The official drink of the group who gets together to watch Project Runway is not cosmos even though Barbara and I are the charter members. It’s gin and tonics, because one really hot night a few summers ago when Barbara came over to watch the premier of the third season, even though it conflicted with Lost. Having a cool cocktail seemed like the thing to do. I filled up a 16-ounce glass with ice, tonic, added a short shot of gin and a slice of lime and called that a gin and tonic, though it was really gin-flavored tonic, which seemed appropriate for a weeknight when there was work or 6 a.m. swimming practice the next day.
Before too long, the P-Run group had grown to include Barbara M., another Mary S. plus Sue and Carol. (I always say we need a Linda and Debbie to round out our “born in the 50s” names.) The big-gulp-sized gin and tonics were a big hit. We did taste tests with three different tonics (Schweppes won, with Seagram’s second and Canada Dry last) and later added diet tonic to the menu. As for gin, sometimes the bottle is green, sometimes it’s clear, sometimes it’s clear plastic. We don’t really care.
But we must have limes. If whoever is hosting doesn’t have limes, a panicked email goes out requesting that someone bring one. The result is an abundance of limes, because everyone brings one or two rather than risk doing without. If we didn’t have limes, I don’t think we’d bother with gin and tonics.
Which leads me to Little Bee, by Chris Cleave.* One of the characters is a bit of lush whose drink is gin and tonic with lemon. Lemon? At first I thought it must be a misprint. Bad editing. Then I thought maybe the preference for lemon was an idiosyncrasy of this one British character that would horrify the rest of the people in a country known for their love of gin and tonics.
So I checked and found this in a London newspaper blog: “Only lemon properly complements a gin and tonic.”
That’s the headline of a post at the Telegraph’s site by Gerald Warner, a “author, broadcaster, columnist and polemical commentator who writes about politics, religion, history, culture and society in general.” An excerpt:
“Gin and tonic with a slice of lime, sir? Leave it out! And I really do mean, leave it out. Of all the proliferating evidence that the world has gone to the demnition bow-wows, the most incontrovertible is the pervasive practice of poisoning gin and tonic with slices of lime. Ugh. Is nothing sacred? A proper gin and tonic is served with a slice of LEMON.”**
He goes on to point out that an enforced consumption of lime juice provoked mutiny on the “Bounty,” and says one can see Fletcher Christian’s point.
The letters to the editor about the post are heavily pro-lime, but that could be because the smug pro-lemon contingent finds addressing the issue as distasteful as the lime itself. There is plenty to read in support of both sides, and while I’m inclined to stay with limes, you never know.
P-Run ladies, another taste test is in order. When does season 9 start?
*I loved Little Bee until the end, which was also true of the book I read before it, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, and after, One Day. Three in a row where my enthusiasm lasted until the very last pages. For Edgar Sawtelle, that was my own fault – the book has themes out of Hamlet, how did I think it was going to end? – but for the other two I hold the authors responsible.
**“The world has gone to the demnition bow-wows” is apparently a quote from Charles Dickens, who used the word “demnition” a lot. I’ve never heard it before, and it took me a while to find a definition. It means “hot.” The one source I finally found says it’s American, which makes me wonder how the dickens Dickens knew it and I did not.