Last week we said farewell to my cousin Lee, who was taken from us far too soon. An army sergeant, his memorial service was full of flags, servicepeople and amazing banter. It was held early in the day, as per Lee’s wishes that we celebrate his short but jam-packed life with ‘banjos’, an army breakfast of a runny fried egg served in white bread. My uncle was telling me that the banjo gets its name from when the soldiers would spill the runny egg down their front, and brush it off with one hand, holding the sandwich out to their left or right side using the other. The stance and movement made it look like they were playing a banjo.
On the way home, I was reading about the sandwich’s history (it dates back to at least the time of the First World War), but I was fascinated to learn that back then, it was served with a mug of ‘Gunfire’, a drink made from black tea and a shot of rum. So what better way to re-launch this blog’s old ‘Discerning Drinking’ series with a lovely mug of Gunfire to toast Lee.
Making this drink is as simple as making a banjo. Black tea (I used breakfast tea) and a shot of rum – white or dark. We had no rum in the house, so I went to Tesco to buy a miniature of it (which looked quite odd at 10am in the morning). Make the tea as black as you can, then mix in the rum.
Not the greatest drink in the world, I’ll be honest. Its taste is indescribable and menacing, kind of like a fortified liqueur coffee, even when factoring in that I am neither a big fan of black tea or rum. It was consumed mainly to give soldiers courage (it was routinely offered in the trenches in the First World War). Lee wouldn’t have needed it then – he was the bravest guy I knew. Rest in peace.