Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Trollied Tuesday: the experts' view

Apparently there is some sort of public holiday later this week. Some of you may, therefore, be more inclined than usual to enjoy a breakfast time drink such as champagne, special brew or the bloody mary.

It is with regard to the last of these that I wish to pass on a tip I picked up. I do not propose to get into the philosophical wranglings about the ideal manner in which this vodka and tomato juice combination should be pepped up. We all have our ideas and preferences - I like mine well spiced - however, there is always room to experiment.


I should say that my source on this one is well-night unimpeachable, for it is no less an authority than Kingsley Amis in Everyday Drinking. The man writes with authority (the introduction by another world-class drunkard, Christopher Hitchens, lends weight to the volume too); it would therefore be a fool who disregards any advice given in his book.

So imagine my reaction when flicking through this invaluable guide and discovering his advice for making a bloody mary: add a dash of ketchup. How trashy, I thought, vulgar too: a lazy short cut that is quite probably improper and immoral besides. I tried it at the first opportunity.

As the man himself noted, the ketchup makes a profound difference to the drink in ways that are difficult to explain unless you have tried it. I am not sure I can much to this advice, except to say that it is true. It is not so much that it gives the other flavours greater weight, though it does, but a more profound process is at work too. Perhaps it is best explained as a sort of alchemical process that transforms a vigorous pick-me-up into something that spreads warmth and joy - both physical and spiritual - through the system.

It transforms the other ingredients: the tomatos are more tomatoey; the alcohol more stimulating, the spices more invigorating. One feels that it provokes a greater wit, benevolence and intellect in oneself. Try it, I urge you.

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