How to Prevent Scurvy and Get a Buzz

Just add lime.

Not only is lime one of my top five smells—yes, I've made that list—it's also one of my favorite tastes. More than orange or lemon, lime's zesty green flavor is synonymous with summer drinking. How could a Lemon Drop, basically the frou-frou equivalent of spiked lemonade, ever hope to compete with the devilishly simple flavors of a well-heeled margarita? A wedge of lime turns a dude staple—the rum and Coke—into a dashing Cuba Libre. Sailors used to add limes to their gin to prevent scurvy. We're in little danger of scurvy in Seattle, but I still couldn't stomach a G&T without a healthy squeeze. For too long, the little bottle of Rose's lime cordial in every bar's well served only to sully the citrus fruit's good name. One of the smells etched in my brain for eternity is the not-so-subtle mixture of cheap spirits and Rose's that constituted my nana's favorite beverage, the vodka gimlet. This drink, invented by sailors, can be so much more than something you'd only drink if you were as drunk as one. Try it without the Rose's: Muddle a few lime quarters in a glass with sugar to taste, add ice and a good gin, and strain into a small glass garnished with a lime. Rub the rim with the lime first for an extra flavor bump. Though gin is the traditional base for gimlets, the cocktail can be made with any clear spirit; a margarita is just a tequila gimlet with a few added circuses. Tanqueray's new Rangpur Lime Gin makes making gimlets effortless, but I have a Goldilocks moment every time I drink this stuff; gimlets should be cold, but make them too cold and you can't smell the gin. Hipster mascots aside, Tanqueray has made a gin much different from its flagship bottle, which smells like a Northwest pine forest (not that there's anything wrong with that). Rangpur's botanicals come off far mellower, closer to a backyard garden than an evergreen grove, with an awesome float of fresh, zinging lime. Hangar One Vodka single-handedly changed the way I feel about vodka, in part due to the kaffir lime version of the spirit. When you smell this particular vodka—and I mean this in the very best way—you don't know if you've caught a whiff of high-priced perfume or a market stall in Malaysia. A Kaffir lime (Citrus hystrix) looks like the opposite of everything you'd expect from a lime: a meager knob riddled with protrusions. Popular in Southeast Asian cuisines for its intensely aromatic oil, kaffir lime is surrealism writ into plant DNA, vim and vigor wrapped in a sweet, heavy musk that induces an almost druglike state. I only wish the culinary world would lose the "kaffir" in the fruit's name, since it's an offensive term in some cultures. Don't hide this vodka's subtle flavor with too strong a mixer; try it with iced tea or soda water first before mixing it with anything stronger, such as lemonade or tonic. Note to do-it-yourselfers: the kaffir lime shrub thrives by a sunny-side window, enough so that it breezes through puberty and into full-blown tree within a year. Infuse the crushed leaves into alcohol and syrups as well as your tom kha gai. Note to loafers: Store either of the above bottles in the fridge for an instant cocktail. Lazing about with a limey beverage is as undemanding as you want it to be. mdutton@seattleweekly.com

 
comments powered by Disqus