Armageddon Cooler: G and T

I have not had a good Gin and Tonic in years, but after reading this article, I have a mighty, mighty thirst. - Armageddon Cooler: G&T : On a warm day in December 1961, John F. Kennedy drank Gin and Tonics in Bermuda while working out the details of the end of the world. The president was meeting with British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, discussing how to combat the growing Soviet nuclear threat. Each had his own team of Strangeloves, and all were gathered for drinks before lunch. Among them was Macmillan's chief science adviser, Sir William Penney, the physicist who had built England's first nuke. Asked how many bombs Russia would need to destroy the U.K., Penney said, “It would take five or six, but to be on the safe side, let us say seven or eight, and” -- just at that moment a steward passed by -- “I'll have another gin and tonic if you would be so kind.”

This statement, Arthur Schlesinger Jr. wrote in “A Thousand Days,” “uttered in one rush of breath, summed up for the Prime Minister and the President the absurdity of mankind setting about to destroy itself.” For the rest of the summit, Kennedy and Macmillan used “I'll have another gin and tonic, if you would be so kind” as an all-purpose punch line.

There isn't really a recipe for making a Gin and Tonic, the only variable is what gin to use. The author of the WSJ article and myself concur: Tanqueray No. Ten. Mix with tonic water, squeeze fresh limes, and serve over ice cubes. A refreshing afternoon treat. Too bad I don't (currently) have any gin in the house.

Charles Baker explains in The Gentleman's Companion, An Exotic Drinking Book, how

the antimalarial drug quinine came to be an essential highball ingredient: “Originated to Combat Fevers, Real or Alleged, & which Later Became an Established Drink in India & the Tropical British East, & Still Later Became Accepted over Here by American Hosts Who Wanted to Impress Folk with Having Combed the Orient.” Nowadays, the quinine content of tonic is negligible. But at the time, Baker warned it was a medicine not to be overdosed: “On more than one occasion we have temporarily showed aberration on this subject, with the result that our ears rang unmercifully and next day we felt like Rameses II, réchauffé.”


My favorite gin for mixing with tonic, however, turned out to be Tanqueray No. Ten. I didn't much like Ten when I was stirring Martinis -- the bright taste of citrus peel overpowered the drier flavors. But in a Gin and Tonic, Ten is a triumph: With nothing other than gin, tonic and ice in the glass, you'd think that you had already squeezed half a lime into the mix. But go ahead and squeeze plenty of fresh lime juice in anyway, if you would be so kind, and you've got a drink worthy of anyone from a president to a chimp.

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This page contains a single entry by swanksalot published on July 8, 2006 6:47 PM.

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