I am a very impressionable reader. If I go anywhere near Boswell's Life of Johnson, I am ruined for weeks. Such is the power over me presently of Kingsley Amis's perversely seductive prose. I am reading Everyday Drinks, which while a model of comedic form, is almost wholly bereft of sensibility in terms of content. He had the audacity to praise Mateus Rose while poo pooing Tavel, and spurts enthusiastically about "hock" - which is what one does with a loogie, not something to be drunk. It is so dated to the 70s as to be hilarious, in its advice alone.
Prose style and taste notwithstanding, I was moved to go out and buy some gin. Not to try one of his abominable cocktail recipes, but mostly to stave off malaria. It was 104 degrees on Saturday, at graduation, in cap and gown. I went for Tanqueray, which I find not so very assertive, and more pliable to the will of its glassmates. That is, better for mixing. I have to admit, the logic of a martini has always eluded me: take one juniperish herbal booze, and mix with another heady herbal fortified wine, i.e. vermouth. Does that make any sense? What a way to crowd out all the flavors. But on this very score I have just erred. Or rather invented what I tink is a marvellous cocktail for the blistering heat. It must be dry. Drier than dry, by which I mean bitter, but also dry astringent, stiptic, dry in the humoral sense, with something of the quininic and medicinal.
Brace yourself. This is one part good neutral gin. One part campari. And 1/2 part pastis. (I am out of absinthe.) A few ice cubes. And that's it. I tried cucumber water, but it palled. These three ingredients make a slightly cloudy pink cocktail, that is at once bitter and angry and abusive, but goes down perfectly in the blaze of heat. (Went down very nicely with some 8-to-the-bar blues yesterday afternoon, with me on the guitar and Buzz-man Brett on the mouth-harp.)
What to call it? Simple enough, a micegenated concoction of English, French, and Italian parents. Meaner than a lizard. The Marco Pierre White cocktail.