And this time it's all about gin. I really enjoyed trying to match drinks to books last December and had been thinking about doing something along the same lines for a while. My summer drink of choice is gin, and when I started making a list of gins I've known and gins I love it was more than long enough to fill a month so here we are...
Wines and spirits (the selling of) is my day job, and will have been so for 17 years this week. In that time the rise and rise of gin has been easily the most exciting thing I've seen, in the last few years I've started to amass enough of the stuff to make my wardrobe (it's where I keep the bottles - it's dark and has the steadiest temperature in a flat that gets very hot in summer) stop resembling a tiny cellar, and instead look like a particularly cramped speak easy.
The reason for this is that I might buy quite a bit of gin, but I don't drink much, so it hangs around. It's one reason to love spirits - a good wine has to be finished within a day or two to be at its best, but spirits don't and if you're only going to have a glass or two a week I feel there's room for a certain amount of extravagance regarding choice.
The first gin is an American one, bought simply because I hadn't tried any at the time and it was the most glamorous looking bottle I found locally (the glamour matters!). Named for a Cocktail first officially recorded in 1916 Aviation is the least ginny gin I've yet tasted (the juniper is, in my opinion, very restrained). It also seems to be a gin that divides people somewhat. I liked it for its smoothness - it's a gin that could easily be sipped on its own in an exceptionally dry martini, would blend beautifully into cocktails, and gives some scope to playing around with garnishes.
In contemporary terms it's a gin that was made with the specific intention of moving away from the classic juniper led English take on the spirit and as such is part of something new and exciting... But there's something about that not very traditional palate which suggests a refined take on what I imagine prohibition era gin might have been.
There's an element of fantasy to that of course, bathtub gin certainly wasn't smooth, never mind as smooth and complex as this one, but it's the image in my mind and in turn that suggests John O'Hara (who I think has a bit more sympathy for his alcoholics than John Cheever does). BUtterfield 8 which traces a tragedy as it unfolds against the speakeasy's of prohibition era New York seems like just the book for this gin.