9 January 2014

un gin tonic, por favor

Now that the crazy festive season is finally over, and let’s be honest it does go on a bit in Spain, let’s consider more serious matters at hand. Gin.

We arrived back in Spain in September and I for one was looking forward to having a Menorcan gin and tonic in some swanky bar, or at home, or wherever really. You might think it strange that gin, or “ginebra” to its Spanish friends, might be made in Menorca, but it was in fact the British that imported the idea of gin to the island in the 1700s when we invaded and were obviously in need of a tipple one Sunday afternoon, as one does. My favourite gin is Xoriguer, a wonderfully herby gin with a very full-flavoured, non-spirity finish. It is full of the flavours of the Med; rosemary, thyme and other such woody gnarled up bits of bark you probably wouldn’t know the name of or assume would be in a gin in the first place. The distinctive taste of juniper is of course still there but the other botanicals make it a fuller gin than most. Oh, I’m gushing (read: am parched).

Anyway, we arrived in Almeria and low and behold not a drop of Xoriguer in sight. We must have visited every supermarket, every bodega in the region and although people knew there was a gin from Menorca, its charms obviously hadn’t quite made it this far south. I ended up having to buy a bottle online, which of course I could have done ages ago in Germany or the UK, but at least I have my (half empty) bottle now. Might need to re-order in a minute.

But then that swanky bar moment came and there I was reclining on a huge white sponge in an “oh-so-trendy-loungey” sort of beach bar with the sound of the waves in the near distance and unflattering green lighting in the palms. Surely they have my gin. I asked initially for a gin tonic knowing the snobby waiter would ask “which gin?” and he did. “Which gin?, we have 64 types” (a silent “you bastard” was in there somewhere). But I could trump him with his “I’m so cool because I work for shite pay in this cool bar and what’s more we have 64 types of gin” attitude. The impact of my retort was however diluted a tad, as having forgotten the name of my favourite gin (names with Xs are always tricky for me) I asked if he had “that gin from Menorca?” He was instantly my best friend. It was like a code had been cracked. “Of course, Xoriguer?”, “Lovely, gracias”. The gin was fantastically presented with its close friend, Tonic and a swirl of other activity in the bowl-like glass. At last, my gin.

Gin is so the drink of the season (last and maybe this coming season!) in Spain. Who in their right minds would go into a bar with less than 50 gins on offer. The humble G&T has suddenly turned into a status symbol. This was confirmed when the bill came and my lovely Xoriguer and tónica was indeed 11 euros. Maybe if they’d left out all the bits floating around in it, they might have been able to do it for less and still make enough to pay the oh-so-friendly waiter his shite wage. In any case, it was doubly worth every euro as when we left my ginebra connoisseur friend rushed out and gave me a mini bottle of the elusive stuff as a present. What a nice man. Cheers.

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