Gin Week: In Praise of the Better Clear Spirit

Gin, a liquor superior to vodka in nearly every way, is due for a renaissance. It tastes better straight, it makes a classier martini, and it even mixes better with Red Bull. So why does vodka, an all but flavorless liquor, get all the attention? I can only guess it has to do with marketing.

I thought of this as I read one of John D. MacDonald’s excellent Travis McGee crime novels. McGee, a part-time beach bum who lives on a house boat in Fort Lauderdale, drinks Plymouth Gin, usually on the rocks without a mixer (until the 16th of the 21-book series: the character complained that the formula changed when the company began bottling it in the U.S. I wrote about it here).

And then I found this great article in praise of gin at The Atlantic Monthly’s website. “So why don’t more people drink straight gin?” writes Clay Risen. “Partly because they know what bad gin tastes like by itself.” He continues:

“Although bottom-shelf vodka or whiskey is still basically palatable, rail gin is completely undrinkable. Usually the flavor begins and ends with low-quality juniper, which, to me at least, is nauseatingly bitter. And frankly, I find even the medium-grade London dry gins—what most people talk about when they talk about gin—basically undrinkable.”

One of the comments even invokes Travis McGee and Plymouth Gin. “I have been drinking straight gin for years, mainly Plymouth, as an act of homage to one of my favorite fictional characters, Travis McGee,” wrote David. I too, tried Plymouth because of the Travis McGee books. I like it because it’s smoother than others, and the juniper is subtle.

I’d also like to echo another commenter in endorsement of Old Tom Gin, which is a type different from London Dry or Dutch/Jenever. It’s sweeter than others. I had the pleasure of trying Ransom’s Old Tom Gin as the base for a Bijou cocktail (gin, vermouth and Chartreuse—more on that in a later post) at a bar in Brooklyn.

So will gin get its propers? The cynic in me says, yes: once the drinking public tires of premium vodka. In the meantime, I’ll be sipping gin on ice.

Oh, and one more thing: rumor has it Oliver Stone is working on a movie version of the first Travis McGee novel, The Deep Blue Good-By, with Leonardo Di Caprio as McGee.

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One Response to Gin Week: In Praise of the Better Clear Spirit

  1. Pingback: Gin Week: Ransom’s Old Tom Gin |

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