I was in London, doing the kind of things you do in London, which inevitably includes a certain amount of eating and drinking. Some Colchester oysters were consumed at Bibendum:
And a Fortnum and Mason pork pie was eaten:
This was the kind of pie that can put a man into a porcine-induced fugue state. It’s not just the pork or the pastry or the jelly, it’s the combination, the alchemy of all three working together. Don’t try getting one through customs back to the USA, however. Long story.
On the booze front, it seems that London has gone gin crazy. There are gin bars and gin clubs, artisanal and bespoke gin distilleries, gin parlours, all of which sell pretty good gin, some more “crafted” than others of course, and they serve it sometimes just with tonic, but also in cocktails and sometimes even in “ginfusions.” And hereby hangs a tale. Fact is, something gin-based happened to me in London and I may never be the same again.
I found myself in Walthamstow (yes, the Stow) in a place that calls itself Mother’s Ruin Gin Palace, a name that may raise expectations it can’t ever live up to. You might imagine something like this (which is actually the Princess Louise in Holborn):
When in fact Mother’s Ruin is a smallish industrial building that apparently used to be a munitions factory that looks like this:
They specialize in fruit liqueurs, which they make themselves, damson and sloe gin, rhubarb and raspberry vodka, and so on. But when a man’s in a gin palace he tends to want his gin pretty well unadulterated, or I do anyway, and so martinis were called for, first a basic Mother’s Dry Martini, made with Plymouth gin:
And then a Rangpur Lime Martini (and yes that is a sloe gin concoction lurking in the background):
The above martini is made with Tanqueray Rangpur gin, which according to the Tanqueray website contains “the rare Rangpur lime” which can’t be as rare as all that since it can be grown, at least in California, as a house plant, and looks like this:
But here’s the OMG part. I watched the martinis being made in Mother's Ruin Gin Palace, and at first I thought the bartender was doing it all wrong. He put room temperature gin and vermouth into an empty mixing glass, not a shaker, and only then added the ice. And then there was the stirring, a shedload of stirring.
And of course I’m familiar with the notion that you shouldn’t shake a martini because it bruises the gin, but I had always thought this was phooey, and that gin is perfectly robust enough not to bruise easily (or at all). The stirring went on and on, and I assumed that when the drink arrived it’d be weak and watery, but you know IT WASN’T!! Both my martinis had a softness and a rounded off quality to them that was very different from the aggressiveness that affects some shaken martinis.
And you know it may have been the night, or my mood, or the good company, but hell, I suddenly thought there might be something in this stirred not shaken business. Blimey. Maybe I’ve been wrong all these years. More research required obviously, but I do suspect that some gin-based Rubicon may have been crossed. Blimey indeed.