They say you can tell a lot about a person by what they drink. I’m a gin girl. I don’t know what you can tell about me from that fact, except that I have a weakness for juniper berries in booze form; but if given a choice, I’ll always choose the gin. As I’ve gotten older, my tastes in most things have changed and matured, and I think my gin evolution might be the most telling.
Childhood: My dad has always been a martini drinker. I could order his drink from memory probably by age 8. Beefeater martini, straight up, bone dry, olives. At some point, maybe around when I was in high school, he switched garnish to a lemon wedge or a twist. It sort of messed with my world view for a while, but I got over it. I used to love when I got to eat an olive from the martini (although, in retrospect, I’m pretty sure that most of the time, the olive was straight from the jar and I was none the wiser). So my first gin, you could say, was Beefeater. Just the look of the bottle, the smell of the martini, these are things that evoke all sorts of sensory memory for me. I tried a martini my dad’s way a few years ago, as an adult, and Beefeater is a little too sharp for me. But I’ll always have a place for it in my heart and my booze-filled memory.
College: I wasn’t really a drinker in high school, to be honest, so the next stage of my love affair with gin was in college. And if gin and I were having any kind of relationship, when I was in college, it was definitely abusive. On both sides. Like most college students, I didn’t have much money, so there were a lot of well gin and tonics during those years. Lots of no-name gin, lots of post-sip full body shudders. The good thing about me and gin in college was that, honestly, what college kid drinks gin? Not many, so no one really ever stole my booze. That was the only redeeming quality found in a bottle of Gordon’s. (Seriously, I just typed “Gordon’s,” and I involuntarily twitched.)
Post-college: My first real job! I have (some) money! That’s what I call the Tanqueray stage. Now, Tanqueray isn’t terrible. It’s actually quite palatable, especially in a mixed drink. Every bar carries it, even the really crappy ones, and “Tanqueray and tonic” just kind of rolls off the tongue in an easy, clearly enunciated way. The trouble with Tanqueray is that, for the money, you could be drinking a much better gin. So I evolved.
I’m a grown-up!: I got a little more money, started going to somewhat fancier bars, surrounded by men in shiny Italian suits and forty year old women who dress like they’re twenty and wear absurdly gaudy jewelry like they’re sixty. And these people all ordered Bombay Sapphire in their drinks. So I gave it a shot. Hmm, these rich assholes were on to something. Bombay is pretty smooth, but still has a little bit of a bite to it. You can taste it through tonic or soda, and it stands alone very well in a martini. (Like my dad, I cannot bear the evil of vermouth sullying my gin, so when I say “martini,” I mean “chilled gin in a martini glass.” With olives. Sorry, Dad. Old habits die hard.) Sapphire has a downside, though. Did I mention the shiny suits and gaudy jewelry? Frankly, I’m usually embarrassed to order it in a bar, because I feel like the bartender is going to think I’m an asshole. Which I am, but I tip well, and I try really hard not to be a dick to service people, and I feel like ordering Sapphire just lights up a neon “ASSHOLE” sign above my head. Sorry, Sapphire. It’s not you, it’s me.
True adulthood: Now I’m older. I try not to throw money away on cheap booze. (Box wine aside. You can pry the box wine from my cold, drunk, drinking-from-the-plastic-spigot hands.) I can honestly say my life changed the first time I had Hendrick’s. I remember it. Early on a summer evening, at the outdoor bar down the street. The bartender was a friendly acquaintance. He would always have our drinks ready as we walked onto the deck. Until the day he told me I should try something. My first sip of Hendrick’s was in a plastic cup (oh, silly laws prohibiting glass outdoors). It was, quite frankly, perfect. I have since learned that it gets its flavor from rose petals and cucumbers and that makes it sound like it was handcrafted in some magical realm by elves, but really, it’s made in Scotland, like all good booze and people. I have a bottle of Hendrick’s in my house at all times, and sometimes I take it out and just gaze lovingly at it for a while. Even though the past 800 words or so would lead you to believe otherwise, I rarely drink. I drink way less than almost everyone I know. Because I want to love what I’m drinking, and I want it to be worth it. Take my word for it, people. It’s so worth it.
This post brought to you by two strong Hendrick’s and tonics in my brand new Crate and Barrel rocks glasses. I have not been compensated in any way by any of the aforementioned brands. But seriously, Hendrick’s, call me. We can work something out.