I stare blankly at the bottle on the table. I fight hard to control the nausea washing over me like a tsunami. This, however, is no natural disaster; someone made a choice to buy this product. The consumer sovereign in all his regal glory has validated the hypothesis of the producer; this autonomous individual – and I fear others too – actively condoned this ‘vodka’s’ place in the market through their purchase. Moreover, the said individual is a friend, someone I voluntarily invite into my own home.
I watch transfixed as the girl pours herself a ‘generous’ measure and happily glugs away at the foul broth. It is a scene comparable to the vilest of internet freak-fests, those which occupy the attention of adolescent boys for hours on end while keeping them off the streets and ASBO free. I dare not let the liquid pass my lips but I muster up the courage to smell the bottle top. The pungent aroma of the spirit seeps through my nostrils and I fight the temptation to retch. It is the liquid incarnation of the plague, a heavy viscous potation most probably derived from the distilled by-products of the Chernobyl disaster.
In order to try and counter these worrying consumer trends, I have compiled a list of what I take to be acceptable pre-drinking fair.
Spending 30 odd quid on Belvedere is quite understandably hard to justify for the average student, those pesky gas bills certainly don’t pay themselves (though it must be noted that it is every students patriotic right not to pay water until the notification of an impending court appearance). Instead, opt for the mid range classics Stolichnaya (Tesco, 15.29) or Wyborowa (Oddbins, 12.99 down from £15.99).
Mother’s ruin, or gin as it is commonly known, is as quintessentially English as the monarchy and a deep seated distrust of class mobility. Though Gordon’s makes for a perfectly acceptable G&T, try the classic Plymouth (Tesco, £15.13) – the only gin with an appellation – if you’re of the martini persuasion. If you have a few of quid more to spend and prefer a more delicate gin, look into purchasing a bottle of Miller’s (Oddbins, £19.99)
Dark rum and apple juice is quickly becoming a modern classic for those that would traditionally order vodka cranberry’s but want to avoid being judged. The entry level Mount Gay (Tesco, £14.48) from Barbados is a great choice but make sure to use real, fresh apple juice unless you find the rank, boiled-sweet flavour of its synthetic counterparts particularly appealing.
Toast the absence of the iron lady with Thatcher’s favourite tipple scotch and soda. This drink makes for an excellent aperitif and perfectly complements pre dinner nibbles, illicit arms dealing and attempted coups. Bailie Nicol Jarvie (Oddbins, £14.99) is a great value blended scotch with a significantly higher malt content than the majority of its competitors.
Just so long as you’re not toasting to an evening at York’s ‘Tequila’ night at the Dutchess, do as the Mexicans do and take it straight. Try Sauza Blanco Tequila (Tesco, £15.39) over ice. Lime and salt only if you must.
This week I wish I’d been drinking …
Chateau Musar (various vintages and retailers, Circa £18) – A famous red from what is probably the most conflict ridden region in the world, the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon. The wine is a full bodied blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault and Grenache with a few obscure varietals complementing the mix. Decant and serve with Lebanese Mezze.