Friday 31 December 2004

Happy New Year!

No longer living in Scotland, I no longer have to call it "Hogmanay", which I've always felt is a slightly silly word. I'm glad to escape the Scottish celebrations, too. I would never dispute that the Scots celebrate New Year better than anyone else in the world, but it's not for me. Perhaps it's because the vast majority of my years have been fairly shit that I am less than enthusiastic about the arrival of yet another one, or maybe I'm just irretrievably English. This year, however, has been so spectacularly bad, that, for once, I am looking forward to the next one. It is extraordinarily unlikely that it won't constitute at least a small improvement. So there will be a bit of optimistical celebrationing this evening. I still doubt I'm going to get drunk, though.

Tomorrow, on the other hand, is a big celebration: my mother-in-law's sixtieth. There'll be more people in her house than at any time since my wedding, with much food and drink. I will be in charge of one of my specialities: home-made Pimm's. Here I must stress that I do not know or claim to know what goes into real Pimm's, which I'm sure is a closely-guarded secret recipe. However, I do know how to make a drink that tastes — by sheer naked coincidence, their lawyers will no doubt insist — remarkably similar to Pimm's. I know my version must be at least slightly different, because it tastes better. In the traditional New Year spirit of enabling the drunkenness of others, here's the recipe.

  • 2 parts gin.

  • (Plymouth gin is by far the best. But you knew that.)

  • 2 parts red vermouth.

  • A little more than 1 part triple sec.

  • (According to its label, Cointreau is a type of triple sec. That may well be true, but don't use it; get some proper stuff which tastes a little less like a flamethrower.)

  • a dash of Angostura bitters.

Shake well. Add lemonade to taste. Throw in slices of lemon, lime, orange, and cucumber. The cucumber is just a weird English tradition; it seems to do nothing for the taste, but gives a good impression.

Using this recipe, you will find that you can get a roomful of people very drunk very cheaply, without any of them being aware at any stage that they are drinking anything particularly strong.

Have fun. See you next year.

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