By Dave Pezza
And we’re back with the third installment of Home Stretch, a cocktail and album paring designed to shoo away those hump days fits and tantrums. This week’s choices are as straightforward as they are enjoyable: the gin-based Gimlet and The Kills’ 2016 album “Ash & Ice.”
The Kills are composed of Nashville-based vocalist Alison Mosshart (also of the band Dead Weather) and U.K.-based guitarist Jamie Hince. For a band that is just vocals, guitar, and occasional percussion, it packs a wallop of noise into each song. Their earlier albums are a bluesier, dirtier version of The White Stripes. I highly recommend their self-titled first album—it’s raw, powerful, and danceable—but “Ash & Ice” forms a complex and intricate tapestry of sounds from the band's simple parts unlike any of their previous releases. Similarly, this week’s cocktail, the Gimlet, incorporates simple ingredients into a shockingly enjoyable flavor profile that is preferable to the ubiquitous gin and tonic.
What you’ll need:
- 2.5 oz. dry London gin
- 0.5 oz. simple syrup
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1 cup of water
- 0.5 oz. lime juice
- Lime for garnish
- Cocktail or highball glass
- Cocktail shaker
Legend has it that the Gimlet was developed in the British Navy to fight off scurvy. The drink neatly combined the sailor’s daily ration of lime and gin. If you like gin and tonics, you’ll love the Gimlet. If you don’t like gin and tonics, still give it a try. The simple syrup and lime complement the gin as opposed to attempting to mask it with tonic.
0.5 oz. of Simple Syrup/“Doing It to Death”
We’ve talked about how to make simple syrup before, but for those that need a quick recap, just add a cup of sugar and a cup of water into a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring the sugar and water to a boil, lower heat and simmer for three minutes (or until the sugar is fully dissolved), and set aside to cool.
“Doing It to Death” is similar to the simple syrup in this cocktail because it appears a little onerous at first, however, it really breaks down the entire album’s sounds, effects, and elements right off the bat. Just as the syrup adds a demurred sweetness to the cocktail, “Doing It to Death” gives you a taste of all that is too come, and perhaps leaves you wanting more. The guitar riff is spot on, but also sparse, leaving a craving in your ears for more of Hince’s absurdly good riffs. Add 0.5 oz. of your simple syrup to a cocktail shaker along with some ice. (Reminder: you can store your simple syrup covered in the fridge for a few weeks.)
0.5 oz. of Lime Juice/“Hum for Your Buzz”
Add 0.5 oz. of lime juice to your cocktail shaker. The lime in this drink plays an important role in accenting the flavor of the gin. In a gin and tonic, limes break up the strong tonic flavor used to break up the strong gin flavor. In a Gimlet, all of the elements communicate with each other. The lime adds citrus tones to the sweetness of the simple syrup and links that sweetness to the herbal, refreshing qualities of the gin.
“Hum for Your Buzz” could be the best song on this album. It's extremely stripped down, only featuring guitar and Mosshart’s vocals. The two elements are so incredibly in sync that at times the sounds create one image in your head as you listen. “Hum for Your Buzz” is quintessential The Kills, bluesy riff, kickass vocals with lyrics of heartbreak, redemption, and nonchalance that puts everything in perspective. If nothing from this article grabs you or prompts you to buy this album or make this cocktail, at the very least listen to this song on Spotify (or whichever streaming service you prefer). This track will perfectly lull you into a Wednesday night stupor of released frustrations and affirmed misgivings while you sip your Gimlet. Like the lime juice in this cocktail, “Hum for Your Buzz” takes the energy of the faster tempo of the album's first half and slows them down, easing you into some deeper, ballad-esque tracks.
2.5 oz. Dry London Gin/“Siberian Nights”
Again, I am a big proponent of Beefeater’s gin. It’s a solid middle of the road gin with a robust taste at a reasonable price. In my opinion, it’s the complete opposite of Bombay Sapphire. That being said, add 2.5 oz. of your preferred gin to your cocktail shaker. You’ll taste plenty of gin in this drink, obviously, but the selling point of gin is that it’s a sipping-friendly alcoholic beverage that is refreshing as it is potent. It’s perfect for weekday drinking, and perfect for increasingly warmer nights.
“Siberian Nights” also takes a middle road. The song's drums track is quick and sharp, Hince’s guitar crawls through the song, and Mosshart all but croons the lyrics. “Siberian Nights” presents a dichotomy that somehow gets your body swaying and your throat humming.
Shake, Pour, Garnish/“Echo Home”
Pop the lid on your shaker, shake until ice cold, pour in a cocktail or an Old Fashioned glass, and garnish with a lime wheel.
“Echo Home” is a ballad that builds slowly over delicate and soft guitar in conjunction with soft lyrics. It builds and builds and then releases without a crescendo, letting go of the energy effortlessly. This tune is a staggeringly appropriate end to your night. Sip, float away, and repeat.