Fashionable Drinking? I’ll have a Whisky and Crimplene, please.
I never knew drinks had to be fashionable. Pardon me, but I thought a drink was simply a liquid beverage intended for human consumption which has a basic function of satisfying thirst. How very ignorant of me. I hadn’t realised that I would have to supply my mug of Tetley’s with the latest designer handbag or that my Screaming Orgasm is out of vogue and I should be opting for a Long Slow Screw instead. Incidentally, they’re cocktails. Honestly.
Anyway, enough sex. Hang on, can you ever get enough sex? No, but that’s another blog entirely – back to being fashionable. I’m not. Fashionable, that is. I’m not bothered if you are dressed in head to toe couture or crimplene. I couldn’t give a rats arse if you’re dressed in Armarni or Primarni. You could be a dag, or a dandy; a trendsetter or a transvestite. I simply do not care enough about the label inside your knickers to worry about whether your hems are handstitched or if you’re wearing batwings or bin bags.
A Long Time Ago I did; and don’t forget, I am an Old Person. Yes, that’s right. I’ve made that terrible faux pas of being over 21 and therefore, I suppose, in a fashion sense, I am a square because I don’t care about the latest trends, the fads, the collections. I’m not aware of a New Look, or the Old Look or any other aspect of what you wear on your back. However, in the Olden Days when I was a lot younger, I was something of a fashion victim. Mock me if you will, but I once owned a Puff Ball skirt and wore it relentlessly despite the fact that it made me look like the Michelin Man. And I was on the right side of size 10. Puff Balls skirts were definitely only made for skinny women, yet fat birds used to insist on wearing them. They’d somehow force themselves through the double doors of the local pub and stand around waving globules of fat covered in pale pink taffeta. It was like going out for a drink with an Australian blobfish. Sometimes I wore my leg warmers with my Puff Ball skirt. So not only did I look like the Michelin Man, but I also looked like a Michelin Man whose tyres had melted on the bottom half of her legs which now resembled two crinkle cut chips. So yes, having done the fashion thing during my formative years, I have no desire to resemble a bloke made out of tyres, an Australian aquatic animal or something which came with a burger at the local café.
So therefore, imagine my chagrin when I discovered that fashion trends have invaded the local hostelry and that now, certain drinks are distinctly passé and I should have stopped drinking them in 1997. When did lager and blackcurrant stop being acceptable for Gods’ sake?
Take Gin. I wish you would. I hate the stuff, but fairly recently ‘Mother’s Ruin’ – the stuff you are supposed to drink in a hot bath if you want to abort the child you are carrying – has become trendy. All of a sudden Gin Bars have started popping up on the high street in most towns, and men more at home with a pint of Old Peculiar in their hands have abandoned the grain for the berry and can be seen sipping from a large glass not unlike a fishbowl in size and filled with the best part of their five a day fruit ration as well as a spot of Gin. Do they put all that fruit in there to hide the taste of the Gin, I wonder? To me, it isn’t a nice taste, but then, when you think about it, I’m not very fashionable and on occasion I have actually wore clothes, in public, considered not only Last Season, but Last Millennium.
What has made the humble juniper berry so popular though? Twenty years ago it was an considered an ‘old’ drink, something for the Margot’s and the Gerry’s of ‘The Good Life’ to partake of before dinner, not for some young twenty something trendsetter to imbibe on a night out without being ridiculed for being so unfashionable they resembled, well, me.
Gin is old, though. It’s origins can be traced as far back as a medicinal herbal remedy in the Middle Ages, to its’ early commercial production in or around the early 1600’s. So far from being a ‘young’ drink, it’s been around a long time. Its’ original form was Genever – a drink imbibed in 1585, during the Eighty Years War, by Dutch and English soldiers going into battle because of its calming effect – giving rise to the term ‘Dutch Courage’ and so the English were introduced to the trend of Gin drinking by the Dutch.
One of the reasons it’s so popular with bar owners, who are knocking up Gin Palaces and Bars everywhere nowadays is the fact that it can be brought to market relatively quickly when compared to whiskies and wines, which have to age for longer. This is how the Gin market has risen so swiftly in recent years, combined with the fact that it is quite a versatile base for a cocktail, and can be produced to reflect localised tastes. When all else fails, you can dump in some tonic, add some lemon and lime leaving the rest of the fruit bowl intact and you’ve got a sparkly new fashion drink on your hands.
However, like my Last Millennium clothes, fashion is very shallow, and trends change almost as often as the New Look becomes the Old Look, and just lately, there seems to be a trend developing on the high street for Whisky to be nudging it’s way into the Gin bars, which true to their fickle roots, are jumping on the next bandwagon where they see there is a spike in demand for malt Whisky.
Whisky I’m at home with. That’s my drink, whether I’m fashionable or not. There’s something about Whisky – it’s timelessness transcends changing fashions and whether it is or is not the drink of the moment, slowly sipping a dram of an aged, peaty malt – savouring the gentle and subtle changes to the taste – first a vanilla like burst in the mouth, giving way to a stronger, smoky essence – well, to me, it’s like drinking a bit of history. When was it distilled? How long did it lay in its’ oak, sherry lined cask? One of my favourite whiskies is only distilled using Oloroso soaked casks – giving a consistency to the flavour. Whereas Gin is just Gin, Whisky can be a myriad of delicious flavours and aromas.
So call me Old Fashioned – a whisky based cocktail, by the way – but if you want me, you’ll find me at the back of Berry and Rye (48 Berry Street, Liverpool L1 4JQ) a wonderfully atmospheric little speakeasy in Liverpool city centre, drinking whisky probably dressed in that puff ball skirt with an Australian blobfish for company.
©Amy J Steinberg 2018