Is there anything more therapeutic at the end of a long day than a deep bubble bath? Well, for me there is: sipping a cold gin and tonic while I soak. Baths and gin are two of my favourite things. And this month, thanks to a couple of tweets and some internet idling, the two have finally blended more completely than I ever could have hoped.
One afternoon, I was prattling away to my Twitter followers about my yearning for a bath of gin. “Wish there was some sort of gin-based bath foam, I want to bathe in gin,” said I, dreaming of the ultimate bathtime experience that would calm my nerves and enliven my mind. And, as is Twitter’s wont, several replies alerted me to the existence of Sting in the Tail, purveyors of Gin & Tonic Bathing Gel. What’s more, one of my lovely followers – @germgirl – actually decided to purchase a bottle of the stuff for me as a gift, requested my address and had it shipped to me that very day. (See, Jane Finch, you’re not the only one who can have adoring minions.)
It’s not actual gin for your bathtub, of course; it’s a clever bath foam/shower gel which manages to combine lemon fragrance with all sorts of probably terrible chemicals which give it an ‘alcoholic’ kick. Anyhow, whatever Sting in the Tail have thrown in here, it really works. And it’s the association with gin that creates the effect: as you lie back and enter that blissful bathtime frame of mind, your imagination roaming, body forgetting its ills, you’re expecting and wanting the bubbles to smell of gin, so they do.
And not long after that, I stumbled across a little-known, extremely small-batch libation which goes by the charming name of Professor Cornelius Ampleforth’s Bathtub Gin. “Bathtub Gin!” I exclaimed out loud when I saw the name and the image of the bottle on the website of our friends at Master of Malt, waking up from my listless internet explorations. I had veered across to their website without even realising, at some point during an evening feeling languid, attempting to write, tweet, shop, email. All manner of gorgeous single malts and blends, which I know Larry and Stirling are dying to get their hands on, swam before me, but Master of Malt’s gin section glowed out to me to be explored, of course. And as soon as I saw it, I just had to taste the Bathtub.
So now, where Sting in the Tail’s Gin & Tonic Bathing Gel is most certainly not good for drinking, Professor Cornelius Ampleforth’s Bathtub Gin should definitely not be poured into your tub. Its name, the hand-drawn print on brown paper wrapping tells me, comes from “days of yore, when cheaper, compounded gins would be topped off with water from a common or garden bathtub tap”.
The endearingly Victorian bottling is topped by traditional flax twine around the neck and a black wax seal, with a large cork stopper which makes a satisfying squeak and “thrum” sound when removed. And the first thing that escapes from the bottle is spice. This is a most surprising, cold-compounded gin, a madcap aromatic blend of orange peel, coriander, cinnamon, cardamom and clove. The warm and earthy botanicals give the gin its yellow tint and bring with them an old-world, ever-so-slightly medicinal quality, evoking wooden desks and shelves of a 19th century apothecary’s treatment room. In a good way. This is quite a serious gin. It’s not earnest as such, but this bottling is more about humor than humour. Put it this way: this is a cucumber-free zone.
“Purely medicinal,” I sometimes say, when reaching for a little top-up of gin. And a really good spirit should have that healing quality, which is why, for me, a gin and tonic is the perfect thing to accompany a bubble bath, another balancing, therapeutic experience.
I’m too well-behaved ever to fill my bathtub with pure gin, of course. One day, perhaps I will, and have the ultimate ‘medicinal’ bath. Until then, I’ll be more than happy to balance my mind and body with a gin and bathtime blend courtesy of Sting in the Tail, @germgirl, and Professor Cornelius Ampleforth.