Just a check-up, my ass

My Fellow Inebriates,

Miss P had a lingual frenectomy yesterday. I hadn’t been paying attention to her orthodontic odyssey, otherwise I would have known about the laser snip to her sublingual frenulum—that thin membrane stretching from mouth floor to tongue underside—which had became an obstacle to inserting a new orthodontic appliance.

The whole thing seemed so sudden—like some sort of periodontal whim on the part of our crazy parents. Why didn’t they mention it??? I would have been sympathetic. Maybe I would have volunteered to serve as Comfort Animal. Certainly I would have offered blender drinks afterward.

According to Dad, P was beyond brave, especially when he and Miss V had to leave the room for the 15-minute procedure, leaving her in the hands of a strange doctor with a laser. But seriously, how sudden. Is this how we do things now? Take the kid in for a check-up and next thing you know, we’re slicing up her frenulum?! I mean, “WTF?” is what P should be saying, if she can manage to say it yet.

Parents often go for the old ambush when it comes to vaccinations and other scary shit. By this time “just a check-up” should be a red flag for P and V. But it’s never certain…sometimes a check-up is just a check-up. Sometimes you get stuck in the arm. And sometimes a doctor singes off your frenulum with a fucking laser. OMG.

Still. If we wanted orthodontics to proceed (and why wouldn’t we want a dentist to have all that liquor money?), this appalling thing needed to be done. So said my dad. So I decided to learn more about the frenectomy. How much did it hurt P? How long would she need blender drinks? Did she need medicine and/or tequila in said blender drinks? Would that crazy frenulum thing grow back? And would she ever trust my parents to lead her into any sort of medical building again?

I googled “lingual frenectomy” hoping for these answers. But I got other answers I hadn’t thought of.

Lingual frenectomy

Holy crap, this was a whole other tangent. Sordid and irrelevant! But intriguing! What the hell was this thread about? What kind of activity was this guy engaging in? (It sounded vaguely cannibalistic.) I’m just a bear, so I had no idea, and I was afraid to google anything else. So I asked Dolly if she knew.

How many Valentine's Days ago was this? Dolly says she can't remember it ever having happened, and that I have "mad Photoshop skills."

Dolly says she can’t remember this ever having happened, and that I have “mad Photoshop skills.”

I haven’t mentioned Dolly in a very long time because she asked threatened me—specifically about using the word “girlfriend,” which she maintains she never was, never has been, and never would/will. Ask her if she’s a furvert, she’ll titter, cuddle up to Red Bear, and issue no denials, but with me? Absolutely not. Dolly wishes she had one of those gadgets from Men in Black so she can erase the sweet memories my two brain cells occasionally swap back and forth about her. That or a machete.

Still. Dolly read the frenectomy thread. “And your question is, LB…?”

“What the hell is that guy talking about? Is he actually eating people? Eating beautiful women?”


If you think this face can’t deliver a withering look, you’ll have to take my word on it.

“LB, you are a total embarrassment.”

“Oh. Well, I kind of knew that.”

“It’s okay, LB. But you’re on your own with this one. After all, my underwear are sewn on.

Now I was even more confused. “But who can I ask? You’re the smartest in the toybox, Dolly. I can’t ask Scarybear. He’ll kick my ass. In fact, I’ll have no choice but to tag this post with the phrase ‘eating beautiful women out’ in the hope that someone will explain it to me. ”

“You don’t need to know everything, LB.”

“There’s no danger of that!”

“Be that as it may. But maybe you should stick to what your brain can handle. Have you tried any new gins lately?”

“I have actually. I had some PINK 47, which tried to kick BROKER’S ass with 47 percent alcohol. Not a bad gambit.”


“That’s why you smell like juniper,” said Dolly.

“Juniper’s nice, right?”

“It is. But you also smell like persecution and mange.”

She’s probably right. How can I not feel persecuted when just last night my dad suggested we take a little trip to the laundry room? “Just a rinse with some Woolite,” he said.

OMFG!! That’s kind of like “just a check-up.”

The long-awaited gin shoot-out Part Deux!

My Fellow Inebriates,

Proving that Dry Weekdays are one of my mother’s worst ideas ever, Saturday’s Pre–Mother’s Day Gin Shoot-out quickly escalated (devolved?) into the kind of unbridled debauchery you get when lengthy privation provides the springboard. Yes, a party broke out at LBHQ. Yes, children were present, and it was mostly wholesome, at least until beddy-byes.


Christine’s arrival kicked it off. Even without a canvas bag full of Scotch (we’d billed the evening as a gin tasting), Christine was a ray of sunshine and well worth the afternoon I spent hanging out on the window sill waiting for her. Truth be told, I’d been holding some navy socks of Christine’s hostage in hopes that she’d return for them. But when she arrived I was so overjoyed that I forgot to give them to her.

Jumping into gin seemed wrong to the humans (where do these ideas come from?) so we had a beer on the patio where we could watch five-year-old Miss V beating the crap out of a bush with a badminton racket.

And then it was time for gin.

In the running:

As with the Pre-Apocalypse Gin Shoot-Out, we decided to be scientific and sample the different brands two ways:

  • straight-up shots
  • in G&Ts identically prepared with President’s Choice tonic water, ice, and lime


DSCN3439You may recall that BROKER’S GIN has been the object of a long quest at LBHQ. I first tried it before starting this blog and realized I couldn’t very well live without it. But in the last year BROKER’S disappeared from our booze shop’s shelves, and restoring it was an absolute odyssey finally accomplished thanks to the tireless efforts of my dear personal friend Julia Gale. I had built up BROKER’S GIN to mythical proportions in my furry head, and when it finally arrived at the store I think I heard angels singing (not those ones who mooch off scotch kegs, but the other, nice ones that don’t exist). Still, when you anticipate something so avidly, are you not setting yourself up for disappointment?

Straight up

There are no words.

eyes only large copy

Seriously, I don’t want to say “I told you so” because according to my parents I’m obnoxious enough, but…ahhhhhhhhh!

Delicate and floral with a rich backbone of citrus fruit and licorice, BROKER’S exudes a sophisticated, fresh scent—layered yet clean, a garden of delights. On the tongue it is gentle without being tentative, firmly hitting all the classic gin notes but somehow introducing a new register of untold harmonies. Indeed, BROKER’S was so nuanced that Christine spent a day thinking about it before commenting:

sherbetfountainsI finally figured out what that first smell was like with the Broker’s…I was thinking Licorice Allsorts but the heavier citrus with a hint of licorice was more like a waft of eating this candy from my youth….of course the gin was much smoother and subtle on the palate….I think Broker’s is my new favourite Gin……

My parents were in complete agreement, as was Blackie Bear, who unfortunately didn’t compare the BROKER’S with any other gins because he passed out.


Gin & Tonic

We immediately worried that BROKER’S would disappear into a gin-and-tonic the way BOMBAY SAPPHIRE tends to. What gives punchier gins like BEEFEATER and GORDON’S the edge in a G&T is their ability to cut through the tonic. We wondered if the subtler BROKER’S GIN might get lost. But we were pleasantly surprised that it did not. BROKER’S asserted itself through the tonic magnificently, displaying its many-layered notes through the mixer in a perfect G&T.



We went into the shoot-out wondering if GORDON’S would prevail the way it did before—if not straight up, then certainly in a mixed drink. We are big fans of this solid, traditional gin, and it has been our go-to during the BROKER’S drought. GORDON’S is a juniper-forward, commanding James Bond–reminiscent gin without falling into the deep and boomy notes you find with juniper bombs like BEEFEATER. With its acceptably subtle character, how would it fare against BROKER’S?

Straight up

Back to back against BROKER’s, a straight sip of GORDON’S was surprisingly coarse and harsh. It certainly suffered in comparison. This was a shame, because GORDON’S is a perfectly serviceable gin for a martini, and had the misfortune to take the stage after a dazzling performer. There, there, GORDON’S…we still believe in you, but for $4 more per 750mL I’d rather have BROKER’S.

Gin & Tonic

Regardless of having been shown up by BROKER’s straight up, GORDON’S makes a mean gin-and-tonic. No complaints from anyone at the table.


bOOMSMAThis was a new one for LBHQ. Probably we should have bought another London Dry gin, but we’d heard good things about BOOMSMA in a G&T, and the price was reasonable. Genever (Dutch for “gin”) has long been cherished in the Netherlands, more often as an ice-cold sipper than in mixed drinks, and although it has fallen out of style somewhat over the years, it maintains a high cultural standing.

Straight up

The first impression is how much sweeter BOOMSMA is than the other two. Despite being jonge (young) rather than oude (old) and therefore in the drier category, BOOMSMA delivers a relatively sweet burst to the palate. Moreover, it has a weightier, oilier mouthfeel. The taste itself is light and almost indistinct, although you can pick out light floral essences and characteristic gin notes. But as Christine and my dad concurred, it basically tastes like “gin for vodka drinkers.”

Gin & Tonic

BOOMSMA suffers the fate that BROKER’S so skilfully avoided: it disappears completely into a gin-and-tonic. The sweetness of the tonic masks BOOMSMA’s most notable characteristic, its own subtle sweetness, and takes out all the other tasting notes as well. BOOMSMA redeems itself by maintaining a nice boozy burn that manages to punch through the mixer. Certainly not a bad drink—just not very special, unless being a total creeper counts as special. Yes, MFI, BOOMSMA is so invisible that you find yourself adding more to your G&T. Next thing you know, it’s the next day and your cerebellum is doing this high-pitched scream thing.

gin-tasting mingler

By now a party had broken out, with other animals arriving, including this chihuahua that later made off with my bowler hat.

Results of the Shoot-Out

Here’s the breakdown (lowest being best):

gin tasting2 copy

    1. most favorite
    2. second favorite
    3. least favorite

Never, my fellow inebriates, has a Shoot-Out been so decisive. It would have been even more decisive had we included Blackie’s scoring of BROKER’S, but it wouldn’t have been fair, so here are his comments instead:

Dude, that was like…dude. I’m gonna have a little sleep now.

You and me both, buddy.

You and me both, buddy.

As for the rest of us, Christine and Dad emerged without a hangover. Mum had a two-day hangover, which serves her right for imposing Dry Weekdays. If she’d had her drink on throughout the week, she wouldn’t have gone nuts come the weekend, and her liver wouldn’t have been so out of practice. Meanwhile, Blackie still looks all wrong. And yours truly? I’m thinking, how soon can we do it again?

BROKER’S wiped the floor with these other gins. So the challenge is on.

The pre-apocalypse gin shoot-out!

I can’t remember where I found this poll. Oops.

If I thought my friend Scarybear was in the minority for thinking that we’re nearing the End of Days, well, perhaps I was right, but it’s not a small majority. This freaks me out a little. I’ve been reassuring myself with the thought that Scary’s an idiot, but he’s got solid backup in this poll and others like it.

When he mentioned the sun had just ejected a massive coronal flare, now speeding toward our little planet, with the potential to duplicate the Carrington Super Flare of 1859, I got really worried and started trying to distract myself with various projects, some of which ended badly.

Scary seemed to be enjoying the idea of all our electronics getting fried despite his reliance on the TV to bring him shows like Dexter and Breaking Bad. His contemplation of disaster seemed even more enjoyable because it freaked me out, my fellow inebriates. I even forgot about my DTs for a while.

And then the brilliant Christine showed up with her canvas bag and effectively banished all thoughts of Armageddon. There was no one in the world I would rather have seen at that moment, and what’s more, Scary vamoosed (being afraid of women), taking with him all notions of solar ejecta and electromagnetic havoc.

Which left us free to do the LBHQ Gin Shoot-Out in peace.

Although Christine had brought Scotch, cask-aged beer, red wine, and a honey hefeweizen, she was perfectly game to get into the gin first. We decided to be scientific and sample the different brands two ways:

  • straight up
  • in identically prepared G&Ts

I’d been envisioning a tableful of gin—seven varieties, perhaps, especially because it was my dad’s birthday—but encroaching old age hadn’t helped my dad find his gin-drinking inner child; nor had the attainment of 47 years triggered the sort of midlife crisis makes a man rush out and blow his whole paycheque on gin. So I had to settle for three brands:

  • GILBEY’S LONDON DRY GIN ($11.88/375mL)
  • GORDON’S LONDON DRY GIN ($12.69/375mL)


This is a Canadian product my parents told me I couldn’t review unless I managed to get a free sample. But at $11.88 per 375mL, it represents the bottom shelf, and the Canadian bottom shelf at that, so they relented for the sake of contrast. For this, our first Gin Shoot-Out, we wanted three distinct tiers, and something needed to be at the bottom. Our other choice would have been a big jug of POTTER’S, also Canadian, but my parents didn’t want to pony up $36 for 1.14 litres. They said we wouldn’t want that much. Hellloooo???

Straight up

No two ways about it, GILBEY’S is rough. Jagged and pointy, front-end palate abuse with no backnote to speak of, the taste lacks not just subtlety but almost the entire array of flavors that make gin so famously nuanced. It’s a little like being shivved in the tongue, drinking this ragged stuff. Perhaps it would appeal to drinkers of cheap vodka with its lack of complexity and harsh edge. You couldn’t possibly get down a martini made with GILBEY’S, not unless you were very committed to drinking that martini. I would do it, of course, but only if I didn’t have GORDON’S and BOMBAY SAPPHIRE winking at me from across the table.

Gin & Tonic

GILBEY’S is much more tolerable with tonic and a big squeeze of lime. But it’s still edgy—sort of like chewing tinfoil or being yelled at. I thought it was okay, and I would do it again.


We’re already fans of GORDON’S at LBHQ; it won us over just last week. The best-selling gin in the world and James Bond’s gin of choice, GORDON’S is a solid, traditional gin.

Straight up

Back to back against GILBEY’S, a straight sip of GORDON’S provides a flood of juniper-infused relief. On the tongue it expands with complexity, although citrus and juniper jump to the foreground. Highly sippable, GORDON’S would make an admirable martini.

Gin & Tonic

Ahhhhhh! Yes! This is what GORDON’S was made to do. With its firm citrus backbone and juniper chorus, GORDON’S owns the gin & tonic. Its personality punches through the tonic nicely and coordinates well with a lime twist. Maybe we’re all primed to delight in a GORDON’S G&T because so many bars mix with GORDON’S by default, but none of us were disappointed by its generously layered flavors. What Christine said about gin in general, “It tastes like more,” couldn’t have been more true with a gin like GORDON’S.


We haven’t had this at LBHQ for many years. My mum grew up with BEEFEATER, practically the antithesis of BOMBAY SAPPHIRE and famous for clobbering the drinker with not unwelcome lashings of juniper. BOMBAY SAPPHIRE strives to be more delicate: a premium but still affordable gin with a more floral profile. As such we expected it to win the martini category but possibly not the G&T category, because its subtle notes might get lost in a mixer.

Straight up

Ahhhhhh! Yes, indeed, BOMBAY SAPPHIRE tinkles across the tongue with delightful botanical essences, none outstripping the others. Of the three gins, BOMBAY SAPPHIRE is the lightest and most playful sipper. With just a whisper of vermouth it would make a perfect martini.

Gin & Tonic

Here we found ourselves divided. My mum thought her BOMBAY G&T was divine; Christine liked hers but preferred GORDON’S; and my dad departed from all reason, describing his BOMBAY G&T as “dusty.” What he meant by that I couldn’t pry out of him. I live in a house full of synaesthetes who don’t know how to describe flavors except in terms of sounds/colors/textures, and I guessed, when my dad said “dusty,” that he was applying some sort of metaphor—that perhaps a G&T made with BOMBAY SAPPHIRE felt venerable somehow; perhaps it threw him back to a past life in which he was a British colonial pounding tonic for its anti-malarial quinine and getting pissed on gin as a side effect. But he said he meant it literally—that it tasted like dust. So I guess we have to take my dad to the doctor.

Results of the Shoot-Out

Here’s the breakdown (lowest being best):

  1. most favorite
  2. second favorite
  3. least favorite

Resoundingly, the bottom-tier gin got waxed in the Shoot-Out. But the whole exercise illustrates the law of diminishing returns. Once you get past the bottom shelf (which, with a mickey, it costs about a dollar to do), you enter a realm of highly competitive products, the best of which often comes down to subjective tastes. For the 375mL size, the three products we reviewed were about a dollar apart. At $11.88 GILBEY’S got trounced. At 76 cents more, GORDON’S represented a whole other echelon. But adding $1.30 for BOMBAY SAPPHIRE didn’t make a significant difference; it was almost a toss-up, with GORDON’S emerging the winner by one point.

Whether this will play out with three other gins, we just can’t know. We can’t know until we do it. But there’s a Shoot-Out Part Deux in the future. If Scarybear’s ideas about global annihilation are wrong and there is a future.

Photo: Reuters/NASA