‘The Steeple Times’ counters ‘Dry January’ by selecting five drinking delights that those on a variety of budgets will say cheers to in this anything but actually maudlin month
Sanctimonious sorts in Britain and beyond have been spinning the ‘virtues’ (not that we’ve noticed any) of not drinking in the first month of the year.
Dull and drippy public relations peddlers have rammed the concept of the ludicrous and completely overpriced emperor’s new clothes of drinks – ‘non-alcoholic spirits’ – down all our necks and those that dare to say they prefer ‘Dry Ginuary’ have been labelled ‘lushes’ even. We think this frankly ridiculous and today suggest a counterpoint – enjoy what you wish and enjoy it with abandon.
To counter the balderdash of the teetotalling twazzocks, here we select five things that would most definitely delight drinkers this month. We follow with a selection of the very best drinking advice and phrases.
1970s Italian drinks cabinet by Aldo Tura
£4,500 ($5,575, €5,128 or درهم20,475), Brownrigg of Tetbury, Gloucestershire.
Take your home bar to a new level in 2023 with this lacquered goatskin, brass and burl bar cabinet by the firm of the much-lauded Italian craftsman Aldo Tura (1909 – 1963).
Tura’s passion for all things booze related extended to cocktail shakers, ice buckets and trays also but this incredible cabinet is talked up by ritzy antiques aficionados Brownrigg as capable of “making a statement” in any setting.
1960s Italian cocktail shaker by Aldo Tura
£515 ($638, €587 or درهم2,343), excluding shipping costs from Italy, from Pamono by Chairish
If you’re green with envy of whoever ends up buying the previously mentioned cocktail cabinet, but not quite in the four-figure price range to get it through your front door, how about a 1960s cocktail shaker by the same firm?
One is currently available online and it is described as “space age” in style. Get John Lee Hooker and T. Bone Walker’s 1962 classic on and Shake It Baby! The 10cm by 10cm by 23cm high piece in green parchment is talked-up as being in “excellent condition.”
Silicone grenade ice cube mould
£9.07 ($11.24, €10.34 or درهم41.27) for two, plus shipping costs, from Etsy.
Regular ice cube trays just don’t cut it and the ice they produce waters down beverages too quickly. Get your drinking partners into military shape with the grenade ice cubes these silicone moulds produce – they’ll go down better than a bomb!
Junimperium Estonian gin
£41.24 ($51.09, €46.99 or درهم187.64), excluding delivery costs, from Master of Malt for a 70cl 45% ABV bottle of blended dry gin.
Are you bored of Bombay and Beefeater? If so, spice up your home bar with some unusual gins that’ll have your guests bursting out with delight this January? Junimperium’s multi-award winning, blended dry gins are made from Estonian berries but balanced with a peppery and rich finish. You most certainly won’t find them in Tesco or J. D. Wetherspoons.
Aside from a 45% ABV blended dry gin, see off those winter blues by the fireside with a special spicy ‘Winter Edition’ – which features warming cardamom notes and an “unfiltered lingonberry infusion.”
First edition of the 1930 ‘The Savoy Cocktail Book’ by Harry Craddock along with the author’s swordstick
£6,950 ($8,611, €7,920 or درهم31,622) from Rooke Books of Bath.
Harry Craddock (1876 – 1963) was undoubtedly the best barman of the 20th century – if not ever. A United States citizen from 1897, though born in Stroud Gloucestershire, Craddock moved back to the UK in 1926 because of his dislike of prohibition. As head bartender at the American Bar at The Savoy, here was a cocktail shaker who became the genius creator of over 240 cocktails, but sadly someone who was ultimately buried in a pauper’s grave.
His classics numbered the Old Fashioned, the Corpse Reviver and the White Lady and his cocktail book has been termed a “wonderful work” and “beyond iconic.” The first edition offered is unique in that it comes with not only an inscription of “Here’s How, Harry Craddock” to Collis-Phillips Halpin but also the author’s swordstick.
Of the accompaniment, Rooke Books observe:
“[The swordstick] is in a damaged condition and is lacking the end of the stick. Plastow stated that the damage occurred when an inebriated patron was abusive to other customers of the American Bar where Collis worked. The patron refused to leave a party of ladies alone and therefore Craddock attended the scene, hitting the man so hard across the shoulder that the stick broke. ‘The American Cocktail Bar erupted in cheers.’ … Owing to the accompanying swordstick, we would only be able to ship this book within the UK.”
For those without the four-figure budget for this bit of boozing history, a “value edition” of the book can be purchased on Amazon in paperback form for just £10.50.
Great Drinking Phrases
“If you can’t have one at eleven, have eleven at one.”
“Down the hatch, round the gums, look out Tommy, here it comes.”
“Time is only for the middle classes.”
“It must be 6pm somewhere in the world.”
“They say: ‘No wine before nine,’ but they don’t specify am or pm.”
“Any day, anytime, anywhere.”
Wise Drinking Advice
“If you’ve had enough, pour yourself a G&T, you have my permission.”
BBC Radio 4 ‘Woman’s Hour’ presenter Anita Rani on home-schooling parents during the January 2021 lockdown.
“[Alcohol is] the only drug you do not have to apologise for taking… [I] associate drinking with friendship and good times… The advice to ‘drink responsibly’ is the world’s most boring phrase.”
BBC presenter Adrian Chiles on drinking during lockdowns.
“Every Friday in lockdown, my neighbour has left a delicious gin and tonic at my front door. Beats tinned tomatoes hands down.”
Madeline Glancy of Prestwich, Lancashire in a letter to ‘The Telegraph’ in May 2020.
Wise Words About Gin
“Let the evening beGIN!”
“I don’t know what reception I’m at, but for God’s sake, give me a gin and tonic.”
The well-known gin lover and husband of Margaret Thatcher, Denis Thatcher.
“Life is too short for single gins.”
“Red meat and gin.”
America’s answer to Keith Floyd, Julia Child, on the reason for her longevity.
“I love water, especially when it’s frozen and surrounded by gin.”
“Myself, I’m a fan of the gin without the tonic. Why on God’s great earth would you want to water down such masterpiece?”
Reader of ‘The Steeple Times’ ‘The Stray Cat.’
“I exercise strong self-control. I never drink anything stronger than gin before breakfast.”
American actor and comedian W. C. Fields.
“Gin-drinking is a great vice in England, but wretchedness and dirt are a greater [vice].”
Charles Dickens, ‘Sketches’ (1836).
“When life gives you juniper, make gin!”
Holistic health author Laurie Buchanan.
“Don’t cry over spilt milk, it could’ve been gin.”
Night school tutor: “Write a horror story in six words.” Student: “I-have-run-out-of-gin.”
“A perfect martini should be made by filling a glass with gin then waving it in the general direction of Italy.”
“The proper union of gin and vermouth is a great and sudden glory; it is one of the happiest marriages on earth, and one of the shortest lived.”
American historian Bernard DeVoto.
“The gin and tonic has saved more Englishmen’s lives, and minds, than all the doctors in the Empire.”
“Of all the gin joints, in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.”
Humphrey Bogart as Rick in ‘Casablanca’ (1942).
“Gym? I thought you said: ‘Gin.’”
“The only time I ever enjoyed ironing was the day I accidentally got gin in the steam iron.”
Comedian Phyllis Diller.
“Stop saying I’m hard to buy for… You know where the gin aisle is.”
“Gin drinkers are sassy, classy and just a little smart assy.”
“You’d learn more about the world by lying on the couch and drinking gin out of a bottle than by watching the news.”
American radio personality Garrison Keillor.
“Fortunately, there is gin, the sole glimmer in this darkness. Do you feel the golden, copper-coloured light it kindles in you? I like walking through the city of an evening in the warmth of gin.”
French philosopher and journalist Albert Camus.
“I tried to say no to gin… But it’s 40% stronger than me”
“I’ll stick with gin. Champagne is just ginger ale that knows somebody.”
Dr. Hawkeye Pierce from M*A*S*H.
“Things, since you left, have not gone well with me: they have taken me from a place where there was gin to a place where there is no gin.”
British barrister and detective story author Sarah Cockburn (pseudonym Sarah Caudwell).
“According to chemists, gin IS a solution.”
“Gin is not A solution. It is always THE solution.”
Reader of ‘The Steeple Times’ Shaun Keaveny.
“Gin and drugs, dear lady, gin and drugs.”
The reply of T. S. Eliot when asked about inspiration.
“It’s always gin o’clock.”