Gin & Tonic: Spain’s Obsession, Despite the Recession

Gin and Tonic

SRapallo, Strawberry G&T II, watercolor, 2017
SRapallo, Strawberry G&T II, watercolor, 2017

You probably always thought Gin and Tonic was just another kind of drink, right? Just put gin, tonic and some lime, right? Yeah, me too, but not in Spain. You even may think that is definitely not the most exciting cocktail you ever tried, but once again, not in Spain. In Spain the casual G&T is practically an art form, as bartenders pays attention to which gins they use with which tonics, and add thoughtful garnishes and thick ice cubes, serving the drink in goblets. They have entire booklets for G&T on bars, you can even get lost trying to choose one recipe over the other. Literally every bar you go into, from a cocktail bar to a crappy little sports bar, had 25 to 30 gins.

To write this post I made a little research over the subject and found out they have 65 types of gins, but only 5 types of tonics. There are not a ton of different tonics on the market in Spain. They have a dozen or so different tonics and a lot of companies make them. But most bars make their own tonic syrup and carbonated it. They are also very picky about the ice too. Just not any type of ice… no, most fancy bars just use Kold-Draft. Because the idea is that you want larger, denser ice with less air trapped in there, so it melts slower. It keeps the drink colder longer and there’s less dilution, which is ideal for something you’ll be sipping on.

They also have special Gin Clubs where you can choose from more than 40 gin brands paired up with their own trimmings. You can take it into infinity and beyond. It is refreshing, not overly sweet, and easy to drink. But in my case, just one drink for the night, the second G&T normally gives me a brutal headache the day after. But like the Spanish after discovering that G&T is much more than a normal and even boring drink served in plastic cups, it’s safe to say I had never tasted the true potential of this glorious convergence of grain and bubbles. Sounds even poetic.

The recipes are endless, from juniper berries, verbena, edible flower, black pepper, strawberry, cucumber, lime and lemon of course, but also orange, herbs like rosemary, chili and quinine, rhubarb, celery, melon, raspberry and thyme. You can be insanely creative on Gin & Tonic. Enough talking, let´s have a drink!!!! Here a simple strawberry gin tonic I prepared. I must say it was a pleasure night, preparing the post, making the G&T, photographing it, drawing and painting it and sipping my G&T while listening nice music. Jazz, of course!

Strawberry G&T

SRapallo, Strawberry GT, watercolor, 2017
SRapallo, Strawberry GT, watercolor, 2017

Ingredients

3 strawberries
18 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 12 oz. navy-strength gin
4 oz. tonic
Cinnamon stick

Instructions

Muddle 2 strawberries and ⅛ tsp. freshly ground black pepper in a shaker; pour into an ice-filled goblet. Stir in 1½ oz. navy-strength gin. Top with 4 oz. tonic; garnish with a strawberry and cinnamon stick.
If life give you lemons, make a Gin & Tonic.

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London Pea Soup

SRapallo, Pea Soup
SRapallo, Pea Soup, watercolor, 2017.

London Pea Soup

 

Today’s prompt on World Watercolor Group is “Hazy”. Good for learning and training a new technique or at least some reflection over the theme. For this challenging subject I choose the fatal episode in England’s History to illustrate the effect of a green smoked lethal Londonian incident  that happened in 1952 called, later on, “pea soup”… because of the greenish color of the sky. Ugh!!! Chimney’s are charming but they can also be dangerous if combined with other climate factors. |That thick, greasy, grimy fog descended on the city and killed 12,000 people in four days. A blanket of soot hung over the streets so thickly that visibility was reduced to a couple of yards or less.

Pea soup, or a pea souper, also known as a black fog, killer fog or smog is a very thick and often yellowish, greenish, or blackish fog caused by air pollution that contains soot particulates and the poisonous gas sulfur dioxide. This very thick smog occurs in cities and is derived from the smoke given off by the burning of soft coal for home heating and in industrial processes. Smog of this intensity is often lethal to vulnerable people such as the elderly, the very young and those with respiratory problems. The result of these phenomena was commonly known as a London particular or London fog, which then, in a reversal of the idiom, became the name for a thick pea and ham soup.[1]

From as early as the 1200s,[2][3] air pollution became increasingly prevalent, and a predominant perception in the thirteenth century was that sea-coal smoke would affect one’s health.[4][5] From the mid-1600s, in UK cities, especially London, the incidence of ill-health was attributed to coal smoke from domestic chimneys and industry combining with the mists and fogs of the Thames Valley.[6] Luke Howard, a pioneer in urban climate studies, published The Climate of London in 1818–20, in which he uses the term ‘city fog’ and describes the heat island effect which concentrated the accumulation of smog over the city.[7]

In 1880 Francis Albert Rollo Russell, son of the former Prime Minister Lord John Russell, published a leaflet that blamed home hearth, rather than factory, smoke for damaging the city’s important buildings, depriving vegetation of sunlight, and increasing the expense and effort of laundering clothes. Furthermore he charged the ‘perpetually present’ sulphurous smoke with increasing bronchitis and other respiratory diseases. More than 2000 Londoners had ‘literally choked to death’, he wrote, on account of ‘a want of carefulness in preventing smoke in our domestic fires’ which emitted coal smoke from ‘more than a million chimneys’ that when combined with the prolonged fogs of late January and early February 1880, fatally aggravated pre-existing lung conditions and was ‘more fatal than the slaughter of many a great battle’.[8][9][10]

The most lethal incidence of this smog in London occurred in 1952 and resulted in the Clean Air Act 1956 and Clean Air Act 1968, both now repealed and consolidated into the Clean Air Act 1993 which were effective in largely removing sulphur dioxide and coal smoke, the causes of pea-soup fog, though these have been replaced by less visible pollutants that derive from vehicles in urban areas.[11]

Source: Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pea_soup_fog#cite_note-11 and Daily Mail:  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2243732/Pea-souper-killed-12-000-So-black-screen-cinemas-So-suffocatingly-lethal-ran-coffins-How-Great-Smog-choked-London-60-years-ago-week.html

SRapallo, Londonian
SRapallo, Londonian, watercolor and Indian ink, 2017.

Playlist: Pink Floyd REDUX, A New Experience

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Coffea

 For the sake of Coffee – Pelo bem do Café

SRapallo, Before & After Coffee
SRapallo, Before & After Coffee, watercolor, Madrid, 2017.

I´m absolutely fan of coffee, since infancy.  Well, Brazil is a coffee country and I remember that scenting the smell of strong coffee in the mornings at home was one of the best memories I have. I love everything about coffee: that comfort smell, the beautiful dark brownish/blackish color and the strong and vibrant taste of coffee.

Coffee is appreciated in many different ways in different countries. The Brazilians love dark short coffee, not frothy… but with sugar (Ugh… I hate it!). The Americans love something that tastes like coffee but it´s large and watery like tea,  Italians love extremely strong coffee called ristretto usually with cannoli, English people like tea, not coffee. French people like coffee too – no milk, maybe sugar – from a bowl. There is something great about grabbing a bowl with both hands and plunging your face into it. They like to take their coffee with a tartine, a piece of toasted baguette topped with butter and lumps of homemade jam.  And they love to dip it into the coffee, something that I used to love when I was a child.

Here in Spain, it´s a mess… they have so many names for coffee, considering the right amount of coffee and milk: café solo (espresso) very strong –  I mean unbearable!… I called it ¨caffeine shot¨  and it is as stronger as the regular Italian ristretto; café cortado is called so because the shot of espresso is “cut” with some steamed milk—but only some, as there’s more coffee than milk; café con leche is equal parts espresso and steamed milk, this is the best of both worlds; café manchado (“stained coffee”) is kind of confusing, because it’s really a cortado that has been stained with milk. But this coffee is more appropriately leche manchada (“stained milk”) because this drink is mostly steamed milk with a little bit of espresso, not quite an entire shot. Very milky with a little coffee flavor, this is for you folks who like to drink coffee but don’t actually like coffee and finally café americano, you add hot water to a shot of espresso.

If you crave coffee means you are Despresso…Desperate for a Espresso! If you know how to  make fancy types of coffee, then you are a Barista,… I´m a Certified Barista, BTW. I took classes some years ago, in Brazil. But nowadays a just press a button and get my coffee immediately. But I love gadgets and I have some of them to prepare stylish coffee if I´m in a mood.

If you like coffee or not it does not matter… but I invite you to watch 3 short movies about coffee a photographic journey through coffee growing countries, by Sebastião Salgado.

SALGADO: “SCENT OF A DREAM”, A JOURNEY IN THE COFFEE WORLD

http://www.illy.com/wps/wcm/connect/en/art/sebastiao-salgado

Playlist: Wake Up and Smell the Coffee on Spotify

______________

(Portuguese)

Sou fã de café desde que era pequena. Brasil é um grande produtor de café e o cheiro forte de café banhando a casa pela manhã é uma das melhores memórias que eu tenho de infância. Eu gosto de tudo que tem no café; o cheiro de café forte, a cor amaronzada e negra e seu gosto forte e vibrante. Brasileiros gostam de café puro, sem creme… mas, com açúcar (Huh… Detesto!). Norte-americanos gostam de algo parecido a café, mas a quantidade é demasiada e muito diluído, algo parecido com chá, italianos gostam de café forte, chamado ristretto e geralmente acompanhado de cannoli, ingleses não gostam muito de café, preferem chá. Franceses gostam muito de café largo, não muito aguado como os norte-americanos – sem leite, talvez com um pouco de açúcar – numa caneca bem grande. Existe algo nostálgico em se beber café com as duas mãos e quase que colocar a cara inteira dentro da xícara. A razão pela qual a xícara é grande é porque eles adoram molhar o pão com manteiga e geléia (tartine) na xícara. Uma coisa que eu adorava fazer quando era pequena, molhar o pão com manteiga no café com leite.

Aqui na Espanha, é uma confusão para acertar exatamente que tipo e quantidade de café vc quer. O tradicional Espresso é simplesmente fortíssimo… imbebível! Costumo chamá-lo de ¨shot de cafeína¨, tão forte quanto o ristretto italiano. Café cortado é chamado assim por causa do corte de leite que se dá no café – mas a proporção continua sendo mais café do que leite; café con leche  são partes iguais de café e leite, o melhor dos mundos; café manchado (“stained coffee”)  é confuso, parecidíssimo com o café cortado, ou o manchado com leite. Para mim são sinônimos; e temos ainda a leche manchada (“stained milk”) que é o inverso: leite morna manchada com café, acrescentando café até que fique na cor que o freguês gosta; e finalmente, café americano, em que se acrescenta água quente, diluindo o espresso, até que fique ao gosto do freguês.

Se vc está com abstinência de café diz-se que vc está Despresso…Desesperado por um Espresso! – Bom, essa piadinha não pega bem em Português. Se vc sabe preparar diversos tipos de café então vc é um Barista,… Eu sou uma Barista, por falar nisso. Fiz o curso há alguns anos atrás, no Brasil. Mas hoje em dia  eu simplesmente aperto um botão para saborear um café. Mas como adoro acessórios baristas, tenho alguns para poder preparar um café com mais estilo se estiver com vontade.

Se vc gosta ou não de café, pouco importa, mas eu o convido para assistir 3 curta metragens muito bonitos sobre os países produtores de café, um ensaio do fotógrafo Sebastião Salgado.

SALGADO: “O CHEIRO DE UM SONHO”, UMA JORNADA NO MUNDO DO CAFÉ

http://www.illy.com/wps/wcm/connect/en/art/sebastiao-salgado

Trilha sonora: Wake Up and Smell the Coffee  – Spotify

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