Russ and I got into his little Simca and headed north. We had intended to make it to Hanover in Northern Germany by the end of the day. That plan did not work. We wandered into a gambling casino in Bad Durkheim, which was the Great Britain controlled part of Germany in 1958. The casino looked like it had not been touched by the war at all. It had fluted columns and waiters dressed in tuxedos.
The man and women were also dressed in their finest. Russ and I were dressed in our crappy civilian clothes that we had bought off the rack at the PX (Post Exchange). We were certainly out of place, but no one threw us out or made any disparaging remarks in either English or German (I do speak a bunch of German).
One of the waiters approached us. I thought that he might ask us to leave or go get a tuxedo. He asked us in British accented English what our drink order would be. Since my drinking up to that point had been beer, Steinhager, and cognac, I was not prepared to offer any kind of answer. Russ, of course, coming from California, asked for some esoteric drink (I think it was scotch on the rocks). Stupid me, I asked the waiter what the specialty of the house was (at this point in my life, I realize how dumb that is).
He looked at me in a most peculiar manner. It appeared that he took my question seriously. He was not offended, he was truly gracious. He told me that the bartender makes the best gin and tonics that he had ever tasted. I was surely impressed. He wondered if I wanted a specific gin. I told him that I would rely on the bartender to do his best. He smiled and walked away.
Meanwhile, Russ was wandering around looking at the tables to see what kind of games they were playing. I did see Baccarat and a roulette wheel and a number of card games that I did not recognize. Anyway, I did not have enough dough to play, so I just watched. I believe Russ put a couple of marks down on the roulette table. He did not win.
After a while, the waiter came back with our drinks. I saw Russ take his off the tray, so I did not have to guess which one was mine. It was in a clear 6 oz. glass with ice, clear liquid and a piece of lime balanced on the lip of the cup. The waiter said, “That will be one mark please,” to each of us. Now there were 4 marks to a dollar in those days, so it was a quarter. I gave the waiter a mark and then placed another one in his hand. Russ did the same thing. The waiter smiled, kind of bowed and then left us I did not see him for the rest of time that we were there.
So, there I was with an adult drink in my hand. The stirrer was made of glass and was colored at the end. I did manage to take it along with me and maybe even took it home, when I got out of the service. I was apprehensive about tasting the drink. My first reaction was surprise. Not only had I never had this drink, but I had never had the components separately. The gin was smooth as it could be going down my throat. The tonic water (quinine) was almost to perfect a companion to the gin.
I was addicted after the first swallow. I have been addicted ever since. The only changes that I have made as I got older, was to change my gin to Gordon’s, then to Beefeaters and now to Tanqueray 10. The last gin almost taste like juniper berries. I keep a bottle of it in my freezer. My brother told me to do it. I still talk to Russ and have visited with him in California. He still drinks scotch. As you can see, I still am in love with gin and tonics.