The Tom Collins

"A long drink to be consumed slowly with reverence and meditation" - David Embury "The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks"

This drink will be the focus of my first post for the simple reason that it was the thing that I wanted to drink the most yesterday, when London temperatures sky rocketed.

It should be a simple, refreshing and elegant cocktail but because of its relative simplicity, far too often even the most experienced bartenders underestimate it, resulting in a sloppy drink.

It is essentially a “sour” style cocktail served in a tall glass filled with ice, charged with soda. Being a “sour” means that it has a citrus base balanced with a sweetening agent with a healthy measure of liquor to boot.
Gin is the base spirit. Originally it would have been an Old Tom gin (essentially a sweetened London Dry Gin), nowadays, a London Dry Gin is most widely used.

This drink has also spawned a special glass in which it should be prepared. You guessed it – the Collins glass. These are the tallest of the highball family ranging anywhere from 12 -16oz. If you go larger than a 14oz glass, you may want to add more lemon and sugar than I have included in our recipe below to avoid watering the drink down too much.

Here is how we would go about preparing two. Two because I hate drinking alone – and if I am, I will need more than one to console my lonely heart.

Ingredients:

100ml gin
45ml sugar syrup (1:1)
40ml fresh squeezed lemon juice (half lemon approx.)
fresh soda water

Method:

Measure all ingredients (except soda) in to a cocktail tin and shake with lots of fresh ice. Strain in to two 12oz Collins glasses freshly filled with ice, and top with soda. Stir each one briefly to mix well without losing the effervescence. Garnish with a thick lemon wedge (pips removed) and drink through a straw.

Recommended gin?

Beefeater for its beautiful citrus notes whilst bringing enough juniper so you don’t forget that it’s gin you’re drinking.

Twists

We’d encourage you to play around with the above recipe keeping the spirit quantity constant whilst you tinker with the lemon and sugar to get the balance you enjoy the most. You may want to save on the gin (and postpone drunken palate fatigue) whilst you tinker. But don’t let me spoil the fun.

Whilst you play with the drink (sans spirit), you have the added bonus of nailing your lemonade recipe – an essential part of your knowledge bank.

Once you’ve found your preferred balance, I recommend that you add a zesty depth to the drink by introducing a lemon wedge and some caster sugar (say a level bar spoon). Shake a bit longer than before and you give the caster sugar a chance to abrade the lemon wedge releasing some of the beautiful oils in to the drink. Now we’re talking.

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