Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Drink of the Week: Barritt's Bermuda Stone Ginger Beer, Randall's Wines and Spirits

Posted By on Wed, Jan 6, 2010 at 12:45 PM

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We knew we were pushing it. We'd spent the month of December eating too much sugar and drinking too much alcohol, being stressed out and overtired. On New Year's Eve, we should have toasted with champagne and gone home early. We knew it as we stood outside sucking cigarette smoke and icy air into our lungs. We knew it as, one by one, the other revelers left and we stayed and closed the joint down.

We awake with what feels like the flu, retreat to bed with our chills and our aches and our laptop and read, much too late to be of any help to us, some hangover avoidance tips. One is to choose clear liquor, as brown liquor contains more impurities, which exacerbate hangovers. We enjoyed a particularly smoky six-year-aged rye whiskey, on the rocks, the night before, and are finding that we don't regret it a bit. Not that we're not hung over -- we're both sick and hung over -- just that we are strangely free of remorse. Those very same impurities are what make whiskey and brandy and red wine more flavorful than vodka or white wine, and we have come to the conclusion that tasty and impure is just how we like things.

For the next couple of days, we mainly just lie in a dimmed room, relishing the excuse to abandon all our responsibilities. We sleep and drink water and generally give our body a break, but we are not so much reformed as biding our time. Unafflicted with that early January zeal to change our lifestyle, we settle for changing our hair, dying the jaunty red a dark, sultry brown. We probably just have a virus, but it feels like we have been bitten by something much more sinister.

Tired of trying to wait this one out, we decide to push it out. We must eat something but have no patience for sipping green tea and chicken soup. We get Vietnamese take-out noodles, stinky with fish sauce and laced with chiles and cilantro, and wash them down with Barritt's Bermuda Stone Ginger Beer. Ginger beer originated in 18th-century England, where it was made by fermenting water, sugar and ginger with live cultures, resulting in carbonation and, often, significant alcohol content. Nowadays, ginger beer is almost exclusively produced as a soft drink, differing from ginger ale only in the strength of its ginger flavor.

Barritt's has been continuously bottled on the island of Bermuda since 1874, produced by five generations of the Barritt family. With Gosling's Black Seal rum, it is a traditional component in Bermuda's national drink, the Dark and Stormy. We are taking ours with a couple of dashes of bitters and no rum, although we are feeling dark and stormy just the same. Our home remedy is so pungent with ginger it leaves a trace of heat on our lips and tongue.

We climb into a hot bath, one that opens up our pores and empties out our sweat glands and listen to music that empties out our heart. By the time we get up, we have jelly legs and see flashes of stars in our eyes. We almost pushed it too far. That seems to be our theme for this year. We have friends who have dubbed 2010 "the year of the turnaround," and we hope it works out that way for them. We were very lucky in 2009; amongst so much loss and despair, the year brought us a bounty of gifts. We wanted to deserve it, to live up to every expectation, to meet every task. We were conscientious and measured, aware of our impact on others. Already this year feels different. We are not looking for a turnaround. We are looking to push our luck.

Alicia Lohmar is a south-city dweller and accomplished drinker, to which she credits her German ancestry and Catholic upbringing.

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