Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Queens and the gin and Dubonnet debate
I must tipple the Queen’s favoured ligging drink – gin and Dubonnet with one slice of pipless lemon and two ice cubes (strictly squared to slow the melt). This much I learned last night as I tried but failed not to be interested in BBC1’s Monarchy: The Royal Family At Work. Thanks to a 1999 piece in that well-known society magazine, the New Statesman, I now learn that this royal knock-back was favoured by the late Queen Mother as a breakfast aperitif and once known as a Zaza cocktail: it appears to have made its debut as far back as 1922 in a volume called Cocktails: How to Mix Them by "Robert of the American Bar, Casino Municipal, Nice, and late of the Embassy Club, London”. In those days orange peel rather than lemon was the citric topper so let it not be said that QEII is not an innovator of sorts. Controversy rages over measures: I would guess that QEII’s drink is one part gin to two parts Dubonnet, but the QM preferred equal measures, if we adhere to the Zaza recipe, denied with some force in ’99 by her private secretary Captain Sir Alastair Aird who insisted on the one-part gin theory. In fact the NS mischievously suggested that the QM might even have bare-backed on two parts gin to one part Dobonnet, given her fondness for Claridges’ rendition of the drink. I fear that the drinks expert at About.com, Colleen Graham, may have to correct a detail that accompanies her Dubonnet Cocktail recipe: she thinks that while QM preferred the drink on the rocks, QEII does not. But millions witnessed otherwise thanks to the BBC.