I have recently rekindled a relationship with an old friend. We parted way a few years back when an unexpected event drove us apart. I tried hard to forgive him and move on, but to no avail. I am happy to report that Ernest and I have picked right back up where we left off (more or less). And, lucky for this post, I found a source of inspiration.
Islands in the Stream, a book my sister lent me and I haven’t returned, was Hemingway’s last book. As I’ve been re-reading it, I realized I had forgotten how well he wrote about food. I’ll admit, I’m a little jealous at his ability to describe meals and the emotions food tends to invoke. I was especially intrigued about a drink he describes in Islands in the Stream:
“Thomas Hudson took a sip of the ice-cold drink that tasted of the fresh green lime juice mixed with the tasteless coconut water that was still so much more full-bodied than any charged water, strong with the real Gordon’s gin that made it alive to his tongue and rewarding to swallow, and all of it tautened by the bitters that gave it color. It tastes as good as drawing sail feels, he thought. It is a hell of a good drink.”
He never named the drink, but I knew right away my mission would be to replicate this long lost beverage and share it with the world.
I went in search of “Gordon’s gin,” starting at one my my yuppy-ish neighborhood liquor stores. To my disappointment, they had never heard of it. Same thing at the next liquor store. Maybe I should have done some research beforehand…what if, fifty years later, Gordon’s no longer existed?! Despondently, I headed into one final liquor store, on I would normally never set foot into. But I was desperate. And there it was, on the lowest shelf in a plastic bottle. Gordon’s London Dry Gin. Apparently I was giving Hemingway and his protagonist way too much credit fro drinking the nice stuff. Figures.
Here is where I go uber-nerdy. My friends, Brian and Leah, agreed to assist me in duplicating Hemingway’s drink. We created an experiment in which we would only alter one variable at a time. I recorded the proportions of each trial, as well as comments, reactions, random notes, and future strategies. Like I said, uber-nerdy.
The final recipe below has to deviations from Hemingway’s ingredients: Bombay gin and mint. Both of these rounded out the flavors to make a drink worth of the classic American author.
Island in the Stream
- 2 part Bombay gin (or any Dry London Gin…like Gordon’s)
- 2 part coconut water
- 1/2 part lime
- 3-4 drops bitters (regular, not flavored)
- 6-7 leaves of mint
- Garnish: sprigs of mint and slice of lime
1. Combine first 4 ingredients in a shaker with a few cubes of ice.
2. Bruise the mint by twisting it in your fingers. Add mint to the shaker.
3. Put lid on the shaker.
4. Shake the shaker, vigorously.
5. Pour contents of the shaker over ice, garnish (optional), and serve immediately.