Tuesday, September 24, 2019

One Exciting Night with I Capture The Castle

The drinks I remember from Dodie Smith's "I Capture the Castle' are sticky liqueurs illicitly consumed in the village pub, but when I came across the One Exciting Night cocktail in the Savoy book it felt just about right - the sort of drink that Simon might order for Rose knowing that she isn't quite as sophisticated as she'd like to think.

It's basically a Perfect Cocktail (equal parts gin, Italian, and French Vermouth) but with a dash of orange juice added, the edge of the glass frosted in sugar, and a squeeze of lemon peel on top. The Savoy version also specifies Plymouth gin which has an earthier character than London dry.

If there's one thing guaranteed to set up the back of your wine merchant it's an airy declaration along the lines of 'I don't like French wine' (even worse when you spend a good quarter of an hour suggesting options for the French wine hater - who has almost certainly dismissed a couple of Chardonnays out of hand at this point - they say they want a Chablis. At the risk of revealing how pedantic I can be I'm entirely happy with people saying they haven't found a French wine they like...

The difference is an open mind. The Savoy Cocktail Book has taught me a few things, but perhaps the most important is the difference a few small tweaks can make. Strong, dry, drinks are an acquired taste - I didn't much like the first, very dry, Martini I drank, and I still prefer them with a higher ratio of vermouth than is perhaps fashionable. I love a Gin & It for the mellowing effect of spicy sweet red Vermouth on the gin.

One Exciting Night takes that sweetness a step further by sugaring the rim of the glass - which also looks pretty. I'm thinking of it as a beginners Martini, and there's nothing derogatory about that. It's a reminder that drinks should be fun, not an endurance test.


  1. This one sounds perfect, for the novel, and especially for Rose who would, I think, be very impressed by the look of the thing - the sugared rim would be the clincher. And she would feel very grown-up, and very sophisticated. Surprisingly, I know about Plymouth gin - I've been round the distillery, and got to taste ordinary gin and sloe gin, which was wonderful!

    1. It's great gin! I think Rose would like this too, and there are a few other contenders - the Savoy Cocktail Book is possibly my most used work of reference!

  2. While in France recently I bought a bottle (or 2) of Number Zero gin, a Spanish made gin, with amongst other botanicals, lavender is included. I enjoyed it with tonic - the only tonic stocked in the local supermarkets is Schweppes, and it's not too bad with dry vermouth. I regularly drink a gin (usually Tanquary or Bombay Sapphire) with red vermouth while preparing supper. I have to say that finding a gin of 40 per cent in rural France is hard work; there are shelves of whisky and vodka, some of cognac, but usually only a very few bottles of gin, usually Gordon's at 35%.

  3. The Spanish love their gin tonic so that makes sense. The cultural differences in drinking preferences also really interest me - it's the little things like the differences in supermarket shelves that really underline cultural differences and expectations between countries. The gin and it is the perfect pre dinner drink!