Wednesday, 20 February 2013

In contemplation of brown spirits

Goddammit, I'm sick! After walking about seven kilometres yesterday through the Plateau District, then on to Downtown and Chinatown, I've succumbed to a cold. Given that we received a nice dollop of snow last night, it's probably best I stay indoors rather than traipse around town as I was hoping to do, but when you want to be adventuring, being sick is a frustration.

One of my favourite home remedies for a cold is the old faithful: hot lemon and honey. Even if its benefits are purely psychological given the destruction of the lemon's vitamin C by the boiling water, I'll happily take that placebo effect. I usually add thin slices of fresh ginger if I have it handy, which is probably the most useful ingredient. And on the occasions when I have some joint pain (as I do today), well, then ... my secret ingredient is a generous shot of some variety of brown spirits. Joint pain? Gone!

Brown spirits—whisky, whiskey, bourbon, brandy, dark rum, etc.—are not, in general, a favourite of mine. I've just never been able to get into them. White spirits—gin, vodka, even white rum in a well-made cocktail—are fine by me, but brown spirits have either failed to appeal or drawn outright disgust. After hearing many a friend extol the virtues of a cheeky snifter in the hot lemon pot, though, I tried it and had to concede it was rather helpful. It is the only time I drink such stuff.

I am, however, exceptionally curious about whisky, particularly single malts. As a lover of food and wine, ever interested in regional variations and the impact of 'terroir', I'm intrigued by the range of flavours reported. I also love smoked foods; Lapsang Suchong tea; a properly made, smoky babaganough; smoky pinot noirs ... so the prospect of a peaty, smoky-flavoured spirit appeals greatly to me. I also have this curious fantasy: Hopefully in the northern Fall, when I have moved to Montréal permanently, Charles and I will take a road trip to the Gaspé region. There, in my mind, it will be blowing a gale and be suitably autumnal. We will stay in a B&B with lace curtains, eat lobster rolls and seafood chowder, wear cream Aran fisherman's sweaters, and I will enjoy drinking whisky as we laugh in the face of the cold. You see, my fantasies are pretty innocent, really. The only catch to this scheme is my current aversion to brown spirits.

Of course, I have a plan to overcome this. My friends Jane and Chedy are big lovers of Scotch, Laphroaig being their favourite. I am going to visit them at their Northern New South Wales multiple occupancy community (no, it's not a commune!) in April, so I shall take a bottle of Laphroaig with me and, by hook or by crook, I will enjoy the damn stuff by the time my long weekend stay is over.

For now though I see that it has passed the hopefully-acceptable time of 10am and it is still snowing in big, fat flakes. So I am off to make a pot of hot lemon and honey with a little dash of something extra. Santé!

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