Tall order: Finding a glass big enough for a gin rickey

July 17, 1996|By ROB KASPER

SEEKING RELIEF from the heat and humidity, I searched the kitchen for a tall, clean glass. It had to be a glass big enough to hold a gin rickey, the elixir I rely on to carry me through Maryland summers.

There are two essential components of this drink. First, you must use the juice of anentire lime. Lime wedges won't do. Nor can you use juice that comes from one of those lime colored bottles. To enjoy this concoction you gotta squeeze some fruit and toss the rinds in the glass.

The other essential is a large glass. None of those little juice glasses, or 6-ounce numbers, will suffice. Those containers are so small that drinks almost evaporate in them. A rickey requires a vessel that can handle 10 or 12 ounces -- liquids in double digits. In addition, the glass must be willing to accommodate a small mountain of ice cubes.

It helps if the glass is tall. This enables the imbiber to watch the upward movement of club soda bubbles as they swim to the top the glass.Depending on what kind of day they have had, rickey drinkers have been known to watch the bubbles swim for hours at a time.

The ingredients of the drink -- a whole lime, a fistful of ice cubes, a jigger of gin, and a healthy dose of club soda -- need their space. This drink, by the way, is equally thirst-quenching without the gin. But it loses its sedative effects.

There are two types of glasses, the tall Collins glass and the big old-fashioned glass, that meet rickey requirements. I knew that last summer our household had several such glasses. But the other evening I was having trouble finding a drinking vessel that was bigger than 4 ounces, wasn't made of plastic, and wasn't a giveaway from a fast-food restaurant.

I pawed through the kitchen cupboards, then the dishwasher, then the dirty dishes in the sink. I recalled that we used to have an entire set of four, rickey-caliber, big old-fashioned glasses. I called them the "Hopkins" glasses, because they were decorated with images of noteworthy buildings of Johns Hopkins University. I got them a few years ago for judging a university-sponsored picnic-making contest.

William C. Richardson, who was then president of Hopkins, was there and brought food, but he didn't win the contest. A few months later he suddenly left the university. Some observers have speculated Richardson left Hopkins because he got a better job, head of the Kellogg Foundation. Maybe so. But I think the picnic contest might have also been a factor in the move.

The other night I came to the realization that not only had the president moved on, so had the Hopkins glasses. Three of them had vamoosed. There was one survivor, and it was looking pretty faded.

I blame three factors for the disappearance of the glasses. The first is our kitchen floor. It is made of ceramic tile. It is tough and durable. It is not forgiving. If you drop a cereal bowl, coffee cup, or glass on this floor, there's no chance you can pick it up "on the rebound." Instead you get the broom.

Another factor is the automatic dishwasher. Dishwashers are wonderful inventions. They clean dishes and give you a place to store dirty ones. But they exact a toll. All that heat, all that loading and unloading, increase the chances that any item that visits a dishwasher is going to end up cracked or broken.

The third factor is the division of labor in our household. Lately, our boys, 15 and 11, have been unloading the dishwasher and setting the supper table. The good part about having kids help around the house is that they share the responsibility of running a household. A drawback is that you lose a lot of dishes. They either vanish from the earth, or show up in unusual places in the kitchen.

Lately I have noticed that metal measuring spoons can no longer be found in their rightful home, the drawer holding metal cooking utensils. Instead they appear either in the silverware drawer, or in the "miscellaneous" drawer, a drawer that has experienced a dramatic jump in population since we moved to the new division of labor arrangement.

There is a possibility that my big rickey glasses have not vamoosed. They could be in exile, tucked behind the serving bowls or lurking behind the skillets.

But, just in case, I now wash my one surviving rickey glass by hand. And I hide it. If I am going to make it through the long, sticky summer, I must have my tall, fat glass.

Rob Kasper's column runs every Wednesday in A La Carte and on Saturday and Sunday in the Today section.

Pub Date: 7/17/96

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