Nagging questions

Radical changes in routines are afoot in the Henry household.

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Over Christmas at her vacation ranch in the Catskills, Pepper picked up an intestinal bug prevalent in beaver scat (Who knew?) and began losing weight. Saintly Dr. Brown, font of veterinary wisdom and love, promptly and permanently removed raw chicken from the Pepper Food menu because of the possibility of salmonella poisoning. Until the system re-boots, Pepper eats Hills canned “prescription diet W/D.” To his dog-savvy readers Mr. Henry asks: What is the best dog food?

More distressing was Mr. Henry’s breezy abandonment of principles with regard to mixed drinks. He has long maintained that the classic dry martini is the one and only mixed drink that passes muster or, in this lifetime, passes his lips. The flu’s choke hold on his head and chest sent him ransacking the refrigerator for anything to sooth his sore throat, and ransacking the whiskey cupboard for anything alcoholic to suppress his cough. Lurking behind the buttermilk was a lone bottle of tonic, an odd lot leftover from summer.

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Tonic water, it turned out, acted as a tonic to the malaise. Somehow this came as a surprise to Mr. Henry, another example of flu-induced woolly-headedness, perhaps, or his long-standing prejudice against mixed drinks and their drinkers. With the last Meyer lemon added, a cold glass of bitter tonic tickled his numb palate and set his heart a-race.

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Furtively adding a dash of Hendrick’s gin before 5:00 p.m., he settled back to enjoy the successes of British colonialism, to lay down the white man’s burden, and to watch the televised make-believe that passes for frank political debate in this country. To tonic drinkers out on the information highway, Mr. Henry asks: Does tonic make your heart race, too? (And might it color your political views?)

For those interested in an excellent prècis on how to use the Meyer lemon, by the way, take a look at Cooking with Amy.

The real vehicle of betrayal came at Naughty Mary’s house in the guise of an exquisitely delicious orange aperitif of three parts Hendrick’s, one part Lillet, and a dash of orange bitters. Now that he has become a drinker of aperitifs, of flowery-colored aperitifs, no less, Mr. Henry can no longer hold up his head at the club. It comes as a comfort, therefore, that he holds no club membership.

5 Responses to “Nagging questions”

  1. Eilish January 29, 2008 at 11:45 pm #

    I was in my mid-teens when my charmingly sophisticated grandmother introduced me to the perfect afternoon drink: the gin and tonic has been my warm-weather favorite ever since. The crispness of both the tonic and the gin are perfect for a warm day, though I prefer a good martini in the evening.

  2. ChaChaHeels January 30, 2008 at 3:40 pm #

    I prefer a dry gin martini, since to me that was the drink I always associated with Adults. It’s something you have to learn to love, when you first start socializing and drinking and basically moving from childhood into what passes for being full grown these days.

    But that tonic water, I’ve always loved its slightly bitter snap, even as a kid (and back then, I used to drink it’s main ingredient in the Italian drink “Chinotto”–basically chincona extract (which is quinine’s other name) and 8 other herbs). You feel better because of the tonic water’s quinine,the ingredient that adds the “zip” to its taste. Tonic water was introduced to help ward off malaria after all, which is not that much more than an exhausting flu, with a fever, that just comes back again and again.

    How’s that for justification?

  3. Mr. Henry January 30, 2008 at 4:14 pm #

    That’s it! Mr. Henry is suffering from a brief bout of malaria, and suffering rather nobly, at that. He is certain to gain greater household sympathy now, as well as greater leniency to enjoy quinine tonic and its accompaniments.

  4. raincoaster February 2, 2008 at 7:50 am #

    Mr. Henry is ill indeed if he is unable to enjoy his preferred tipple with a side of pride. All classic cocktails are equal-opportunity, and indeed Hemingway himself preferred a nice Daiquiri (with grapefruit, it’s a little complicated). Bogie was no stranger to a mixed drink either. They are fine role models.

    While gin, with or without tonic, is a favorite chez raincoaster, I find that a nice Irish Whiskey toddy with clove-studded lemon and sweetened with a spoonful of maple syrup, is the best for stilling a cough. It might be just the novelty, my entire body having built up something of a resistance to gin through over-familiarity.

    May I recommend Plymouth, if you can get it? Hendrick’s is a bit inflexible when it comes to mixing. And if you like the Lillet cocktail, you might like a Bronx, which has the benefit of healthy juice!
    Juice of 1/4 orange (blood orange is a marvelous twist)
    1/2 oz dry vermouth
    1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
    1 ounce gin
    Shaken and served straight up.

  5. raincoaster February 2, 2008 at 7:54 am #

    Ernest Hemingway’s Daiquiri:
    Mix in a shaker:
    1 scoop crushed ice
    juice of 1/2 lime
    1/4 ounce grapefruit juice
    1/4 ounce maraschino liqueur
    1 1/2 ounce white rum (Cuban if you can get it)
    Mix in a shaker, do not strain.
    Serve in an iced cocktail glass.