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It’s Summer. It’s Hot. You’re Thirsty.

May 25, 2009

There are plenty of people who are going to tell you how to throw a party, grill burgers, make side dishes and desserts.  There will be thousands of pages written about what beers to drink, what wines to serve, and which cocktails to prepare.

I have a whole laundry list of cocktail posts on my to-do list.  But since summer is upon us, they will just have to wait.

And frankly, I don’t really care if you serve this at your Memorial Day party or not.  It’s summer, and if you do not know about this quaffer, it’s damn time you learned.

There are several great refreshing cocktails.  But many of them have shortcomings.  They have too many ingredients, are too potent, or require too much effort.

There is the Margarita.  But that really improves with salt.  And then there is all the shaking involved.  When it’s hot, I don’t even want to hold a frozen Boston shaker if it means I have to exert more energy.  Plus they are so small and potent that it’s easy to get sideswiped by this classic.  The same goes for the Hemingway/La Florida Daiquiri.

The Pimm’s Cup is refreshing and much less potent, so you can drink it like a soft drink to beat the heat.  It is especially good for a party if you want to mix up a big batch in advance.  But there is a lot of vegetation to deal with, and then there are the two types of soda.

The drink I am talking about has gotten a bad reputation over the years.  Bartenders have taken liberties.  Mixes have been marketed for use at home.  Let’s try to put all that aside and start from scratch.  Because this is one of the easiest, tastiest, most refreshing quaffers you can make.

Allow me to reintroduce you to the Tom Collins.

Tall glass.  Lots of ice.  Two ounces of your favorite gin – mine is good old fashioned Tanqueray.  The juice from half a lemon.  One teaspoon of sugar syrup.  Fill with soda.  Stir.  Be refreshed.

On a side note: If you think you do not like gin, please, buy a little airplane bottle of something good, try it in this cocktail, and get back to me.  I am committed to getting people comfortable with gin.  It’s important.  And I’ll work with anyone who needs extra assistance.

The idea is an adult fizzy lemonade.  Depending on the size of your glass, you may want more or less gin, additional lemon, and possibly more sugar.  Personally I like a drier drink.  Mrs. Fussy thinks all my cocktails are too tart.  I think all of her salads are under-dressed.  Yet we continue to get along.

How this simple drink could ever have fallen off the rails with sickly sour mix or the lemon flavored soda sold in supermarkets as Collins mix is beyond me.

The observant may note that this simple classic drink is the grandfather to the Mojito.  Change the gin to rum.  Swap the lemon for a lime.  Muddle in some mint and you have it.  And the Mojito is certainly a lovely and refreshing drink.

But when it’s hot, muddling is a lot of work.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. BenP permalink
    May 25, 2009 8:08 pm

    i haven’t made myself a Tom Collins in a long time! i do remember liking them, and then being sad that i would never be able to order them out.

    do you have a reputable Pimm’s Cup recipe? i never nailed down the exact contents. I like a Pimm’s with ginger ale, which may actually be a Pimm’s Rangoon.

    i never made a ‘classic’ daiquiri that i really enjoyed.

  2. nancy c permalink
    May 25, 2009 9:43 pm

    mmmmm love your drink recipes can’t wait to try the mojito

    and sorry to say i do like s’mores but we do them on the charcoal grill
    so no sand i think they taste better in the woods
    love the blog

  3. Ellen W. permalink
    May 25, 2009 9:52 pm

    Pimms is actually my favorite summer drink. I’ll make sure to try a Tom Collins next time I run out of 7up. I’ll let you know what I think.

    Thanks for being so fussy. I appreciate it.

  4. Raf permalink
    May 26, 2009 2:35 am

    Hmmm, making simple syrup requires work too. Also hot. Maybe swap out for superfine sugar (not powdered). A teaspoon of superfine would be about right. Your version sounds a bit tart, I’d go with 2-3 tsp of simple.

    A gin rickey is even easier and should be plenty tart for ya.

    We had Havana Club (smuggled in from Japan) mojitos today at the bbq. At least the mint was local:)

  5. May 26, 2009 8:41 am

    I always wonder how drink mixers looked so funny. Tom Collins mixes are that weird opaque pasty yellow. Margarita mixes are bright green. And the original mixes are nothing more than citrus juice, sugar syrup, and some water or soda.

  6. May 28, 2009 1:14 pm

    Question on simple syrup. Do always keep it on hand? When you make some, how long can you keep it? Just want to anticipate my thirst needs.

    • Spencer permalink
      June 7, 2009 12:20 pm

      I keep mine in the fridge indefinitely (though I run through a batch every 2 months or so). I think the high sugar concentration and cold preserve it quite well. I mean, have you ever thrown out maple syrup that has been in the fridge for too long? Not really… same deal. And yes I always keep some on hand because I drink an Old Fashioned as my go-to after work cocktail. Here’s my ritual:

      Get out rocks glass. Pour just enough simple syrup to cover bottom (maybe a little more if I want it more sweet). Shake 2 or 3 dashes of Fee’s Old Fashion bitters and stir until mixture is mostly uniform. Add some ice. Pour in bourbon or rye. Spoon cocktail cherry out of bottle, catching some of the juice, add this to glass and stir.

      I have only recently converted from Knob Creek, a favorite of the Profussor, to Bulleit which I like better. I’m experimenting though, most recently with Johhny Drum ($18/750ml). And no, nothing is muddled, and there’s definitely no club soda in my old fashioned. I don’t muddle because I often don’t have oranges around, and as a result I’ve become a fan of the simplicity of this preparation. Club soda? Enough said.


  7. Spencer permalink
    June 7, 2009 12:09 pm

    This week I made a Pompela:
    2oz Tanqueray gin
    2oz Fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
    1oz Dry vermouth
    1 Dash Peychaud’s bitters
    2 Dashes Stirrings blood orange bitters
    (The new Angostora Orange Bitters, if I had them, would be worth trying here)

    Combine all ingredients in pint glass over ice, shake, strain into chilled cocktail glass and garnish with twist of orange.

    My fiance had a drinkgasm when she tried this. Enjoy!

  8. Spencer permalink
    June 7, 2009 12:25 pm

    Regarding mojito techniques- I have sometimes substituted diet 7-Up for club soda and it’s pretty good actually. Someone who has been to Cuba (Raf?) correct me if I’m wrong, but in general Cubans like things sweet, and a lot of sugar goes into a traditional mojito. So this way you can get some sweetness without the sugar. What I often find is that few people put enough sugar in and then add club soda and the drink is too dry for my taste. Hence the diet 7-up.

  9. Mama Ass permalink
    June 29, 2009 4:22 pm

    Hey! So…about this syrup. Do you have a recipe or a good brand to recommend? As you know, I am very unfussy but am interested in becoming more fussy.

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