did give me pause – but only long enough to decide I would drink it first and complain later! It contained gin, after all.

I can only say from this perspective, that my adult life long obsession has a fairly long way to go. I fully intend to be mixing cocktails of all kinds, not only martinis until I am a very very very old lady, with a healthy disrespect of those killjoys in the medical profession and authority of all kinds. While I have waxed lyrical about Moscow Mules and gin cocktails alike, I will like Dorothy Parker, continue to drink to make other people more interesting, well into my old age. And that drink is likely as not, liable to be gin based.

As my mother has reminded me in 2000 after a memorable work lunch left me with somewhat less than perfect recall of telephone calls I received during it, I come from a long line of boozers. It’s not like I am going to quit now!