That’s Just British…
Wit and Wisdom from Across the Pond….
By Russ

“Tea to the English is really a picnic indoors” – Alice Walker

2020 has been a shit show. We can all agree on that. It’s had its ups and downs…. Well ok mostly downs. But in England we deal with challenges like this in almost always the same way. Got to deal with a difficult situation. Get the kettle on. Got to send a difficult e-mail. Tea. Consul someone, get a brew. Brace yourself for a tough chat… kettle. Had a bit of bad news. Kettle. It’s the same thing. And you cradle it to you, like a loved one. It’s safe, comforting, reassuring. A ritual, A warming cup to sooth all the bleakness.

So when Prime Minister Boris announced Lockdown, the first go to… tea (beer is a close second later) So of course I was out of tea. This should have been a warning of what was to come.

Tea really is part of being English to me, its an ingrained part of our psyche, tea breaks at work, visiting family and friends, always within the first few minutes of meeting up, it’s a case of “I’ll put the kettle on” I’m a late convert to Coffee, and I do love it, but tea, tea is the favourite. I always start the day with a brew.

I can’t tell you who figure putting tea leaves into hot water and adding milk was a good idea. They were a genius though. Tea first arrived here in the 17th Century. And it’s become like crack to us ever since. We drink 60 billion cups of the stuff.

Tea is serious stuff here. It’s made in a very precise way. Ideally in a pot. With milk added first in this method. If you have to use a bag then milk comes after. Always boiled water in a kettle. Anyone who tells you otherwise, deserves to have been dusted by Thanos. And don’t get me started on Iced tea… just no. Unless you are in the Southern States of the US, where I can understand it’s as much engrained in your culture as black tea is here. If it doesn’t scold your mouth, it’s not British tea. Previously I had sugar in my tea, but cut that out, it masked the taste.

For those not bored here is a video explain the ways of tea making:

And Important is how much milk, tea usually looks like one of:

(Renegade is my go to)

Does all of this sound dull to you? I mean why get so worked up over tea Russ? Because it’s part of us. It’s not just drinking tea. If I’m honest it’s not really the most appealing idea of food is it. It’s pretty bland. But it’s more than that. Here it’s a displacement activity. We hide behind tea. “Oh shit Steve got sacked, he’s… he’s crying… well this is awkward and I need to be here for him… He needs comforting… a hug… fuck that… I don’t even hug my mum… unless it’s her birthday… to the Kettle!” When we feel awkward or uncomfortable in a social situation (so 99% of the time) we can hide behind a mug, giving someone a tea is like giving them part of your soul, you put time and effort into it, you want to hear the magical words “That’s a bloody good cuppa” that’s as close to “I love you for being here” that some of us are prepared to confide.

And it doesn’t end there, I have even touched on afternoon tea, scones (Jam first of cream first…) the best biscuits to dip into it (rich tea, digestive… hob nobs…) It goes on. Tea is a ritual here, It brings comfort, it brings us together and allows us to deal with difficult situations. And don’t tell me you don’t get it my America friends, you knew enough to know that to piss us off, you fuck with our tea. You dumped it into cold water. Cold! From there we got the American Revolution and well we know the rest.

In the current climate, tea drinking brings us comfort, and togetherness. The first thing I did when lockdown eased here was go and visit my mum. When we all stood around awkwardly after being pleased to see each other, knowing that one of us would put our foot in it and say we’d missed each other. Mum called on social convention “tea?” It saved us all from having to say what didn’t need to be said and allowed us to remain being emotionally closed off Brits. But we all know how much we mean to each other, mum went to the trouble of making a pot of tea and it might be the best cup I’ve ever had.

And yes I did bolt to the shop and ensure I had enough tea bags. But don’t worry no one panic brought tea. That’s just rude.

Boozy Travels with Rivers

Talk Dirty to Me…

If you asked anyone they’d likely tell you that my favorite drink is wine. They wouldn’t be wrong, I really love wine – but I love it at home. Its rare that I order wine when I go out. To me, wine goes with the couch, or a bubble bath. It goes with that first moment of silence after putting the little guy to bed. It sips perfectly by a Christmas tree or on the deck by the water.

When I go out? Its different. I generally have a favorite drink everywhere I go, kind of how I associate wine with my home I have a drink that I associate with my favorite places. At the Melting Pot I always order a Vapor. At Homecomin’ I always order a Bloody Mary. But just as I have drinks associated with places…I have drinks associated with occasions.

Every year, late summer or early fall I take a little trip by myself to my favorite resort in Orlando. I always get there hours before I can check in to the room because I like to spend the afternoon in the lobby by the fountain, watching people mill about, listening to the music and pretending I’m not glancing at the bar every 2-4 minutes waiting for it to open.

This is normally about where I sit and you can see Phins bar in the background…

I really love the fountain…

But this is about alcohol – and low key stalking the bar.

It opens later than literally any other bar in the resort, but its absolutely thrilling when they walk out and begin to set up. Soon thereafter the waitress will meander about those sitting around the lobby near the bar to take drink orders. Thats when I get to order the drink that kicks off one of my favorite times of the year.

“I’ll have a dirty-as-a-whore-on-the-corner martini, please.”

You heard what I said.

There’s always an awkward pause. A stifled laugh. Then the attempt to make the situation normal again, “would you like gin or vodka?”

But I have to take it back.

“Vodka. And don’t forget to tell them – dirty as a whore.”

Let’s be real for a minute, folks. If a dirty martini is not made with the proper level of dirty then you’re basically sipping a fancy glass of rubbing alcohol. You need that brine. It needs to be cloudy. You need to question if there’s anything but olive juice in that glass. You need to sip it and reminisce on the ocean.

Then you need to sip it again and lean back on the cushion by that fountain and exhale because…its finally vacation time.

There is nothing better than that first dirty martini in the early afternoon to kick off your vacation. To have nowhere to be. To have nothing to do but sip that cold, briny elixir and wait for your room key.

True bliss.

PS – this apocalyptic plague is gonna have to back the fuck down because I’m gonna be saltier than that martini if I don’t get to make my annual trip this year!

Now this isn’t something I generally make at home because it doesn’t give me the same feeling as the one pictured above.

But, given the apocalypse – I might have to settle this year. Luckily, its easy enough to recreate (sans the whole resort/vacation part)!

Dirty as a Whore on the Corner Martini

2.5 ounces vodka
1.5 ounces dry vermouth
0.5 ounces olive brine (that’s a lie. don’t measure – pour until its filthy)

Shake with ice, strain into a glass, garnish with olives.

Incase that dirty martini isn’t speaking to you…take a look (and probably a sip) of this one:

Cherry Vanilla Rum Float

2 vanilla bean pods
1/2 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/2 pound fresh or frozen pitted cherries
1 tablespoon lemon juice

4 scoops of vanilla ice cream
6 ounces Captain Morgan original spiced rum
cherry vanilla syrup
soda water
maraschino cherries for garnish

Preparation

1. Cherry Vanilla Syrup: Slice vanilla bean pods down the center and scrape out the black seeds. Add seeds and husks to a small saucepan. Add water, sugar, and cherries to the saucepan. Place pan on medium-low heat. Stir well to dissolve sugar and bring to a simmer.

2. Use a small potato masher or a fork to muddle the cherries while simmering. Let simmer for 7–8 minutes, until liquid reduces and becomes syrupy. Stir in lemon juice. Remove from heat and let cool. Strain syrup, pressing mixture through a sieve with a spatula to extract all the liquid.

3. Float: Place a scoop of vanilla ice cream in each glass. Pour 11⁄2 ounces Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum into each, followed by 2 tablespoons of cherry vanilla syrup. Fill each glass up to the top with soda water. Garnish with maraschino cherries.