A sunny Sunday in winters means it is picnic time. And what better way to match this seasonal treat than being in the midst of friends, family and yes, a Gin Bucket!
Uh! The winter gloom! A grey sky, tumbling temperatures and a shroud of smog on everything that the naked eye can catch….
And then a strong spot of Sun slices through it all! Makes it a bright day! And if it is a Sunday — or any holiday, better, isn’t it?
If such a scenario throws itself at me, ever, I am always tempted to rustle up a quick picnic. Besides an annual picnic that we regularly go to, with friends and family, after a lot of preparations. Like, who would get what…mats, cushions, badminton rackets, cricket bats, board games, food, snacks, water, paper plates, camera, et al. And yes, whatever one would drink. And what better to match the winter sunshine in an open field than having some luscious brew by your side!
The ideal drink for a large crowd game for some outdoor fun, if you ask me, is a punch. And I can’t help here but think of a Gin Bucket. Gin being my favourite winter-day spirit. And fittingly enough, the origin of Gin Bucket goes to the tailgating tradition of the Indiana University in America’s Midwest. Say, before a heady game of football among students.
Long ago, I heard of this tradition from someone who had experienced it. Now my Internet search says it is a must-have during the annual Indiana versus Purdue football game. Apparently, it is called “Old Oaken Bucket O’ Gin”. They use a wooden bucket to concoct the Gin-laced punch with lots of lemon slices thrown in. It seems this tradition has picked up in many other American university campuses now. It has been sometime since Gin Bucket is considered a typical American drink. By habit, Americans add to it Fresca, a sugar-free product of Coca Cola, not available in India yet.
But the main fun of having a Gin Bucket is in the way it is drunk — with loads of camaraderie. It is taken not from a glass but from a turkey baster. Typically, two basters are used. In a gathering of, say, 6-7 people, two begin a round and pass on. According to Wikipedia, if the two basters ever catch up with each other, the person with the two basters must drink both and then the basters are split to opposite sides and a fresh round starts all over again. Though not always, Gin Bucket has to be competitive drinking.
For a moment, let’s keep aside geography and tradition and concentrate on the simplicity of the drink. It doesn’t need much concentration to whip it up. There are many twists that you can give to a Gin Bucket, some even add Tequila to it but I shall share with you the recipe I follow.
How to prepare
Depending on the temperature of the day — and also how good your throat is, decide on how many ice cubes to be added to a bucket. If you don’t have a wooden bucket, a steel or plastic one would do fine. Add a bottle of gin to it, then about two litres of Sprite or Mountain Dew as we don’t get Fresca here. Dip into the liquid slices of two large lemons. Since it is the season of oranges, slice two-three of them without removing the peel and throw them in. Stir and let it sit for a while before taking sips.
About me, I am in the middle of preparing our annual picnic and surely a Gin Bucket would find place in the list of things to do. About you, picnic or not, or Gin Bucket or not, on a clear Sunday, do crawl out of your blanket and sun yourself. News reports say, about 80 per cent of healthy Indians are Vitamin D deficient. And yes, never drink and drive!