The time-travelling killer robot franchise, true to form, has come back. Terminator Genisys has premiered just in time for some holiday movie watching. Come with us if you want to drink.
- 2 tsp (10mL) Amaro Braulio
- 1 jigger (2 oz, 1/4 cup or 60mL) tom gin (Hayman’s Old Tom Gin used here)
- 1 gill (4 oz, 1/2 cup, or 120 mL) soda water
- Set out a 7 oz fizz tumbler
- Add 1 cube of 1 oz service ice
- Add Braulio, tom gin, and soda water to glass.
The year is 2029 (they’re really going to need a new future year soon, methinks), and humans are on the run from Skynet. Even the militaristic Resistance led by John Connor is surviving, not thriving. With little luxury, and desperation as the only abundant resource, it’s no wonder they’re always taking the last-chance options to save the future. Personally, I’d rather spend the end of days with at least a few drinks in hand. But what would tastes be, and what would even be available?
Start with bathtub Tom Gin
Turns out, it’s not really so impossible to make alcohol if you’re not concerned with how it tastes. By running alcohol through a even a rudimentary pot still enough times, and aggresively cutting out things that aren’t ethanol in “heads and tails” (a story for another time), you can end up with a liquor that is high proof, and essentially tasteless, where the name “neutral” in neutral spirits comes from. Undiluted neutral spirits are the blank canvas that flavored vodkas, gin, bitters, and even many liqueurs are based off of.
Figuring that the Resistance wouldn’t be able to grow enough of a luxury crop like grapes or sugarcane for brandy or rum, nor have the wherewithal to barrel age any of these liquors anyway, you’re left with either white dog (un-aged) whiskey, or basing something off of neutral spirit, which can be fermented out of grains or even fruit and vegetable scraps. From there, to give it flavor without labs capable of whipped cream and birthday cake, I imagine they’d turn to the hardy old roots, spices, and berries that probably eke out existence in the wild. From there, it’s a hop, skip, and a jump to bathtub gin. Just throw in juniper and some other botanicals, let it sit for a bit, water it down (so it doesn’t catch fire in the still), and redistill to clear. Dilute to bottle-strength
Just a sampling of some of the plants that can make their way in
But my guess is they aren’t watering this juice down for bottling to drinkable levels with their finest, purified water. I mean, anything living in there will be killed by the alcohol. The good stuff is probably reserved for, you know, keeping soldiers in fighting form. So how do you clean out the taste of (perhaps literally) crappy water? Historical precedent has pre-Industrial Revolution England using hard water from the Thames for their gin. To compensate for the off flavors in the water, they sweetened the gin, not to liqueur levels, but enough to be noticeable. As this style fell out of favor, this became the Old style: more specifically Old Tom. (Tom is another story entirely). So that’s the base for our drink.
Add some herbal bitters
As mentioned earlier, neutral alcohol was capable of making bitters and (in Italian, “amaro”), which at their core are just macerations [infusions] of herbs/roots/other botanicals that tasted bitter. Why have people been doing this so long anyway? The short answer of it is many botanical ingredients have medicinal uses which were roughly understood, and maceration was for a long time the best preservation technology they had for whatever active compounds were in the plants. People eventually started enjoying them for their flavor and comparative ease of production, and there you have it. In this recipe, we go back to Braulio because its extremely astringent bitterness evokes, when used in small amounts, that crapsack kind of post-apocalyptic world.
Serve as an old-fashioned highball
As some of my compatriots have so helpfully reminded me, the mainstream palate is not accustomed to, nor takes great pleasure in drinking spirits neat at bottling strength and room temperature, especially not when modified by something dreadfully bitter and mouth-drying like amaro. Without much in the way of other ingredients, the easiest way to make such spirits approachable is 1) make it weaker, and b) make it colder. Diluting a drink of its alcohol content will dilute the burning sensation, and often gives flavors a chance to mellow and blend if they aren’t quite as balanced as they ought to be. As an added bonus, once it becomes much more water than alcohol, it will even hydrate a little, rather than totally dehydrate. See “sessionable” beers and in our case, “X and soda”. X in this case is tom gin and Braulio, and thankfully carbonated water shouldn’t be too hard to acquire, even when Skynet is chasing you. Take your decent water into a sealed container and (worst case,) blow a CO2 fire extinguisher into it. Shake.
There’s a reasoning behind the cooling, too. Cold numbs senses and dulls and dims flavor, which is why ice cream bases taste too strong until frozen, why good beer shouldn’t be served fully frosted, and why people who can’t stomach what little taste vodka has will throw it in the freezer. So we add ice, although not a lot, because ice is probably once again a luxury. So adding just a lump or two of ice and pouring the drink over it, the cube(s) will rise up like an old railroad highball sign, hence the name.
So how does it taste?
Kind of like you’re huddled over a radiator in the dead of night, hoping the robots don’t come until morning. In the moonlight, it smells and tastes almost like what you remember being told of beer. Better than nothing, I guess.
See? Not so bad after all