Occasionally, something is just plain awful.
Like many-perhaps most-small business owners, I’m frequently WAY behind on cultural trends, particularly TV and other media. When *everyone* was watching Game of Thrones, I was oblivious. When *everyone* discovered TikTok last year, we were too busy bleaching every surface in the store on repeat. And when Downton Abbey was all the rage a few years ago, I never made the time to sit down and watch it, even though period drama+ the British aristocracy is pretty much my dream combo. But monsoon weather and the lack of a new book to read converged, and ….well, I watched the entire series over less than 2 weeks.
Dry British humor, countesses, and earls; footmen and butlers; hunting and ballgowns; magnificent hats and more magnificent uniforms; absolute adherence to protocol and the constant threat of scandal and ‘ruin’….it’s a dishy beach read with a very stiff upper lip. And that’s before you get to the drinks.
The series might have been written by a wine and spirits purveyor. In one scene, a maid is instructing the substitute butler on wine service for dinner: ‘Mr Carson likes to serve two white wines, which you should open and decant just before they eat. A light one for the hors d’ouevres, then a heavy one with the soup. Keep that going for the fish, then change to the Claret, which you should really decant now. There’s a pudding wine, and after that…’ Excuse me, but I’d like an invitation?
Of course, this is before the 1920’s and the rise of the cocktail, which the younger members of the family embrace wholeheartedly. (Dame Maggie Smith, as the Dowager Countess, responding to the offer of a cocktail before dinner: ‘Oh I don’t think so. They look too exciting for so early in the evening’.) By the end of the series, the family seems to favor Gin & Tonics, a blameless move since G&T’s are THE cocktail of summer. Naturally, I’ve been pouring G&T’s on repeat while watching, reminding me of how many fabulous gins we currently have in the bathtub. One of those, Highclere Gin, is made at the estate where the Downton Abbey series was filmed. That’s not why we carry it-it’s a delicious, creamy gin made from the estate’s own oats-but it’s a fun extra.
Of course, we’re now planning a Gin & Tonic event. Stay tuned for the details. Hat and gloves optional, excitement mandatory.