Is a Sir Francis Drake gimlet the solution to empty nest syndrome?
Empty nest syndrome, is it even a thing? And how do you deal with your strangely altered nest now the flock has flown and you sit bereft and disorientated like two turtle doves? Since veggie teen left for University, we’ve been getting used to doing things for two. Without even discussing it we’ve made a point of making sure we spend regular time together. One new routine, in our emptier house is to curl up on the sofas (KP, me and the dog) and catch up on a bit of telly a few nights a week. Poldark is shaping up nicely and while the plot is rather over-simplified and the acting a bit predictable, the costumes, sets, landscape and the smouldering Aiden Turner all look rather gorgeous. In this week’s episode the villagers down on the Cornish coast were all suffering from scurvy due to lack of vitamin C, until a generous (and beautiful) benefactor gave them a few crates of oranges.
The original gimlet cocktail was a tot of Navy ration gin with some lime cordial to prevent the sailors from being afflicted with the same disease.
While modern interpretations can include fresh lime juice, you can make a gimlet very easily by stirring together 50ml of gin, 10ml of lime cordial with lots of ice, then straining it into a coupe glass. Alternatively a 1928 description of the drink was: “gin, a spot of lime, and soda.”
Denzel, my bartender cocktail mentor, has devised rather cunning, if slightly more complicated, variation of a gimlet for this month. I challenge your mouth not to water as you read the description; it’s refreshing, sour with a touch of spice. The flavours are exotic, like the places the sailors might have visited, and contains plenty of scurvy-preventing fruit plus an aromatic herbal concoction that will make you feel like an alchemist of old.
So I can sit on my sofa sipping one of these, pretending to be Elizabeth Chenoweth or Caroline Penvenen in a gown and petticoats, glancing at swarthy KP quaffing a cider. Scurvy is prevented, the nest seems cosy, all is well. I’m not suggesting that turning to drink is the answer to missing your loved ones. Treating to yourself to something special and hanging out with your partner helps though.
Good health and sea-faring
Denzel’s inspiration for this months’ gin cocktail had roots in sea-faring and getting back to the land. The Caorunn gin he recommends is made with hand-foraged botanicals from rowanberries to blackthorn. As well as the aforemention navy gin rations, ginger beer originated in England in the 1700’s and was a fermented alcoholic beverage. Ginger beer even crossed the pond in the early days and antique stoneware bottles of Francis Drake Ginger Beer, which was made from 1867 to 1925 in New Glasgow Nova Scotia, are still around. Vice Admiral Francis Drake was born in Tavistock in Devon, where KP grew up and I spend part of every summer. We often visit Buckland Abbey, Francis Drake’s former home, where he may have plotted his navigation of the globe or his defence of the British Isles from the Spanish Armada.
You may have to plot making this in several stages but it’s totally worth it.
Yeghes da! (Good health in Cornish)
Sir Frances Drake Gimlet
45ml Caorunn gin
10ml coriander (cilantro) Bianco Vermouth*
30ml rhubarb and ginger cordial**
15ml fresh lime juice
15ml egg white
A coriander or flat parsley leaf to garnish (optional)
- Cocktail shaker
- Fine strainer
- Coupe glass
How to mix
Add all of the ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake vigorously until ice cold. Then strain the cocktail using a ‘fine strainer’ or tea sift, into a chilled cocktail glass, to ensure a smooth and silky finish.
*To make the coriander (cilantro) Bianco Vermouth: add 25g of fresh coriander to 1/4 bottle (250ml) of Gancia Bianco Vermouth. Leave to macerate for 24 hours then strain. This will make more than the amount needed for one cocktail.
**For the rhubarb and ginger cordial: Dissolve 12 parts caster sugar in 12 parts rhubarb juice and 1 part ginger juice. Mix this with 0.5 parts of citric acid solution (i.e. 1 part of citric acid and 5 parts of water). If you can’t get citric acid (also known as lemon sugar in the Middle East) substitute lemon juice. The juice of one lemon is equal to one rounded teaspoon of citric acid. Alternatively there’s a recipe here (although I haven’t had Denzel’s approval on this one yet!)
What to do with your remaining coriander infused Martini Bianco? Make a herby Gin and French by mixing one part gin, one part martini and one part tonic water. Garnish with lime. You could also use it instead of white wine in a risotto. And the rhubarb and ginger cordial is an awesome addition to a glass of fizz.
What’s in your glass this month? Are there any other gripping series I should be watching? And how have you coped with a major life change? All tips appreciated.