So there I was, a few minutes before the curtain was due to rise on "Fiddler" recently, ordering a gin and tonic. The young woman behind the cash register explained that the bartender had stepped away for a moment, but would be right back.
And he was. We chatted as he whipped together my order, then I turned to pay. That's when the cashier asked the bartender, "Ahhh, what's in a gin and tonic?"
I'm not sure, but I think I actually heard the sound of the bartender rolling his eyes when he responded, "Gin and tonic!"
Absolutely right. He did forget to mention the wedge of lime and the sprinkle of magic that makes this creation one of the most popular, refreshing mixed drinks around the world.
It's such a simple libation to pull together and yet it can be sabotaged so easily -- just a little too much ice, not enough gin, the wrong brand of tonic water. But take care of the details and your reward will be a drink that will tingle your taste buds and refresh your spirit.
I've spent years mixing and matching brands -- Tanqueray with Schweppes, Bombay Sapphire with Canada Dry; Hendrick's with Stirrings -- tweaking the booze versus tonic proportions, squeezing lime slices till my fingers ached, replacing the fresh fruit with frozen lime concentrate.
It's been grueling, dirty work. But, hey, someone had to do it. Then I spotted this recipe on foodnetwork.com. Works for me!
THE PERFECT GIN AND TONIC
3 ounces of Tanqueray; 5 ounces of Schweppes; a tablespoon of freshly squeezed lime juice; lime wedge for garnish. Place the ice cubes in a tall, narrow, chilled glass. Add the gin, then the tonic water, then the lime juice, stirring well. Garnish with lime wedge and serve immediately. If you have nothing better to do and want to take this baby right over the top, freeze an ice cube tray with tonic water and use the cubes when preparing your drink.
Now go sit out on your patio and put your feet up. Own Bill Murray's line from Groundhog Day and "say a small prayer for world peace". Then take a sip of that beverage in your hand and remember just how darn good life can be and how lucky you are to be alive.
Next week's recipe: Scotch, rocks!