My Fellow Inebriates,
You don’t want to know where I’ve been, so let’s get to it. Our three contenders:
- BROKER’S GIN. Our pet gin (or gin of pet bears at least) entered the competition the frontrunner. How would it fare, my fellow inebriates?
- TANQUERAY. Strangely enough, we hadn’t pitted TANQUERAY against other gins before. Always a household favorite, we were sure it would stand and be counted. But against BROKER’S…?
- PINK 47. New to LBHQ and relatively new to the booze world, PINK 47 hit the market in 2007 to reported critical accolades. The flashiest bottle of our three entrants, it came in swinging with 47 percent alcohol. Would it bitchslap BROKER’S and TANQ with their modest 40 percent? Read on, MFI.
But first let’s flash-forward to 3:00 a.m. Many G&Ts have been consumed, in addition to a Viognier, a Torrontes, and a Cab with—unaccountably—a pot of tea somewhere in between. My dad is receiving a back massage from another man. A dozen guests and almost that many children have long gone home to bed, the adults having politely sampled a thimbleful of each gin before opting out of the remaining shenanigans. All except my parents and our good friend R, who arrived before dinner with a giant insect, under which I woke up to witness the aforementioned provocative tableau.
The brilliant thing about gin is the lucid high it confers. It’s a shiny kind of drunkenness, but it inspires all kinds of nuttiness. The last time Dad and R got ripped out of their heads I had to watch them play Guitar Hero, and this scenario promised to be almost as bad. Let’s leave it alone for a moment and talk gin.
First up: PINK 47 LONDON DRY GIN ($34.99 for 700 mL). Quadruple-distilled and grandstanding with 12 botanicals, PINK 47 wowed our guests with its diamond-inspired bottle and vivid label. As for me, it had me at 47 percent. This seemed an unassailable and possibly unfair advantage from the bear perspective, but how would the human taste buds find it?
We passed out tiny samples to reluctant guests who said things like, “Wait a sec. Is gin supposed to be consumed straight?” PINK 47 was aromatic and appealing, but perhaps not the best gin to begin the tasting with. As the most alcoholic of the three, it was a shock. The guests were dutiful, though, and drank it down. PINK 47 was aggressive but charming, with the competence of a seasoned hooker or porn star.
The Gin & Tonic
Despite its marketplace youth, PINK 47 has won a bunch of trophies, and the G&T is probably why. With its heady but clean botanicals and high potency, it cuts through mixer assertively. It makes a ravishing G&T that will land you on your ass if you happen to be a small bear. Comments included:
“tastes like hitting someone.”
Next up: TANQUERAY ($26.99 for 750 mL). We’ve always preferred TANQUERAY to its snooty sibling TANQ 10. It has a nice balance of classic botanicals with a citrusy profile and uber-smoothness. Its price tag is reasonable and it comports itself just as well in a martini as in a highball.
Our guests were wary of gin after sampling straight PINK 47. Of the tray we circulated, only two-thirds of the TANQUERAY thimblefuls were downed, and commentary was muted. Perhaps, after being handled so forcefully by PINK 47, our tasters felt underwhelmed. Perhaps they were afraid (I doubt any of them ever woke up under a giant praying mantis). The consensus was…subdued. It was dry and refined, and didn’t draw undue attention to itself. Very English. I could picture it queuing up politely to vote.
The Gin & Tonic
By this time only the stalwarts were willing to try a second G&T mixed by my mother. True, most of them had ankle biters tearing around our yard, but all lived within staggering distance. I’m thinking not everyone is as obsessed with gin as we are at LBHQ. Still, those who tasted TANQUERAY in a G&T said it was civilized and smooth. TANQUERAY is much better at hiding in a G&T than PINK 47, which makes it more of a creeper and therefore more dangerous. All good.
Lastly: BROKER’S GIN ($27.99 for 750 mL). BROKER’S is the darling of LBHQ and the winner of all our previous Gin Shoot-Outs. Business Development Manager Julia Gale and I are practically best friends, my fellow inebriates, bonded in the quest to return BROKER’S to its rightful place on my local booze shop shelves after a long and inexplicable absence. Not only is BROKER’S reasonably priced; it strikes a perfect balance between old-school tradition and playful piquancy, delivered with impeccable smoothness. We like its no-nonsense price and the fact that every time we buy it we get a little bowler hat, which Miss V usually absconds with and places on the head of her Chihuahua. Yes, BROKER’s entered the shoot-out our incumbent. Would TANQ come from behind with its subtle smoothness? Or would PINK 47 whip the bejesus out of it with its 47 percent alcohol? The shoot-out was BROKER’S to lose.
Third time around even more of our thimblefuls got ignored. Only the die-hards were really committed to doing this thing, which was all right, because data from a dozen tasters would have been really confusing to compile. There was concurrence, though: BROKER’S is dry and refined, hitting all the traditional notes without clouting you over the head. Compared to TANQUERAY, BROKER’S comes off a little cheeky; it has more personality. If it were animate, it would be the cleverest of the three, with TANQ chuffing in a belated and overcompensatory way at its witticisms, and PINK 47 laughing raunchily as the jokes sailed over its head. But of course gin is not animated (how foolish to think of an inanimate object as animate), so we’ll just say BROKER’S brings more to the table botanically than TANQ, and doesn’t show its underwear like PINK 47.
The Gin & Tonic
Only the most committed gin tasters enjoyed a G&T featuring each of the contenders. However, those three people (and one bear) more than made up for the reticence of our well-behaved guests. Usually I’d chart the results, but my head hurts too much, and a lot of the data has slipped away, parceled as it was with other data I deliberately flushed. Truth be told, we extended this Shoot-Out for many days after the official event, returning to the fridge like Scarybear when there’s a cake in it, cycling through all three brands repeatedly until we realized that BROKER’S was it. Classically traditional, a perfect booze-mixer balance, and an orchestra of superbly modulated botanical chords.
And the winner is…
Sorry if that’s an anticlimax. But for those of you who persevered to the end of this post to see what my dad was up to… The praying mantis said I imagined the whole thing. Then it reminded me there was still gin in the fridge.
“Hey, wake up. I heard there’s gin left over.”