A group of mothers at my daughter’s school have a gin club. It’s like a book club but it cuts out the unnecessary reading and gets straight down to the more important stuff; drinking and gossiping. Or perhaps they discuss the finer points of vacuum distillation versus vapour infusion? Really I have no idea because they have never invited me.
The association of motherhood with gin is a long and often ignoble one. It’s not known as Mother’s Ruin for nothing: there’s the drunken mother in Hogarth’s Gin Lane and Eliza Doolittle from George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, ‘gin was mother’s milk to her’. Or most notoriously June Dufour who in 1734 murdered her two-year-old boy so that she could sell his clothes to buy gin.
Gin now has more jocular connotations when it comes to motherhood. There’s a book about misadventures in parenthood by Katie Kirby called Hurrah For Gin which at the time of writing was in the top 50 bestselling books on Amazon. The American equivalent was a book that came out a few years ago called the Three Martini Playdate by Christie Mellor. These books are aimed at mothers but I can speak from personal experience that watching Mister Tumble on CBeebies is a lot more fun with a G&T in hand.
For those who fancy something a little gentler, there’s always prosecco. At my daughter’s birthday party last year we had to keep sending people out to buy more and more while the beer that I’d laid on for the men lay untouched. Prosecco is in many ways the ideal child-minding drink: it feels fun, and its low acidity and gentle sweetness makes it easy to drink and, crucially, it’s not that strong. It’s basically Lambrini for the middle classes. For those who don’t know, Lambrini is a sweet wine-style drink that was popular when I was a student in the 90s. At Liverpool John Lennon Airport, motto ‘Above us Only Sky’ (and planes one hopes), you used to be confronted with a big sign boasting that Liverpool is home of Lambrini.
Lambrini is squarely aimed at female drinkers. The adverts featured a dishevelled husband covered in lipstick with the tagline, ‘Mary’s had a little Lambrini’. I think though nowadays there’s a lot less difference between what women and men drink. The Pub Landlord’s line about ‘white wine/fruit-based drink for the lady’ is funny because it’s so old-fashioned. My wife likes red wine and whisky. So whether you’re just looking for something to ameliorate the cacophony of child-rearing or you’re looking for something to make the mother in your life feel valued, you can’t go wrong with the following drinks…
Edgerton Gin, 31Dover.com, £22.75
It’s pink so you can pretend you are drinking rosé when in fact you are drinking neat gin. The colour comes from pomegranates used in the distillation process. They also provide a distinctly sweet fruity note alongside the juniper. Though fun to drink neat it is much better with tonic and ice.
Roe & Co whisky, Masters of Malt, £29.95
Diageo have revived a grand old name from Irish distilling with this one. It’s a blend with sweet notes of toffee and vanilla and cinnamon with that creamy almost oily texture that you associate with the best whiskies. At 45 per cent it really gains from adding just a drop of water.
Bolney Estate Cuvée Rosé 2014, The Pit Stop, £24.29
I promise I’m not putting this in just because it’s pink. This Sussex vineyard grow some of the best Pinot Noir in England and it really come through on this sparkler. It has the most delicious ripe cherry fruit. One to drink instead of prosecco if you’re feeling fancy.
Pol Roger 2008, Champagne Direct, £75
And if you’re feeling really fancy, this is bloody marvelous. Pol Roger are hailing this as the best vintage since I don’t know when. It’s young but already so rich and toasty with brown apples, wild flowers and an amazing freshness to it. Power and delicacy! What more could you want?
Domaine des Tourelles Vieilles Vignes Cinsault 2014, The Wine Society, £14.95
This is a real rarity, pure Cinsault from Lebanon. This grape normally makes rosé in France but in the Bekaa valley it can produce sensational spicy hedonistic reds like this one.
Adega de Monção Vinho Verde 2015, Roberson, £11.25
Instead of the pinot grigio or rosé that the mothers and wives of my brother’s cricket team swill by the bucket load, why not have a deliciously crisp vinho verde? There’s even a slight spritz which will appeal to the prosecco brigade.