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It's a very odd thing to put in your mouth. It's the sort of thing meths drinkers would recognise: powerful, alcoholic and somehow carbolic. It's drunk without ice
Somerset Maugham mentions it in his various tales of the South Seas, compelling and luxuriant reading all - if somewhat mean and clinically observed they be. I would love to find myself sat in deep buttoned leather chairs around a teak table in the company of Maugham, Evelyn Waugh and Hector Munro (better known as Saki). You'd be hard pressed to find a more vicious bunch of louche, literary bastards.
It's the sort of thing planters drank to while away the boredom, lift the spirits or cleanse the weary soul. The air in Raffles must have been heavy with its odour. A few of those and you could forget the sultry heat, the soddenness of everything and the sullen glares of the beaten natives.
Pahit is Malay for 'bitter'. Gin bitter is made so by the addition of Angostura, a deeply odd drink which actually hails from Venezuela via Trinidad, which is where it's currently made. It was invented as a stomach tonic for Bolivar's army.
I'm re-reading Alexander Frater's Beyond the Blue Horizon, a travelogue that retraces the Eastern Empire Route of Imperial Airways from Croydon to Brisbane. The drink gets a mention and reminded me I had been curious about it when it came up in Maugham's stories. It's also known as a pink gin although properly composed, as above, it's not pink but a sort of poisonous maroon.
It's growing on me. I might be 'going jungly'...