At Tin House, Alexander Chee reflects on his affinity for gin and how over the years, in various permutations alongside vermouth in cocktails like martinis and negronis, it has more than kept him company, becoming “almost a travel companion.”

My first taste of gin made me sick. I was fifteen or sixteen, and, on a night I’d been left alone, and for reasons now lost to me, I drank down a great deal of my parents’ Tanqueray. I remember specifically opening the exotic wood doors of their liquor cabinet as if it could admit me to some secret chamber of adulthood by virtue of its magic.

He was being polite, I think, when he agreed to come up to the party. I should mention that I was wearing a Viking helmet when I issued the invitation. He was not known to socialize with the visiting writers. He requested a…

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