“All One Wants For Christmas….”
As the year winds down and Christmas fast approaches, even hardworking monarchs earn the right to kick off their shoes (court pumps, Rayne, British size 4) and unwind with a favorite tipple. Up Sandringham way, as the Windsors settle into their Christmas Eve fun, that tipple would be a glass of Dubonnet and gin—the Queen’s favorite drink, as it was her mother’s before her.
All this and more is contained in the book “To the Queen; A Royal Drinkology” by Thomas J.M. Mace Archer DeLacroix Mills, which is exactly as described; a book all about the Queen’s drinking habits, along with those of other members of her family. Elizabeth II always has one of her favorite Dubonnet and Gins before lunch. It is in her blood—her mother, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, once noted as she was about to embark on a trip, “…I think that I will take two small bottles of Dubonnet and gin with me this morning, in case it is needed…” To quote from the book:
…in a well-known exchange over lunch between Queen Elizabeth II and her mother, the late Queen Mother, Elizabeth II stated, “I wonder if I might have a second glass of wine?” to which her mother replied with a smile, “Is that wise? You know you have to reign all afternoon.”
The Dubonnet cocktail is really quite good. Dubonnet is a sweet, wine-based aperitif, blended with fortified wine, herbs, and spices (including a small amount of Quinine) and pairs well with the medicinal austerity of gin. As an aside, Dubonnet was first sold in 1846 by Joseph Dubonnet, in response to a competition run by the government of France to find a way of persuading members of the French Foreign Legion in North Africa to drink Quinine, which combats Malaria but is very bitter. This has a familiar ring to it, to anyone familiar with the history of that oh, so British drink the Gin and Tonic.
The brand name Dubonnet was taken over by Pernod Ricard in 1976. You may remember in late 1970s an advertising campaign starring Pia Zadora. Or maybe not. Dubonnet is available in Rouge, Blanc and Gold (Vanilla and orange) varieties.
So here it is, that royal favorite, as good on a hot summer’s day as it is on a chilly Christmas Eve:
The Royal Cuppa
Also known as Dubonnet and Gin
1/3 Gin (Gordon’s is a good choice)
In a tall thin glass place a wheel of lemon under cubes of ice and pour in the spirits.