One of the people for whom I am filled with admiration and who was a real inspiration to me in 2012 was Samantha Linsell. Her blog, peopled with her stunning photographs, led her to conceive, write, photograph her first book, and one of South Africa’s earliest do-it-yourself cookbooks – Drizzle & Dip, and it is a gem. One of the things we share in common is that we both come from families who were more than partial to gin and tonic. My mother was a great committee woman and to get work done at lunch time, she would dip the rim of the glass in gin and fill it with ice and tonic so that her fellow committee members got on with the business at hand! Our house was one where there was always more ice than required to sink the Titanic and the old Cape rough skinned lemons completed the picture. My grandfather loved a pink gin at lunchtime and when he passed on they had to shut down the wing of the gin factory, sell off about six delivery trucks and lay off 100 staff members.
But back to the Gin. And it really is all about the gin.
I stayed often with a friend in London, who owned Purdey’s the Gunmakers, godfather to my daughter Amy. We would on occasion darken the hallowed doors of Berry Bros & Rudd, at No 3 St James’s St, when his cellar needed a bit of topping up. The 17th Century Napoleon Cellar was always a treat to visit.
We would taste and decide which white Burgundies and red Bordeaux we would take home with us in the taxi. And of course, always a couple of bottles of The King’s Ginger to make the ‘Ginger Macs’ for after dinner, mixed half and half with the Glenrothers, BBR’s Speyside Single Malt Whisky and poured over blocks of clear ice.
But back to the Gin. And this piece really is all about the gin.
Included in the boozy shipment always were a couple of bottles of Berry Bros & Rudd Good Ordinary Gin.
And now the really good news is that Berry Bros & Rudd No 3 Gin – their premium product – is available here. No3, after No 3 St James’s Street and for the three fruit ‘botanicals’ and the three spice ‘botanicals’ used by the family owned distillery in Holland, the true home of gin. Hollandse Jenewer, they’ve been distilling for over 300 years. The three fruits are Italian Juniper, from whence gin gets its name, which gives gin its unmistakable ‘gin taste’ of pine and lavender. The peel of sweet Spanish oranges adds fresh clean, crisp citrus, and grapefruit peel one of my best memories of a good gin. The spice ‘botanicals’ are Angelica root, a relation of Parsley which adds a lovely earthiness and contributes towards making the gin dry. In the distilling process, Moroccan coriander seed releases an undertow of lemon and adds a spicy, slightly peppery finish to this well-made gin. Cardamoms add sensual spicy warming aromatics.
I keep trying to get back to the gin! I was taught very early on by my father how to make a good gin and tonic – they liked their G&Ts ‘ice cold and tinkly’. The gin bottle was always kept in the fridge and it had, immersed in it, the peel of a whole lemon, in one piece. You take an old fashioned glass and put too much ice into it. Now pour a healthy sploosh of gin into it, at least 50ml. Then tilting the glass to the side, dribble the ice cold tonic over the ice and gin to top up the glass. A slice of lemon on top which you then push gently down a couple of times to mix the gin and the tonic, but gently, you need to keep the fizz.
And that’s about it. The Hugo Olivier G & T.