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Gunga Din, Swank Cocktail #43

🏠 » Cocktails » Swank Cocktail Guide: 80 cocktails in 80 days

Gunga Din cocktail
Gunga Din cocktail

The Gunga Din is cocktail number 43 on the Swank Cocktail Guide.

Gunga Din history

“You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din.”

Gunga Din, the Poem

Gunga Din is a poem written in 1890 by Rudyard Kipling and published in Barrack-Room Ballads and Other Verses in 1892. In the poem, a British soldier is wounded in battle and Gunga Din, a water carrier, saves the soldier’s life, only to be shot and killed himself. The soldier regrets his harsh treatment of Din and in the famous final line states, “You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din.”

Rudyard Kipling, Barrack-Room Ballads and Other Verses (London : Methuen and Co., 1892), Third Edition p. 23, Gunga Din.
Rudyard Kipling, Barrack-Room Ballads and Other Verses (London : Methuen and Co., 1892), Third Edition, p. 23, Gunga Din. (Click to enlarge or view Gunga Din transcript below)

Gunga Din, the Film

Gunga Din, RKO Radio Picutres, 1939. Starring Cary Grant, Victor McLaglen, and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. Film available for viewing on Internet Archive.
Gunga Din, RKO Radio Picutres, 1939. Starring Cary Grant, Victor McLaglen, and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. Film available for viewing on Internet Archive.

In 1939, Gunga Din the movie, loosely based on the Rudyard Kipling poem, was produced by RKO Radio Pictures and starred Cary Grant, Victor McLaglen, and Douglas Fairbanks Jr.

Gunga Din, the cocktail

It is unknown whether the Gunga Din cocktail was inspired by the poem, the movie, or both. Obviously, as the Gunga Din cocktail recipe was number 43 on the Swank Cocktail Guide, the cocktail was invented in or prior to the 1950s.

Gunga Din, Downtown Abbey

Throughout the decades since the poem and movie, the famous last line has been used, or adapted, in songs, movies, and television shows. In recent times, it made at least three appearances in Downtown Abbey:

  • Season 1, Episode 5, Mr. Bates: “Then he’s a braver man than I am, Gunga Din.”
  • Season 3 Episode 7, Isobel Crawley: “Are you thinking of getting married, Dr. Clarkson? Because if you are, you’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din.”
  • Season 6, Episode 4, Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham to Tom Branson: “You’re a braver man than I am, Gunga Din.”

Gunga Din cocktail recipe

Gunga Din cocktail recipe
Gunga Din cocktail recipe

3/4 Dry Gin, 1/4 Dry Vermouth, 1 slice Pineapple, juice of 1/4 Orange. Shake well with ice & strain.

Ingredients used:

  • Hendrick’s Gin
  • Dolin Vermouth
  • Fresh pineapple
  • Fresh-squeezed orange juice

Gunga Din cocktail review

Our ratings (1-5 🍸)

Greg: 🍸🍸🍸🍸
Kim: 🍸🍸🍸🍸

The Gunga Din was good, but not as great as we had hoped based on the contents. Newer versions of the recipe include cardamom pods, which might add that little bit of pop it was lacking. Still a favorite, but more of a one and done, than a “I’ll have another.”

Next up… Cocktail # 44, Hurricane

Swank Cocktail Guide: 80 cocktails in 80 days

Gunga Din
by Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)

You may talk o’ gin an’ beer
When you’re quartered safe out ‘ere,
An’ you’re sent to penny-fights an’ Aldershot it;
But if it comes to slaughter
You will do your work on water,
An’ you’ll lick the bloomin’ boots of ‘im that’s got it.
Now in Injia’s sunny clime,
Where I used to spend my time
A-servin’ of ‘Er Majesty the Queen,
Of all them black-faced crew
The finest man I knew
Was our regimental bhisti, Gunga Din.

It was “Din! Din! Din!
You limping lump o’ brick-dust, Gunga Din!
Hi! slippy hitherao!
Water, get it! Panee lao!
You squidgy-nosed old idol, Gunga Din!”

The uniform ‘e wore
Was nothin’ much before,
An’ rather less than ‘arf o’ that be’ind,
For a twisty piece o’ rag
An’ a goatskin water-bag
Was all the field-equipment ‘e could find.
When the sweatin’ troop-train lay
In a sidin’ through the day,
Where the ‘eat would make your bloomin’ eyebrows crawl,
We shouted “Harry By!”
Till our throats were bricky-dry,
Then we wopped ‘im ’cause ‘e couldn’t serve us all.

It was “Din! Din! Din!
You ‘eathen, where the mischief ‘ave you been?
You put some juldee in it,
Or I’ll marrow you this minute,
If you don’t fill up my helmet, Gunga Din!”

‘E would dot an’ carry one
Till the longest day was done,
An’ ‘e didn’t seem to know the use o’ fear.
If we charged or broke or cut,
You could bet your bloomin’ nut,
‘E’d be waitin’ fifty paces right flank rear.
With ‘is mussick on ‘is back,
‘E would skip with our attack,
An’ watch us till the bugles made “Retire.”
An’ for all ‘is dirty ‘ide,
‘E was white, clear white, inside
When ‘e went to tend the wounded under fire!

It was “Din! Din! Din!”
With the bullets kickin’ dust-spots on the green.
When the cartridges ran out,
You could ‘ear the front-files shout:
Hi! ammunition-mules an’ Gunga Din!”

I sha’n’t forgit the night
When I dropped be’ind the fight
With a bullet where my belt-plate should ‘a’ been.
I was chokin’ mad with thirst,
An’ the man that spied me first
Was our good old grinnin’, gruntin’ Gunga Din.

‘E lifted up my ‘ead,
An’ ‘e plugged me where I bled,
An’ ‘e guv me ‘arf-a-pint o’ water—green;
It was crawlin’ an’ it stunk,
But of all the drinks I’ve drunk,
I’m gratefullest to one from Gunga Din.

It was “Din! Din! Din!
‘Ere’s a beggar with a bullet through ‘is spleen;
E’s chawin’ up the ground an’ ‘e’s kickin’ all around:
For Gawd’s sake, git the water, Gunga Din!”

‘E carried me away
To where a dooli lay,
An’ a bullet come an’ drilled the beggar clean.
‘E put me safe inside,
An’ just before ‘e died:
“I ‘ope you liked your drink,” sez Gunga Din.
So I’ll meet ‘im later on
In the place where ‘e is gone—
Where it’s always double drill and no canteen;
‘E’ll be squattin’ on the coals
Givin’ drink to pore damned souls,
An’ I’ll get a swig in Hell from Gunga Din!

Din! Din! Din!
You Lazarushian-leather Gunga Din!
Tho’ I’ve belted you an’ flayed you,
By the livin’ Gawd that made you,
You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din!

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