Excessive Heat has got me Beat: time for a pink drink!

Heat has got me Beat | Illustration: Lesley Scoble

Hot sun
has got me beat
It’s no fun
Smelting melting sweltering heat
Dripping slipping flipping sweat
Hot hot hot hot
Is not not not
What I want!

Sweat running funnelling
rivulets down my back
No where is cool
Alas, alack!

No room in the fridge to join the others
Its already full of grandma’s brothers
The heat has got to me!
And I am dead

What’s that you said?
Have a drink
I think
I hear you say
Okay!
I’ll have a gin,
A pink!’
I say with a grin,

As long as it’s got ICE in it’

Lesley Scoble – August 2020

Gin

I don’t think I can recall ever drinking gin without ice in it. Unlike in artist Hogarth’s day when they liked to imbibe home, brewed gin neat—in substantial quantities!
The 18th century saw a taste for gin grow to epidemic proportions of drunkenness among the lower classes in the slums of London. The British government had banned imports of French wine! (Can you imagine, having no French wine?) The lack of wine led to an increasing popularity and demand for cheap gin and the consequent direness caused by overindulgence of said spirit.

William Hogarth’s Gin Lane

William Hogarth created the engraving called Gin Lane, to illustrate the problem of drunkenness and destitution rampaging through the impoverished classes living in the 18th century slums of London. They printed the picture to highlight the plight of drunkards and to help improve the conditions of the poor. 

Gin Lane’s publication helped raise awareness of the hapless lower classes. Highlighting the need for change. 

Hogarth also engraved a plate titled Beer Street, praising the virtues of beer compared to the evils of the lowly gin. Hogarth produced the pair of plates himself to conserve money for this social campaign.

Gin Lane 1751 by the artist William Hogarth 1697-1764

Gin Lane 1751 | William Hogarth 1697-1764

The verses written beneath the etching were written by William Hogarth’s friend, the Reverend James Townley.

Gin Lane

Gin cursed Fiend, with Fury fraught,
Makes human Race a Prey,
It enters by a deadly Draught,
And steals our Life away.

Virtue and Truth, driv’n to Despair.
It’s Rage compells to fly,
But cherishes, with hellish Care,
Theft, Murder, Perjury.

Damn’d Cup! That on the Vitals preys.
That liquid Fire contains
Which Madness to the Heart conveys,
And rolls it thro’ the Veins.

Reverend James Townley

Are you now well and truly warned about the evil excesses of gin? 

Do not let that dispirit you! If you drink with care, you can avoid becoming a drunken subject of a modern-day Hogarth—or suffering a hangover!

My First Pink Gin

My first pink gin was a sundowner at a little bar high upon a Mediterranean cliff top. The terrace bar offered a view that I shall never forget. I sipped the ice cold drink, gazing at the amazing setting sun over a deep mazarine blue sea under a blushing sky that was the same hue as the pink gin in my glass. In fact, it imbued the entire scene with the tint of pink gin. Ever since then, I always associate the drink with warmth and a setting sun. Drinking water is, of course, very important to quench your thirst (as we all know), but I’ve always had a partiality for pink gin. I think, it must be something to do with the colour!

It is some years since I sipped my first pink gin. The night was warm, and the bar was on a Majorcan cliff top. I am a long way from the Med today. However, I find myself on a hot tropical evening, in a bar in Old Change, near St Paul’s Cathedral, London. The temperature is the same despite the scenery being different.
The day is scorching and we are all attempting to keep cool with a cocktail that is a variation on the theme of pink gin. 
It is of utmost importance to keep up your levels of regular liquid intake during hot weather (I’m not arguing with that!)

London Pink Gin Cocktail involving a combination of elderflower botanicals, apple cordial, Fentiman’s Rose Lemonade, lemon, and of course, ice!

I snapped this photo of our drinks on one of the hottest days I have ever known! It was at least 35°!

Pink London Gin Cocktail | Photo: Lesley Scoble

Sips of the delicious concoction are to the accompaniment of sounds of the dongs and bongs of the bells of St Pauls’s close by—and to the unusual sight of a small colony of starlings enjoying ripe figs on a fig tree. Ripe figs? I am astonished to see ripe figs In London. Well, I never! I’ve never seen that before.

Starlings | Photos: Lesley Scoble

Starlings are back in the town! They have of late been few. In the past, thousands of these extraordinary birds filled the sky at dusk in murmurations around the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral, but today, their numbers have plummeted to the depth that places this beautiful bird on the endangered red list.

This amazing bird is now red listed. Since the 1970s, the UK starling population has plummeted—and the decline in soil invertebrates may be the primary cause.

It is such a joy to watch this small chirpy colony of starlings eating ripe figs here in the City.
Seeing these happy intelligent birds has cheered me enormously. I do hope they thrive and increase in number.

How to Make a Classic Pink Gin

  • Bitters is an important element of Pink Gin — it is an alcoholic ingredient of herbs and citrus (Angostura bitters is probably the most well known). *also used as a hangover cure!
  • Add a few dashes of the bitters into your glass of favourite brand of gin. The bitters are the drink’s seasoning condiment to add to taste. Two to three dashes per 50ml measure is recommended, and probably enough, as it is of strong concentration and you wouldn’t want to over do it! ( I suppose if you add too much you could always add more gin to dilute!but probably not advised, ahem)
  • Mix the gin and the bitters well with a ‘bar spoon’ (or fork, or twig, or finger if lacking a bar spoon!) and pour into a glass of ice cubes.
  • Add a twist/slice of lemon and there you have it! Easy!

*Try not to consume too much of it! Even though it is very nice! You don’t want to end up like some character in Hogarth’s Gin Lane do you!?
Drink responsibly. And make sure you drink good old H2O to quench your thirst.

Chin-chin! Bottoms up! And cheers!

Keep cool and stay safe – and stay in the pink!

Weather update: at the time of going to press the temperature in London has returned to a more normal comfortable level in the 20° degrees zone – but there is currently a howling gale which has broken the tomato plants that were laden with ripening tomatoes (encouraged by recent hot weather that I’ve been complaining about!) growing on our small balcony! So, do not be a little surprised if my next blog isn’t about excessive wind!

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