~ THE CAROUSEL ~
aka Il Giostra d’Alcol
60ml medium-bodied red wine
5-10ml sugar syrup (or grenadine; see note 4, below)
Some Carousel Notes:
1. The Giostra d’Alcol [Carousel of Alcohol] was invented by the Futurist painter Enrico Prampolini for a Paris exposition of 1931. His original recipe called quite specifically for Barbera d’Asti wine (a classic Piemontese red), Campari and cedrata, which is an Italian soda made not from lemon but from citron (cedro, in Italian), which looks a bit like a rustic lemon with lots of rind.
2. The citron is one of the three “original” citrus fruits from which all others are derived. The others are the pomelo and the mandarin. It’s rare to find cedrata outside of Italy but if you live near a good deli, you may be in luck. Otherwise, use a good lemonade or else make your own.
3. If you don’t know how to make your own lemonade, I would question your commitment to this project up to this point but what the hoo - it’s quite simply sugar, dissolved in lemon juice, topped up with sparkling water to taste. I guarantee, this will be at least five or six times better than anything you can buy in the shops. To make it eight or nine times better, use golden caster sugar (sometimes called ‘cane’ sugar), and muddle the zest of the lemon with the juice-sugar mixture with it to obtain the rich, sherberty oleo-saccharum. Ooh, mama.
4. I found that I needed to adjust the original specs to obtain the desired effect - specifically by add a little additional sweetness. Sugar syrup will suffice; honey syrup will be a step up; but I happened to have some grenadine leftover from the Vampiro and used that instead. I’m glad I did, it added a subtle bloom to the whole thing.
5. The garnish is supposed to be chocolate and cheese on cocktail sticks. I went for gorgonzola and dark chocolate, a surprisingly delicious combination. Use a walnut to bridge them.
🖊️I am Richard Godwin.
🧋My instructions for sugar syrup, ice, grenadine, orgeat, etc are here.
🧑🏫 My 10 RULES FOR MAKING COCKTAILS are here.
⚗️ My bottle recommendations are here.
📃 The full A-Z recipe archive is here.
➡️ Please find a round up of organisations helping Ukrainians here.
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A FEW REFLECTIONS ON THE 100th POST
(Possibly under the influence of the above drink)
AND just like that, we have made it to 100 posts. We have been riding the Carousel of Alcohol for a long time. How did that happen? I can’t quite believe it.
But in a funny kind of way, I also can. It now seems like a dim and distant age that I sat in my kitchen during that locked-down of Autumn 2020, feeling the walls closing in, missing my friends and our former lives, and imagining the virtual bar in which these weekly meetings would take place. A lot of time has passed since then, and with it elections, wars, pandemics, trips, children, deaths. But looking back, I’m so glad that I have managed to keep these posts up, even as other commitments arrived and mutated.
One of the cases I always make for cocktails is that they are drinkable time machines. You can’t, unfortunately, travel to 1920s Paris or 1970s Kuala Lumpur. But you can prepare yourself a little potion - eye of Campari, toe of gin - and drink yourself there. Almost. (You can get even closer, if you have the right soundtrack). Naturally, wine, tea, beer, etc have similar effects but they don’t quite have the same hands-on alchemy that cocktails do. I think there’s a little extra touch of magic that comes from making the damn thing yourself.
And I like how these sensory daytrips can take place within the context of one’s own brief time on Earth too. I always like to eke out the last few sprays of a perfume so as to have a way of re-evoking the time when I first wore them. I am loath to throw away Versace Blue Jean as it’s the first year of university; Serge Lutens’ Tubereuse Criminelle is a reporting trip to Paris for Vogue back when everything felt fresh and full of promise; for some reason, cucumber Nivea deodorant takes me right back to St Petersburg; and so on. And in a similar way, looking back through these posts, I’m happy to have a diffuse, sensory record of these past few years. I’m not a great note-keeper, nor photographer, nor a particularly diligent social media user. I have generally tried to avoid making these posts too overtly contemporary or personal. But I’m glad to have this little trail of timebombs. I can still remember the foraging trips for the English Martini; or presenting my wife with the Rose when she was still nursing our second son; or that summer when everything opened up and I kept pressing rum onto everyone; or the punch I made at my late mother-in-law’s last birthday party. Such are the little droplets of life. I sometimes beat myself up for not channelling my writing energies into something more politically engaged or intellectually ambitious - but lord knows there’s enough of that stuff out there in the ether. And when it comes down to it, I think we will remember Martinis more fondly than most other things.
This feels like goodbye. It isn’t really. I’ll keep the drinks coming - and there’s a few Cabinet posts on the slate too - but I will probably be posting on more of a fortnightly than weekly basis from now on, as I am increasingly absorbed in another writing project that I will hopefully be able to unveil in the not too distant future. After some thought, I am also going to dispense with the SHOPPING LIST feature which will hopefully allow me to a bit more spontaneous; I’ll drop a little note on Substack NOTES a day or two before, instead. I’m also minded to add maraschino to the virtual bar shelf.
But I do want to say, thank you for reading, mixing, responding, listening. Admittedly, the pace has slowed a little bit in recent months; inevitably, some posts have contained a few more typos than I’d like (though please bear in mind I do often write them post-tasting, as I am doing now); and yes, perhaps some drinks weren’t quite as good as others. But it’s testament to the enthusiastic response I’ve had that I’ve managed to keep all this going.
The Carousel of Alcohol? I thought it would make a fitting 100th post. It’s an extraordinary drink from an extraordinary time made from fairly ordinary ingredients. It points to the future but here we are looking back into the past. And around and around we go.
If you missed it, here are some of my favourite posts from the last few years:
And that ongoing playlist is pretty long now!
"drinkable time machines" sounds really cold
So San Pellegrino Limonata (Tory Fanta) would be the best bet for bought lemonade for the Carousel? Thinking campervan cupboard...