Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Gordon's Gin with Gin and Murder

Much as I love an exciting new gin - something with a smart label in a pretty bottle, with an option on an amusing name, excellent artisanal credentials, and a price tag to match - I'm not a snob about it.

I am a snob about tonic water, I loathe diet versions, and have no truck with supermarket brands. Schweppes if you must, Fever Tree for preference (they have an increasing range of flavours which makes things interesting). A good tonic, plenty of ice, and a wedge of lime, should make any but a truly awful gin taste pretty damn good, and who am I to judge someone else's gin preference (tonic yes, gin no). Never cut corners when it comes to mixers.

Some people do get sniffy about Gordon's, but (and I know I've said this before) for anyone much over 30, and for quite a lot under, Gordon's will likely have been the first gin you met. To me it's the benchmark, and yes it might not be particularly exciting, and it's definitely a shame the abv was lowered to 37.5%. Also, no, I don't have a bottle around the place - but I'd never turn my nose up at it elsewhere.

It's a gin with history (around 225 years of it) and I find that green bottle iconic. It's the gin that I associate as much with the dark days when it was considered a drink fit only for golf clubs and old ladies, as I do the Jazz age, or even the lost (if tawdry) glamour of the great Victorian gin palaces.

Josephine Pullein -Thompson's 'Gin and Murder' is a fascinating book. (Annoyingly I've lost my copy, as soon as I've written this I need to bite the bullet and order another one from Greyladies books). Admittedly it feels in questionable taste to recommend a book that centres around an alcoholic to read with gin - truthfully you might feel more inclined to have a cup of tea instead by the end of the first chapter - but it's no bad thing to be reminded of why drinking to much is such a bad idea. It's also such a very good title that it's hard to resist.

I could almost here the bottles of Gordon's clinking together when I read this one. It's a good murder mystery (clever solution to a chilling scenario) but it's really remarkable as a portrait of a certain moment and class in English society. It's an upper middle class hunting set sometime in the late 1950's. They all drink a bit to much, all are recognisable types, most are struggling to maintain appearances and it's all done with an amount of compassion and sympathy that makes the book memorable. Should you be lucky enough to find a cheap copy grab it, all I can say is that it appealed to me so much I'm willing to spend another £13 on a replacement copy.


  1. Gordon's was the first gin I ever had. It was what my grandmother drank(!) (To give you context: she was born in 1907.)

    I've never heard of Josephine Pullein but Gin and Murder sounds like a great book. I've added it to my TBR list. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

  2. I love that link with the past, G&T became my drink of choice when I first went to a pub, had no idea what to order, so ordered what my mother drank (not maybe the coolest choice, but I don't doubt it was better than the mix of cider and black current my peers were downing).

    Josephine Pullein-Thimpson was better known for horsey books for children but 'Gin and Murder' is a particularly good mystery for grown ups, if quite a sad one.