When the global economy is threatened, Prairie Dog takes action
Drink! by Aidan Morgan
On June 23, the United Kingdom voted on whether to remain a part of the European Union or pick up its currency and go home. Pollsters and bookmakers determined that the Remain camp would carry the day and the UK would vote for the status quo and return to its normal routine of vaguely disliking the rest of Europe but staying on as economic and political partners.
To nearly everyone’s surprise, Britain voted to leave.
Brexit, as it was hashtagged, unleashed a torrent of political mendacity, economic uncertainty, old-fashioned xenophobia and a series of hilarious post-vote Google searches (‘What is the E.U.” is one that should probably have been undertaken before the referendum). Pundits, politicians, journalists and actual people wrung their hands in despair and wondered: can anything good could come of this whole affair?
The answer is yes, because Prairie Dog has turned the geopolitical Brexit mess into a mixological challenge. Who can mix the perfect Brexit cocktail? We started contacting bars to round up a coalition of the willing.
The rules of the challenge were simple: 1) Make a drink called a Brexit. 2) Serve it to us and we would drink it. 3) I guess that’s it for rules.
(We started with a more elaborate set of rules that involved randomizing the order of the establishments and insisting on different types of drinks, but much like the Brexit vote, all semblance of order and rule went to hell within minutes.)
Armed with a notebook and a mandate to get drunk in the most British possible way (aside from downing three pints before last call and throwing up in the middle of Picadilly Circus), editor Steve Whitworth and I gathered at the Capitol and began our quest.
Would we vote to remain with our sobriety? Or part ways with it for the evening?
The Brexit Vesper
ESTABLISHMENT: Capitol Jazz Bar
MIXED BY: Judd Stachowski
INGREDIENTS: Boodles Gin, Chase Vodka, Lillet Blanc, garnished with lemon zest and served in a martini glass.
STEVE’S HOT TAKE: “Oh god, gin.”
At Prairie Dog gatherings, the only rule is never to let Steve drink gin. I don’t even know what happens when Steve gets into the gin because no one will discuss the consequences. But with a British-themed cocktail challenge like this, it was only a matter of time before someone presented us with a glass of the volatile, vaporous, eye-watering stuff.
Judd prepared what may be the most isolationist cocktail imaginable: a slightly sweeter version of the classic Bond martini, with gin, vodka, lillet blanc and a length of lemon zest with a knot in the middle. The knot, Judd explained, represented the tangled political situation in the UK.
As I sipped, I wondered how James Bond would have voted in the referendum. It struck me that Fleming’s creation wouldn’t have bothered to vote. He’d probably hop a plane to Brussels, shoot the EU Commission in the heads and go eat a steak. What is Spectre, after all, but a criminal cabal of Eurocrats determining the fate of the continent? You think James Bond would stand for that?
The Brexit Vesper: a delicious and suave martini to savour in your Saville Row suit as you drive through the streets of Brussels at breakneck speeds in your Aston Martin in pursuit of Jean-Claude Juncker.
In the chair next to me, Steve ate pretzels and mushroom toast to absorb the booze and hopefully counter whatever effect gin has on him.
VERDICT: An unwitting embodiment of the violence inherent in the system. Come drink the violence inherent in the system!
Tea Service Brexit
ESTABLISHMENT: Crave Kitchen + Wine Bar
MIXED BY: Jacob Kereluke
INGREDIENTS: Johnnie Walker Black scotch, rhurbarb syrup, rhubarb bitters, Red Rose tea, lemon juice, purple basil sugar, egg whites, candied rhubarb, purple basil garnish, served in a gilded Assiniboine Club tea cup.
STEVE’S HOT TAKE: “As a Whitworth, I approve of this Brexit.”
To our great delight, Judd decided to join us for the next stop in our interpretive dance tour of booze. Crave had taken some time to prepare this one: an assembly of ingredients that struck me as something a mixologist at a hip Shoreditch lounge would employ. With the purple basil floating atop a scrim of basil sugar and a stick of candied rhubarb thumbing its way out of the teacup, it was almost too pretty to disturb. But disturb it we did.
I wondered about the politics of the scotch. Was this Crave’s way of acknowledging the possibility of Scotland breaking away from the UK in the wake of the Brexit vote? Was this a drink about the impossibility of a serene union and a warning of the turbulent times to come? That’s a lot of subtext to pack into a drink.
VERDICT: There are no winners when it comes to Brexit. But holy moley, this thing ruled.
ESTABLISHMENT: Fat Badger
MIXED BY: Angela Smith (concept by Dave Waller, who would like you to know he’s not just a pretty face)
INGREDIENTS: Tanqueray, Galliano, Bailey’s, Earl Grey tea, poured into a tall glass and topped with foamy egg white.
STEVE’S HOT TAKE: “You say it’s a dessert drink, but I say it tastes like the beginning of something. Something DRUNKEN.”
At this point Judd peeled off from the group but Jacob joined us for the last Brexit of the night. We strolled over to the Fat Badger to see what they had in store for us.
It turned out that the Badger had devised an alcoholic take on a London Fog, with Earl Grey tea forming a bergamot backbone. Angela topped the drinks off with foamy egg whites, which provided an extra bit of sweetness to remove the herbal notes from the gin and Galliano. I think Dave intended the drink to be a version of the London Fog latte, but it also resembles the cocktail of the same name, a mix of gin and Pernod.
We took our drinks outside to the patio. A couple of friends joined us. I was finished with ferreting out political commentary in my drinks and decided to enjoy the evening. And Jacob ordered the enchiladas, which looked super good.
VERDICT: That’s the way to end a Brexit.
Every drink had something to recommend itself, but for preparation, presentation and sheer flavour, the Tea Service Brexit from Crave takes this year’s prize. Jacob from Crave will become the next Prime Minister of the UK. He will have the honour of invoking Article 50 of the EU Charter and dealing with the resultant chaos.
Good luck, Jacob!