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36. Gerry Dawes's Spain: An Insider's Guide to Spanish Food, Wine, Culture and Travel

"My good friend Gerry Dawes, the unbridled Spanish food and wine enthusiast cum expert whose writing, photography, and countless crisscrossings of the peninsula have done the most to introduce Americans—and especially American food professionals—to my country's culinary life. . .” - - Chef-restaurateur-humanitarian José Andrés, Nobel Peace Prize Nominee and Oscar Presenter 2019; Chef-partner of Mercado Little Spain at Hudson Yards, New York 2019


The Ultimate Gin & Tonics, The Bazaar by José Andrés at the SLS Hotel, Beverly Hills and Dicken's Bar in San Sebastián

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José Andrés with his "The Ultimate Gintonic," made with Hendrick's gin and Fever Tree tonic water,
Bar Blanca at The Bazaar by José Andrés at the SLS Hotel, Beverly Hills. 
Photo by Gerry Dawes ©2010.

Gintonics, as they are known in Spain, have been the official drink of off-duty Spanish chefs for years.  I suspect this right-of-passage libation really became a religion during the ten years that Rafael García Santos was staging his annual Lo Mejor de la Gastronómía chefs conference in San Sebastián (the conference has moved to Alicante).  I don't normally drink Gintonics, unless I find myself in San Sebastián, where I always manage to have one at Dicken's, a terrific cocktail bar on La Alameda, or coincidentally, in Alicante, sitting out on the Explanada with my friends, Chef María José San Román and Pitu Perramón, her husband. 

María José San Román and Gerry having Gintonics on La Explanada in Alicante.

My gin of choice is Hendrick's (who can resist the imagery of a gin made with a cucumber and a rose), the tonic water Fever Tree.

Fever Tree tonic water at The Bazaar by José Andrés at the SLS Hotel, Beverly Hills.
All photos by Gerry Dawes ©2010.

Until Sunday night in Los Angeles, the best Gintonic I had ever had was at Dicken's, where owner-and-cocktail champion barman Joaquín Fernández or his assistant, Juanjo, make one Hell of a fine Gintonic--with the gin of your choice--for a cool 14 Euros!

I was supposed to have dinner with José Andrés at The Bazaar on Sunday night, May 16, but Andrés had to take a later flight, so I had dinner at the bar in the Rojo section of Bazaar, where Chef Josh Whigham continued the parade of excellent traditional and modern tapas that we had begun on Saturday night.  I finished dinner and waited for José, whom I have known for many years (see Food Arts Silver Spoon Award below, which was written by José).  By then it was 11 p.m. and José was in no mood for an interview, so we moved to the Bar in the Blanca section of the restaurant and ordered two "The Ultimate Gin & Tonics," made with Hendrick's Gin and Fever Tree Tonic.

What an ephiphany!  It was not only the best Gintonic I have tasted, it was certainly the most beautiful, with a circle of lime, a big oblong strip of lemon peel and a red flower blossom.   We ordered a second, chatted a while, then José agreed to meet the next morning and he headed for bed.  I stayed on to finish my Gintonic and tell Clio, one of the bartenders, how I make my real favorite drink, my "World Famous Margarita."

"The Ultimate Gin & Tonic," made with Hendrick's gin and Fever Tree tonic water,
The Bazaar by José Andrés at the SLS Hotel, Beverly Hills.
All photos by Gerry Dawes ©2010.
About Gerry Dawes

Gerry Dawes was awarded Spain's prestigious Premio Nacional de Gastronomía (National Gastronomy Award) in 2003. He writes and speaks frequently on Spanish wine and gastronomy and leads gastronomy, wine and cultural tours to Spain. He was a finalist for the 2001 James Beard Foundation's Journalism Award for Best Magazine Writing on Wine, won The Cava Institute's First Prize for Journalism for his article on cava in 2004, was awarded the CineGourLand “Cinéfilos y Gourmets” (Cinephiles & Gourmets) prize in 2009 in Getxo (Vizcaya) and received the 2009 Association of Food Journalists Second Prize for Best Food Feature in a Magazine for his Food Arts article, a retrospective piece about Catalan star chef, Ferran Adrià.

". . .That we were the first to introduce American readers to Ferran Adrià in 1997 and have ever since continued to bring you a blow-by-blow narrative of Spain's riveting ferment is chiefly due to our Spanish correspondent, Gerry "Mr. Spain" Dawes, the messianic wine and food journalist raised in Southern Illinois and possessor of a self-accumulated doctorate in the Spanish table. Gerry once again brings us up to the very minute. . ." - - Michael & Ariane Batterberry, Editor-in-Chief/Publisher and Founding Editor/Publisher, Food Arts, October 2009.

Mr. Dawes is currently working on a reality television
series on wine, gastronomy, culture and travel in Spain.

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