Our friend Joe seems to have had a particularly difficult month of June and requested that I do weekly cocktails for a while. If people dig this, I’ll keep it up; anyone who knows me knows that I’ll use any excuse to try a new cocktail. =)
The first time I heard of a Tom Collins was when my mother told me the story of how she and my dad met. They were in a bar (where I believe a lot of good couples meet) in San Jose, California and she said, “he wanted to buy me a drink and I remember he came to ask me what it was I would have. I was drinking Tom Collins back then.” I liked that she talked of a period of her life when she had a drink that she drank exclusively; I think it lends a strange romance to the story and somehow captures time — even crystallizes it. My mom has little or no idea of how good a story teller she is, and I often wonder if she learned the art from my dad, who was exceptional at regaling an audience with hilarious vignettes. The major difference between their styles, I would say, is that my mom includes little details that, on the surface, seem of little importance, but that add a richness to scenes that play out from her words.
Turns out that the Tom Collins is a pretty terrific cocktail, if you make it yourself. When you get them in most bars these days, they hand you a glass filled with cloyingly sweet sour mix, some gin (or vodka, if you order a Vodka Collins), a splash of soda, and a maraschino cherry. I can’t resist keeping the cherry, as it gives the drink a vintage feel and it is most assuredly what garnished my mom’s 1962 cocktails, but I change up the mixer. I think you’ll find my version light, refreshing, and dangerously drinkable.
In a shaker or cocktail pitcher, combine:
1 cup of ice
Juice from 1 lemon
Juice from 1/2 orange
1 tablespoon of simple syrup
Gin to ice level (or vodka, for Vodka Collins)
Stir the ingredients together until the the syrup is dissolved into the rest of the mix, then strain into a highball glass filled with ice. Top off with:
a maraschino cherry
an orange slice
Hey, there, summer!