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The Crimson Hour: Sour and Fizzle

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Wherein we seek relief from the tropics that have invaded our temperate zone.

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

When fans' feet on the pavement quicken toward the gates, we cease to measure the length of the day with clocks, whose ticks and tocks now distend ever more noiselessly until we count beats and rhythms in pitches and swings. We frame periods in innings and recover a more intimate acquaintance with beginnings and endings, with the origin of finitude. This is the hour for hushed vitality, for precise attention, for active sensation—sight, sound, touch, but most of all smell and taste. This is the crimson hour.

Welcome to monsoon season in the nation's capital. For the last two weeks the mornings have dawned saturated, the afternoons have piqued brightly late, and the gloamings have expunged their languor onto our heads or hoisted scrimshields with pellets of distilled water. I imagine myself as much the object of atmospheric pranks as Harry Coomer/Hari Kumar after he disembarked from his journey from his native England to his ancestral India.

This weekend we'll be drinking a cocktail designed to salve the wounds of wetting season. These days the Gin Fizz is either forgotten or a different species than its classic predecessor. It is such a fossil that I went into a fine dining establishment in downtown D.C., dripping with either sweat or mid-air dew (I couldn't tell) from my half-mile jaunt from the Metro, sat at the bar, ordered a Gin Fizz, and the bartender—who looked like a wizened plier of booze—asked me how to make it. When I omitted egg white, he looked surprised. Today bartenders use egg white to add body to the Fizz because otherwise it is just a boozy sparkling lemonade... but what is imperfect about a boozy sparkling lemonade? Nothing, nothing at all, especially in a heat that cannot decide whether it should fry the egg on the sidewalk or poach it. The bartender's second reaction to my recipe was to correct me: it's a Gin Rickey, not a Fizz. Again, modern mixology led him astray. The Rickey is made with lime juice and syrup, the Fizz lemon and syrup. But these days bartenders often make a "sour mix" which is both lemon and lime juices mixed with sugar. So, the basis for distinguishing the Rickey from the Fizz has been destroyed behind many bars. But not behind mine.

Speaking of destroying distinctions—in this case, discriminatory—I had planned a longer rant about the British Rajj in India, where the Fizz rose to prominence as the drink of polite society (not the brutish G&T), and a vague connection to the Phillies on fall-out from their colonization of the NL East in the second half of the 2000s. But I have been completely distracted by the news of today's SCOTUS announcement. Forgive this abbreviated article for its abbreviation. Or, alternatively, please view this article as wonderfully concise.

The recipe for a great Gin Fizz is below. But here's a quick and dirty version first. Buy lemonade and gin. Mix 2 parts Gin to 1 part lemonade and 1 part club soda in a glass taller than it is wide that has been filled with ice. Stir it up and drink it down. Repeat as necessary.

Now for the real recipe.

Tools: Highball Glass, Juicer, Spoon, Mesh Strainer

Ingredients: Gin, Lemon, Simple Syrup, Club Soda

  1. Juice Lemon and measure out 1 oz. of juice (which should be about 1 Lemon)
  2. Fill Glass with ice.
  3. Pour 1.5 oz Gin, 1 oz Lemon Juice through Strainer, ¾ oz. Simply Syrup into Glass. Stir gently so that the ingredients distribute from top to bottom.
  4. Top off with Club Soda. Stir a few more times.
  5. Spoon out Cherry and place in Glass.
  6. Enjoy!

The ratios here are both precise and fussy. How do you accurately pour ¾ oz? You don't you eye it. Moreover, these are the ratios I prefer but you may have a slightly different taste. Feel free to play around because ultimately what you are drinking is an adult lemonade exponentially better than anything Mike would try to sell you. And as always, the better the gin you use the better these will taste, but the less you will have to use in a drink that shows off the gin's qualities better. The Classic Gin Fizz is not a craft cocktail. It is a means for coping with oppressive heat, humidity, and occasional but persistent torrential downpours.

If you are having a party you might consider mixing a large pitcher of Gin Fizz for your guests. The recipe can be made in bulk easily (as long as you don't have to juice the lemons by hand) and will be a crowd pleaser. For the club soda you won't be able to just top off the pitcher. So, I recommend about an ounce of soda per shot (1.5 oz.) of Gin.

And now a toast:

This one's for you, sis!

From a central innovator of New Wave: