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Saturday, December 5, 2009

Bathtub gin anyone? Gin cocktails for Repeal Day

December 5, 1933: sunrise in America as Prohibition comes to an end, freedom and enlightenment return, and honest people can once again legally drink cocktails. To celebrate Repeal Day, here is a short list of gin cocktails to tickle your taste-buds. Several gin cocktails will be shaken (or stirred) at my house tonight. In case you’re wondering. Gin was selected as a nod to the memory of the bad “bathtub gin” that people had to drink during the dark years of the twenties.

Let’s start with one that’s almost straight gin, albeit on the rocks. Plymouth® is a brand name for a distinctive type of gin. Although you can use London Dry gin, Plymouth gin makes a great Pink Gin, so give it a try. All you need is gin, bitters, and ice.

The Gin and Tonic is another classic gin cocktail that you’re probably familiar with, and it’s not just for summer, either. I had my first Gin and Tonic back in my early twenties and thought it was just OK, never realizing that the problem was the gin. Quality gin, which wasn’t available during Prohibition, is the key to a good Gin and Tonic. I like to use Bombay Sapphire®; sip it slowly and savor the flavor.

During Prohibition, most people didn’t have access to quality cocktail ingredients imported from Europe like Lillet® Blanc, Campari®, and vermouth. The imported liquors they were able to obtain were mostly bootlegged whiskey and rum smuggled into the country from Canada (like Canadian Club®). Their grandchildren are much better off, so let’s have a Martini, a Vesper Martini that is. Gin, vodka, Lillet, and bitters (optional) are all you need to enjoy James Bond’s favorite drink.

The third recommendation is the Twelve Squared, a cocktail containing 144 Botanicals in a single cocktail. For this tasty beauty, you’ll need Lillet Blanc and a bottle of Green Chartreuse®, but the investment you make in these ingredients will pay off in future enjoyment.

If you’re in the mood for something not quite as strong as these gin intensive cocktails, try a French 75 – a reliable champagne (and gin) cocktail that is just what you need. Named after the famous French cannon of World War I, this little beauty has a nice kick and never misfires.

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