If you're anything like me, you've found yourself drawn to the spectacle and pageantry surrounding the death of Great Britain's Queen Elizabeth II. My social media feeds have been full of posts exploring her life and her outsized role in history. One thing I haven't seen mentioned quite as much is how much she enjoyed a stiff drink.
It has long been rumored that the Queen enjoyed a tightly scheduled four drinks a day: one just before lunch, two at lunch, and a glass of Champagne just before bed. Buckingham Palace didn't respond when I tried to verify those claims, but what does seem true is that her favorite cocktail was a relatively simple one: Gin and Dubonnet on the rocks with a slice of lemon.
Dubonnet was first created in 1846 by Sir Joseph Dubonnet, a French wine merchant who combined red wine with a unique blend of herbs and spices to create what we now call an "aromatized" wine. (Aromatized wines are fortified wines flavored with herbs and spices.) The exact recipe is, of course, a closely guarded secret, but quinine, made from the bark of the cinchona tree, is a key ingredient, along with blackcurrant, tea leaves, and 100% pure cane sugar.
I've always enjoyed Dubonnet. The flavor is fruity, with a spare hint of bitterness. It's not too far removed from red vermouth, especially the vivacious examples produced in northern Italy. Mixed with gin, as the Queen preferred, it makes for a refreshing cocktail that is likely best enjoyed around 11 a.m. just before meeting your newest prime minister.
Aside from cocktails, the Queen is also well known for enjoying Champagne. Multiple Champagne producers carried the Royal Warrant. A Royal Warrant is a mark of recognition for providing goods to the Queen and the royal family. While most of the major brands you'll find on store shelves have been granted a Royal Warrant at one time or another, it's perhaps easiest to see on the bottles from Champagne Pol Roger. You'll find the warrant's gold emblem located on the front of the bottle, just a few inches above the front label.
Pol Roger received its Royal Warrant in 1877 from Queen Victoria, and it has been a favorite of the monarchs ever since. It was served at Prince Charles' wedding to Princess Diana and at the weddings of both Prince William and Prince Harry. Now with the Queen's death, it has two years to remove the Royal Warrant from its bottles or appeal to King Charles III for a new one. It's been a go-to of mine for years, and now knowing that it has such a royal pedigree, I'll feel even better about popping a cork.
As always, you can see what I'm drinking on Instagram at @sethebarlow and send your wine questions and quibbles to firstname.lastname@example.org