I’m just arrived in Oil Country so this will have to be a short installment of Thursday Night Loaded. Fortunately, there are several loose ends from previous posts and some comments I’ve left unanswered, so I’ll get to all those right now.

SUMMER OF PIMM’S UPDATE ONE: Some of you may recall that I declared the Pimm’s Cup the Official Mixed Drink of Summer 2010 in Regina. I’ve been doing my part by introducing most everyone who’s been over to my house to this fine summer cooler. Interestingly, on my last visit to the South Albert liquor store, I noticed that they have only three bottles of Pimm’s No. 1 left (scratch that, two bottles, once I departed). That’s down from a full complement of 12 when I made my first purchase of the summer. Now, as much as I wish they could, my purchases alone cannot account for this dramatic decline in Pimm’s stores. And while I’d like to think promoting Pimm’s on this blog is driving up sales, I doubt that very much. Regardless, Regina is getting into the spirit of the Summer of Pimm’s whether it knows it or not and that means Pimm’s is in no way an endangered drink. In fact, I hear the SLGA will be bringing more in.

SUMMER OF PIMM’S UPDATE TWO: I mentioned in “More Pimm’s Cup, Please” that I had come across a couple other mixed drinks that call for Pimm’s No. 1 (the Old Hall and the Harvard Special) and that once I’d tried them I’d report back. Well, a lack of Rose’s Lime Cordial has kept me from tasting the Old Hall but I picked up a bottle of Galliano not too long ago and gave the Harvard Special a try. Have to say, it didn’t knock me out. Generally, I find tall drinks underwhelming — the Pimm’s Cup, the Gin and Tonic (with a decent gin), the Tom Collins (properly prepared) and a couple others aside. In this case, the addition of the Galliano just tipped the sweetness over the top. And I found the vanilla flavour overpowered everything — both the ginger in the Ginger Ale and the delightful tannininess of the Pimm’s. The drink came off rather like a fancy vanilla bean soda pop and not much else. If I were to make another, I might swap the Ginger Ale for Ginger Beer. Or maybe, halve the Galliano. Or, maybe I’ll just leave the Harvard Special behind and mix a proper Pimm’s Cup instead. It is the Official Mixed Drink of Summer 2010 in Regina, after all.

Whoops. Tried to keep this short and failed. Well, quinine, Lillet and comments after the jump….

ON QUININE POWDER: In “Secret Agents and Lillet Blanc“, I mentioned that the addition of a little quinine powder to a Vesper might compensate for the change to Lillet’s formulation in the 80s. Well, I contacted a naturopath friend of mine to find out about how one goes about purchasing quinine powder. She tells me that, as it’s a malaria-fighting pharmaceutical, it is a regulated substance under federal law and you can’t just pop down to a shop and buy a baggy of the stuff anymore. I’m undeterred and will continue the search.

ON MY EFFORTS TO PURCHASE SOME BOTTLES OF LILLET BLANC: While I’m on the subject of Lillet, in “Special Order for the Corpse Reviver“, I hinted that I might be interested in gathering a merry band of drunkards willing to go in on a special order of a case of Lillet (seeing as I can’t justify buying an entire one myself). Total number of people who’ve responded to my suggestion: 0. I’m just saying….


In response to “Special Order for the Corpse Reviver,” Anonymous says on the subject of Lillet Blanc:

It doesn’t keep forever either…  my suggestion is when on a trip to the states – take an extra suitcase – the duty isn’t too bad for low alcohol items like lillet.  Vegas has a great selection.

I responded to this but it’s a really important comment so I thought I’d include it in this post (and I’ll probably bring it up again when I’m writing about Manhattans… it’s that important).

Right you are, Anon. Right you are, indeed. Lillet does not keep. In fact, as you probably already know because you clearly know a thing or fifteen about booze, Lillet is a fortified wine and most fortified wines don’t keep once they’ve been opened.

The important thing about this, and this is terrifying in it’s implications, is that this also goes for vermouths!

Yes, vermouths — both sweet Italian and dry French — are fortified wines and once you open them they start to go off just like regular wine does. More slowly than regular wine thankfully due to their fortifiedness. But off they will go. (For instance, I recently found in the back of my liquor cabinet an ancient bottle of dry Noilly Prat. I find it tastes flat and lifeless and though it’s more than three-quarters full it’s now sink bound.)

Thomas Mario says that you shouldn’t keep an open bottle on the shelf for any length of time at all and recommends that, once open, you store your vermouths and similar beverages in the fridge. They’ll keep their flavour for a few months that way.

You’ll notice, though — and this is the terrifying-in-it’s-implications part — that in most bars, the vermouth sits on the shelf with all the other spirits. And that means, it’s highly unlikely that any cocktail you order that calls for vermouth will be prepared with a fresh vermouth. And that means, all bar vermouth should be considered suspect and, if you keep your own vermouths refrigerated, the Martinis and Manhattans you prepare at home will not only be cheaper than at a bar, they’ll also be better.

In response to “More Pimm’s Cup, Please“, Barb Saylor says of the Pimm’s Cup:

Like the Bloody Caesar, a salad in a glass!

How true, Barb. But as I’ve lately discovered that Guinness does not count as a serving of vegetables (who knew?), I’ve had to get my greens elsewhere.

Also in response to “More Pimm’s Cup, Please“, TS asks:

So Paul are you planning to do a Loaded column on drinks with fruit? I need a few ideas for the summer and I find I don’t have many in my ‘drink litature.’

Sorry, TS. I think you might be casting about for something in the “Tiki” vein and I’m really not up on those concoctions. Too much coring of pineapples and taking of machetes to coconuts for me. But here’s a book that might help you out. I tried to find something in the RPL on the subject but failed so I had to turn to Amazon. The cover looks ridiculous but it’s a respected cocktail tome. Hope that’s what you’re looking for.