Thursday, August 07, 2008

Gin Loomi

I grew up in a drinking culture. It was the 'sixties and cocktails were chic, glorified in films and television. There was rarely beer in my household, and if there was wine it was Ruffino Chianti in the little straw-covered bottles. But my folks had just about every kind of spirit and mixer imaginable, often multiple brands. My stepfather always had a couple of Beefeater martinis (with a twist) before dinner. When there was a party the drinks flowed freely, and the volume always rose as the evening wore on.

I've been a writer ever since I learned to put pen to paper. Maybe even before. And I responded to my environment. We had several mixology guides on our bookshelves, and when I was seven or eight I decided to write Peter Cherches's Bartender's Guide, with the hope that some of my inventions would be adopted for my parents' parties. I came up with fanciful names for mixed drinks and made up recipes off the top of my head, with no idea what they would taste like. But I knew the names of all the ingredients. I can't remember any of the more elaborate drinks I invented, but the one I'll never forget was the Gin Rummy: "Mix equal parts of gin and rum." When I showed the book to my mother she said, "You can't mix gin and rum. You'd throw up!"

I have a better sense now of what works in a mixed drink. For the past several years I've been enjoying a soft drink called loomi at Olive Vine, a casual Middle-Eastern restaurant in Park Slope. It's made from a citrus fruit also known as loomi, or black lemon (though it's actually a kind of lime). The limes are boiled and then sun dried. The final product has an aromatic bitter-tart flavor. Its most common use is apparently as a flavoring in Persian cuisine. It's also popular in the kitchens of Iraq and Kuwait. And it makes a really refreshing summer drink. Every time I've had a loomi at Olive Vine I've thought it would go great with gin. It's a natural, with a taste somewhat like tonic water or bitter lemon. So last night I picked up a loomi to go, and mixed in some gin when I got home. It worked like a charm. As I sipped my loomi with gin, I tried to think of a name for my new cocktail. Since loomi is popular in Iraq, and since my drink is made with gin, I thought of calling it a Bombay-Baghdad. Eventually I decided to keep it simple and just call it a gin loomi.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

its funny coz the word gin in arabic means ghost or spirit. so if u say the sentence gin loomi or loomi gin it means the loomi ghost or spirit

4:26 PM  

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