Monday, January 14, 2019

Rangpur Limes, Elderberry, Juniper, and Chamomile

Ever wondered the origin of the term "Pick your poison"? Well, here you go:

"The origin is simply that since the mid-19th century "poison" has been slang for alcoholic drink (in Australia a pub was known as a "poison-shop"). This may refer to the Latin root "toxicum" (meaning "poison") of the word "intoxicate", or it may just be a reference [to] the bad effects of excessive drinking. Thus the phrases "what's your poison?" "Pick your poison" and "choose your poison" arose naturally. There is no reference to any historic incident, and no connection with Aristotle or Henry VIII, neither of whom was either poisoned, or poisoned anybody!"*

My poison of choice is gin. Unlike Vodka that is traditionally made from potatoes, but can be produced from virtually any fermentable ingredient that are filled with starch or sugar (mainly wheat, rye or corn), Rum distilled from fermented sugarcane byproducts, such as molasses, Bourbon - which is made from distilled corn, wheat and either wheat or rye, Scotch from malted barley, Irish Whiskey from both malted and unmalted barley - Gin is made from botanicals, such as juniper, coriander, citrus peel, cinnamon, almond or liquorice along with florals (Angelica archangelica, chamomile and elderflower, Rhodiola Rosea, rose petals).

The uninitiated will comment that gin tastes like "gasoline", "mouthwash", or "pine needles". Wait, have patience grasshopper. Unlike tasteless vodka, a gin is complex, floral, spicy, citrusy. 

My first gin was Beefeater. In college I was introduced to Boodles, not that I could afford it, but I enjoyed the bottle or 2 I received as gifts. Later on Bombay introduced their Blue Sapphire, which has nice citrus  and juniper notes. What I enjoy most these days is Tanqueray's Rangpur.

This unique gin is infused with Rangpur limes. Actually, a "Rangpur Lime" is not really a lime, rather a hybrid between the mandarin orange and the citron. It looks like an orange but has a strong citrus lime flavor. All this gives the gin a great lime flavor  (along with floral notes) even before one adds the tonic and slice of lime.

During our most recent annual "Girls trip to New York", we found ourselves spending most of a miserable cold rainy afternoon in an Irish pub. When you put 3 southern women at the bar in a New York Irish pub, things get very interesting. But, I digress. 

An hour or so into the afternoon, I noticed this blue barrel shaped bottle among the other bottles of gin. I inquired of Mike, our friendly bartender, what it was. He brought the bottle over - Gunpowder Irish Gin. Never heard of it. Irish gin? (But then what else would one expect in a true Irish pub?) Always willing to venture out, I ordered a Gunpowder G&T. The anise and berry notes along with a light lemon background are mixed with aromatic florals.  Wow!

I am not encouraging alcohol consumption by any means. Consuming alcoholic beverages should be more than just intoxication. It should be serious, responsible, and enjoyable. You can enjoy a good small batch Bourbon, savor a good peaty Scotch, sip an Irish Whiskey, or whatever one does with Vodka. Or you can appreciate the complex subtleties of a fine gin - just saying.

As a side note, a G&T was the Queen Mum's adult beverage of choice - the underlying basis of her 'Big Red Bus' quote - and she lived to be a 101.

* Quoted from The Phrase Finder.

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