As the heat wave cooking the country drifts eastward, even resolute neat whiskey drinkers reach for the cocktail book. It’s brutal out there. A man needs something properly thirst-quenching in front of him. Beer can cause unwanted napping and nonalcoholic options are, well, unthinkable. No, the thermometer demands something served over ice, not too boozy, with restorative fizz, and a refreshing, citrusy zing. Something like a Tom Collins, the hoary gin concoction that’s been around long enough to christen the glassware it’s served in (a Collins glass). Like many classic cocktails, its origins are convoluted, and the competing legends aren’t worth dissecting here. More importantly, it suffered from decades of “sour mix” and seltzer water shot from bar guns, and is well-deserving of redemption. Done right, with quality ingredients (the key for any simple cocktail), the heat-beating virtues of a Tom Collins are unrivaled. Non-gin drinkers (you band of squalid unfortunates) may sub the gin for whiskey (John Collins), brandy (Brandy Collins), or—gulp—vodka (Vodka Collins), or what you will.
(In “Professor” Jerry Thomas’ 1862 How To Mix Drinks, he calls for gin—likely genever—with 6-dashes of gum syrup. A more popularized recipe soon emerged using Old Tom Gin, a popular, lightly sweetened gin. We heartily endorse its use in a Collins, but if you prefer the taste of London Dry, follow the parentheticals)
2-ounces Hayman’s Old Tom Gin (Beefeater)
½ ounce fresh lemon juice
½ ounce simple syrup (¾ ounce)
¾ ounce Fever Tree Club Soda
Instructions: Build in a Collins glass filled with ice. Fill with soda water. Stir briefly. Garnish with a lemon wheel and a cherry.