Nordes Gin

I don’t do as much reading during golf majors – this Thursday-Sunday is The Open Championship – so I thought I’d sub in a gin mention instead. It’s not quite a recommendation, more an attempt at settling my own thoughts of one I discovered a few weeks back – Nordes Gin.

Here’s the bottle description:

Nordes is a Galician gin inspired by the eponymous fresh northerly Atlantic wind. Made using pomace from Albarino grapes, the botanicals include juniper, ginger, hibiscus and liquorice, resulting in a unique and intriguing gin.

And the 3/5 review from the site I tend to use for my gin discoveries.

Hesitant review notwithstanding, there’s something enjoyable here, if only for the uniqueness. I can confirm that the gin doesn’t hold up with tonic, negronis, martinis, or shaken+filtered chilling (where somehow it acquires the fuzzy transparency of ouzo). In all of the above it’s either hidden or flat soapy. But if you take it straight and chilled – with maybe an ice cube or dash of cold water – it’ll come out as one of the more unique floral flavors you’re likely to find. Eucalyptus remains the strongest element to me – and I can’t shake the smell of my shower gel – but I also get a lot of hibiscus along the way and mint in the conclusion. For the £30/$40 price it feels worth the gamble.

Liquor power rankings

Last Saturday evening I found myself 1 scotch cocktail, 1 madeira, 1 calvados, and 1 gin deep – a situation for which the blues provided no applicable song – and felt compelled to compile my personal liquor power rankings.  My determining elements were simply 1)what do I always need on stock and 2)what do I, in self-managed settings, refuse to mix.  My labored results:

1 – Gin – My top is the duty-free exclusive Roku Select – which has more sakura and ends up a bit sweeter than the normal.  Sipsmith takes the honorable mention as winner of the traditionals.

2 – Pear brandy – Massenez or Trimbach, though the slightly softer Massenez probably edges out.  No pear taking up half the bottle.

3 – Calvados – I like Pere Magloire V.S.O.P or XO but I’ve yet to test most of the pricier options.  Chauffe-Coeur VSOP is what I was drinking the other night.

4 – Mezcal – I prefer the Mezcal Vago line’s yearly variable Ensamble en Barro releases.  But the variability makes this an internally contentious issue.

5 – Armagnac – Chateau du Busca.

I cheated by excluding Amari and Chartreuse.  Amari are too difficult to classify but my winners are Varnelli’s Dell’Erborista and Casoni’s Del Ciclista.  Chartreuse I love, keep several liters of, but have never learned to touch by itself.


Dying for a worthy cause

I’ve just finished Will Hunt’s Underground: A Human History of the Worlds Beneath Our Feet.  I can’t recommend him for style or fertility of thought but his anecdotes are charming and his enthusiasm endearing.  I do wish someone – his editor? or his internal censor? – had not counselled him to cultivate/falsify a reflective voice.  Will seems a doer, not a thinker.  And, despite the mandates of MFA-stylings, it’s always best to be ourselves and trust our truths will come out better in authenticity than in fashionable narrative structures.  I also wish he’d learn to cite sources, caption photos, and – a personal quibble – stop quoting Annie Dillard (twice is twice too much for a straw puppet).  But I like where his interests trend and among the more interesting things I took away is this tale:

I decided to go down into the catacombs in order to retrace the path of an eighteenth-century man who, as it happened, had famously entered the quarries and be come lost.  In 1793, Philibert Aspairt – a man in his sixties, who worked as the guard at the Val-de-Grace hospital – had descended underground on a quest to find the cellar of a nearby convent, which was said to contain a secret cache of very fine chartreuse.  Aspair lost his bearing, and eleven years later his corpse was found in an alcove beneath the boulevard Saint-Michel.  A memorial tomb stone was installed on the spot were he fell.

In the few minutes I’m generally willing to give to passing topics I couldn’t find a consistent account of Aspairt’s death.  Everyone now knows him as the patron saint of the catacomb explorers – les cataphiles – but they disagree over the motives for his adventure.  One site – whose content  I choose to trust based solely on their comforting 90’s aesthetics – phrases his quest as the Proustian ‘à la recherche de quelque trésor (solide ou liquide)‘.  Observing the de mortuis nil nisi bonum principle I therefore opt for Hunt’s version of a man in (holy) quest of (Green) Chartreuse.

The Normand hole and a kick in the ass – some more occasional drinking terms

In the spirit of yesterday’s deoc an doruis and by happy coincidence here are a few other terms of drinking interest I ran across today in a collection of Guy de Maupassant stories, Contes de la Becasse:

From Farce Normande:

Between each course everyone made a hole – the Normand hole – with a glass of (apple) brandy which flung fire in the body and madness in the mind.

Entre chaque plat on faisait un trou, le trou normand, avec un verre d’eau-de-vie qui jetait du feu dans le corps et de la folie dans les têtes.

I’m honestly at a loss on how to put this in English since the relevant phrase – le trou normand – is literally just ‘the Normand hole’.  It refers to a drink taken between courses in the hope of facilitating digestion/dulling the senses just enough that you can keep going for the next.  Eau-de-vie in the Normand context has to be apple brandy (Calvados)

From Les Sabots:

She went to find a cup, sat down again, tasted the black liquor [coffee], made a grimace, but, under the master’s furious eye, drank it down to the bottom.  Then they had to drink the first glass of (apple) brandy for the rinse, the second for the followup-rinse, and the third for a kick in the ass.

Elle alla chercher une tasse, se rassit, goûta la noire liqueur, fit la grimace, mais, sous l’œil furieux du maître, avala jusqu’au bout.Puis il lui fallut boire le premier verre d’eau-de-vie de la rincette, le second du pousse-rincette, et le troisième du coup-de-pied-au-cul.

Rincette is defined as the ‘little bit of liqueur poured in a cup after drinking coffee’

Pousse-rincette is, here, simply the followup to the first rinse.  The term seems more generally a synonym for the rincette – it is closer to the contemporary pousse-café.

Coup-de-pied-au-cul is literally ‘a kick in the ass.’  I can’t tell if this is a witticism of Maupassant’s or a legitimate Normand phrase now lost to use.





Let us have another one as a deoc an doruis

From A Little Cloud in James Joyce’s Dubliners:

“And to clinch the bargain,” said Little Chandler, “we’ll just have one more now.”

Ignatius Gallaher took out a large gold watch and looked at it.

“Is it to be the last?” he said. “Because you know, I have an a.p.”

“O, yes, positively,” said Little Chandler.

“Very well, then,” said Ignatius Gallaher, “let us have another one as a deoc an doruis—that’s good vernacular for a small whisky, I believe.”

Don Gifford’s Joyce Annotated gives this as – “Irish: (literally) a door-drink; one for the road.”  The Scottish version is Deoch an doris (drink of the door).

There’s also a French variant which I’ve never encountered except in books – le coup de l’étrier – literally ‘drink/glass of the stirrup.’  Huysmans uses it in ch. 11 of À Rebours: “Voyons, fit-il, pour se verser du courage, buvons le coup de l’étrier; et il remplit un verre de brandy, tout en réclamant sa note.”

The Italian version – which I’ve heard used but as something closer to English nightcap – is an exact equivalent of the French – Bicchiere della staffa

The religious system that produced green Chartreuse can never really die.

From Saki’s short story Reginald On Christmas Presents:

Personally, I can’t see where the difficulty in choosing suitable presents lies. No boy who had brought himself up properly could fail to appreciate one of those decorative bottles of liqueurs that are so reverently staged in Morel’s window–and it wouldn’t in the least matter if one did get duplicates. And there would always be the supreme moment of dreadful uncertainty whether it was creme de menthe or Chartreuse–like the expectant thrill on seeing your partner’s hand turned up at bridge. People may say what they like about the decay of Christianity; the religious system that produced green Chartreuse can never really die.


Encircle your heart with twenty glasses of wine

From Moliere’s Sganarelle ou Le Cocu Imaginaire (lines 229-240)


Yes, but a good dinner will be vital for you to clear up this business, Monsieur. And through it your heart – without a doubt – will become all the stronger to resist attacks of this kind. I judge by myself. When I am hungry the smallest displeasure takes hold of me, lays me out flat; But when I have eaten well, my spirit is ready for everything. The greatest setbacks will not overcome it. Believe me, stuff yourself and show no reserve. Against the blows Fortune can bring upon you and to close yourself against the entry of grief, encircle your heart with twenty glasses of wine

Oui ; mais un bon repas vous serait nécessaire
Pour s’aller éclaircir, Monsieur, de cette affaire,
Et votre coeur sans doute en deviendrait plus fort
Pour pouvoir résister aux attaques du sort.
J’en juge par moi-même, et la moindre disgrâce
Lorsque je suis à jeun, me saisit, me terrasse ;
Mais quand j’ai bien mangé, mon âme est ferme à tout,
Et les plus grands revers n’en viendraient pas à bout.
Croyez-moi, bourrez-vous et sans réserve aucune,
Contre les coups que peut vous porter la fortune,
Et, pour fermer chez vous l’entrée à la douleur,
De vingt verres de vin entourez votre coeur.

And malt does more than Milton can to justify God’s ways to man

Quoted misleadingly out of context from From A.E. Housman’s A Shropshire Lad:

LXII – Terence, this is stupid stuff

‘TERENCE, this is stupid stuff:
You eat your victuals fast enough;
There can’t be much amiss, ’tis clear,
To see the rate you drink your beer.
But oh, good Lord, the verse you make, 5
It gives a chap the belly-ache.
The cow, the old cow, she is dead;
It sleeps well, the horned head:
We poor lads, ’tis our turn now
To hear such tunes as killed the cow. 10
Pretty friendship ’tis to rhyme
Your friends to death before their time
Moping melancholy mad:
Come, pipe a tune to dance to, lad.’

Why, if ’tis dancing you would be, 15
There’s brisker pipes than poetry.
Say, for what were hop-yards meant,
Or why was Burton built on Trent?
Oh many a peer of England brews
Livelier liquor than the Muse, 20
And malt does more than Milton can
To justify God’s ways to man.
Ale, man, ale’s the stuff to drink
For fellows whom it hurts to think:
Look into the pewter pot 25
To see the world as the world’s not.
And faith, ’tis pleasant till ’tis past:
The mischief is that ’twill not last.
Oh I have been to Ludlow fair
And left my necktie God knows where, 30
And carried half way home, or near,
Pints and quarts of Ludlow beer:
Then the world seemed none so bad,
And I myself a sterling lad;
And down in lovely muck I’ve lain, 35
Happy till I woke again.
Then I saw the morning sky:
Heigho, the tale was all a lie;
The world, it was the old world yet,
I was I, my things were wet, 40
And nothing now remained to do
But begin the game anew.

Therefore, since the world has still
Much good, but much less good than ill,
And while the sun and moon endure 45
Luck’s a chance, but trouble’s sure,
I’d face it as a wise man would,
And train for ill and not for good.
’Tis true, the stuff I bring for sale
Is not so brisk a brew as ale: 50
Out of a stem that scored the hand
I wrung it in a weary land.
But take it: if the smack is sour,
The better for the embittered hour;
It should do good to heart and head 55
When your soul is in my soul’s stead;
And I will friend you, if I may,
In the dark and cloudy day.

There was a king reigned in the East:
There, when kings will sit to feast, 60
They get their fill before they think
With poisoned meat and poisoned drink.
He gathered all that springs to birth
From the many-venomed earth;
First a little, thence to more, 65
He sampled all her killing store;
And easy, smiling, seasoned sound,
Sate the king when healths went round.
They put arsenic in his meat
And stared aghast to watch him eat; 70
They poured strychnine in his cup
And shook to see him drink it up:
They shook, they stared as white’s their shirt:
Them it was their poison hurt.
—I tell the tale that I heard told. 75
Mithridates, he died old.

The reference is to Milton’s proem and invocation in Book 1 of Paradise Lost

OF Mans First Disobedience, and the Fruit
Of that Forbidden Tree, whose mortal tast
Brought Death into the World, and all our woe,
With loss of Eden, till one greater Man
Restore us, and regain the blissful Seat, [ 5 ]
Sing Heav’nly Muse, that on the secret top
Of Oreb, or of Sinai, didst inspire
That Shepherd, who first taught the chosen Seed,
In the Beginning how the Heav’ns and Earth
Rose out of Chaos: Or if Sion Hill [ 10 ]
Delight thee more, and Siloa’s Brook that flow’d
Fast by the Oracle of God; I thence
Invoke thy aid to my adventrous Song,
That with no middle flight intends to soar
Above th’ Aonian Mount, while it pursues [ 15 ]
Things unattempted yet in Prose or Rhime.
And chiefly Thou O Spirit, that dost prefer
Before all Temples th’ upright heart and pure,
Instruct me, for Thou know’st; Thou from the first
Wast present, and with mighty wings outspread [ 20 ]
Dove-like satst brooding on the vast Abyss
And mad’st it pregnant: What in me is dark
Illumin, what is low raise and support;
That to the highth of this great Argument
I may assert Eternal Providence, [ 25 ]
And justifie the wayes of God to men.

Ballads we sang, the wind in the pines

Another poem of Li Po – pg 151 in the Penguin Classics Li Po and Tu Fu, translated by Arthur Cooper.


At dusk I came down from the mountain,
The mountain moon as my companion,
And looked behind at tracks I’d taken
That were blue, blue below the skyline:
You took my arm, led me to your hut
Where small children drew hawthorn curtains
To green bamboos and a hidden path
With vines to brush the travellers’ clothes;
And I rejoiced at a place to rest
And good wine, too, to pour out with you:
Ballads we sang, the wind in the pines,
Till, our songs done, Milky Way had paled;
And I was drunk and you were merry,
We had gaily forgotten the world!

The Englishman swallowed the insult agreeably, but expostulated on the waste of good liquor

From Robert Graves’ Lars Porsena or the Future of Swearing and Improper Language

Undistinguished as the oath by St George has become, he has at any rate had the honour of outlasting all his peers…. Once in a public house a young Italian and a middle-aged Londoner were arguing politics.  The Italian paid a warm tribute to the Vatican and its works.  “Oh, to hell with the Pope!” remarked the Englishman.  “And to hell,” replied the furious Italian, upsetting the glasses with a blow of his fist, “and to hell with your Archbishop of Canterbury!”  The Englishman swallowed the insult agreeably, but expostulated on the waste of good liquor. (pg 7-8)