John Collins

John Collins
The Juice of 1/2 Lemon. (Juice 1/2 Lemon)
1/2 Tablespoonful Powdered Sugar. (1/4 oz Rich Simple Syrup)
1 glass Hollands Gin. (2 oz Bols Genever)
Shake well and strain into long tumbler. Add 1 lump ice and split of soda water

The last of the Collins family, for Savoy purposes, is the “John Collins”. I guess the interesting part is that in modern bar nomenclature, if you ordered a John Collins you’d likely get a Bourbon Collins, not a Genever Collins. It’s true that Genevers were rather thin on the ground for most of the 20th Century and that during most of that time, London Dry Gin was the dominant style. If you ordered a Genever Collins, you would likely get a blank look. Even in Europe, where Genever was still available, not many people were mixing with it.

Actually, strike that, as far as I know, no one was mixing with it.

To be honest, I’m not super sold on the John Collins as a good use for Genever. Because Genever doesn’t have the botanical intensity of London Dry or Old Tom, it doesn’t have a huge impact in the drink. Basically tastes like boozy, fizzy lemonade. There’s a little maltiness from the Genever, but it doesn’t have much presence in the drink.

It’s perfectly fine, but it doesn’t sell itself. You can definitely see why Genever went by the wayside for drinks of this nature.

No, if you’re going to mix with Genever, make yourself an Improved Holland Gin Cocktail or a Holland House. Those are drinks where the Genever shines.

In the previous Tom Collins Whisky post, I mentioned that I should try making a Collins with unaged Whisk(e)y.

So as a bonus round, I made a half Collins with the Low Gap Clear Whiskey.

Wow, was that good!

I am a little dubious about the whole “White Whiskey” category, but the Low Gap really shines in a Tom Collins. Pot Still for the win!

Highly recommended, maybe my favorite Collins of the bunch.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the drinks in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, the, uh, Sauterne Cup.

Tom Collins Whisky

First, just a reminder that Sunday, May 22, 2011, is our monthly exercise in folly, Savoy Cocktail Book Night at Alembic Bar. If any of the cocktails, (they also have a great beer selection,) on this blog have captured your fancy, stop by after 6 and allow the skilled bartenders, (and me,) to make them for you. It is always a fun time.

Tom Collins Whisky
5 or 6 Dashes of Gomme Syrup. (1/4 oz Rich Simple Syrup)
The Juice of 1 Small Lemon. (3/4 oz Lemon Juice)
1 Large Wineglass Whisky. (2 oz Buffalo Trace Bourbon)
2 or 3 Lumps of Ice.
Use small bar glass.
Shake well and strain into a large bar glass (12 oz Schumann Glass, over a single large cube of ice). Fill up the glass with plain soda water and imbibe while it is lively.

Aside from the “Prepared Punches for Bottling”, The Collins family is another section in the 1887 Jerry Thomas, which was not in the original 1862 edition of the book.

Reproduced below, you can see that the Savoy editors lifted the Tom Collins Whisky directly from that edition, including the charming, “imbibe while it is lively.”

Tom Collins Whiskey.
(Use small bar-glass.)
Take 5 or 6 dashes of gum syrup.
Juice of a small lemon.
1 large wine-glass of whiskey.
2 or 3 lumps of ice.

Shake up well and strain into a large bar-glass. Fill up the glass with plain soda water and imbibe while it is lively.

Tom Collins Brandy.
(Use large bar-glass.)
The same as Tom Collins Whiskey, substituting brandy for whiskey.

Tom Collins Gin.
(Use large bar-glass.)
The same as Tom Collins Whiskey, substituting gin for whiskey.

Normally, modern bartenders will differentiate between the various Collins drinks by giving them different first names. Jose Collins is Tequila, Jack Collins is AppleJack, Michael Collins is Irish Whiskey, and so forth. Apparently at this early date, these names had not yet been codified and everything was just a Tom Collins with the spirit specified after.

Second point, even though these early versions of the Tom Collins were being made with sugar syrup, they were still being shaken.

The two glasses thing in the Savoy recipe is always a bit confusing, but in the Thomas recipe, it is a bit more clear that one is specifying the mixing glass (small) and the other the serving glass (large).

Another interesting point is that normally you’d write out the main recipe and then say, something like “made the same with Gin” for the variations. So in the case of Thomas, it seems like the Tom Collins Whiskey was the dominant drink, not the Tom Collins Gin (which would have been Genever, at that time).

Lastly, it doesn’t appear that Jerry Thomas is specifying that any ice be included in the serving glass of the Tom Collins Whiskey. I took the liberty of adding a big tovolo cube to my drink, as I prefer it that way, but it appears at that early date, even ice was optional. The only difference between a “Whisky Fiz” and a “Tom Collins Whisky” was the size of the serving glass and thus the amount of soda.

As far as the drink itself, as much as I like Whiskey, I didn’t find it as enjoyable as the Gin Tom Collins I had at Bar Agricole. Aged spirits and Lemon, especially Bourbon, I just don’t find as appealing in Citrus based drinks. Highballs, I don’t mind at all, but once you add that lemon, you usually lose me. Guess I should try it with some unaged Whisk(e)y!

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the drinks in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, the, uh, Sauterne Cup.

Tom Collins

First, just a reminder that Sunday, May 22, 2011, is our monthly exercise in folly, Savoy Cocktail Book Night at Alembic Bar. If any of the cocktails, (they also have a great beer selection,) on this blog have captured your fancy, stop by after 6 and allow the skilled bartenders, (and me,) to make them for you. It is always a fun time.

Tom Collins
The Juice of 1/2 Lemon.
1/2 Tablespoonful Powdered Sugar.
1 Glass Dry Gin.
Shake well and strain into long tumbler. Add 1 lump ice and split of soda water.

The Tom Collins above was prepared by Rosa at the excellent bar and restaurant Bar Agricole, using Leopold’s Gin. I didn’t get the exact measurements, but she said something like, “Leopold’s Gin, 2-1, with dashes of house made stonefruit bitters.” They were very busy and I didn’t want to hassle her too much. Anyway, it was a delightful and refreshing quaff, I highly recommend stopping Bar Agricole for their Tom Collins, (or their great food.)

I’ve covered the history of the Tom Collins before, in the post about the Conduit Street Punch, so I won’t repeat that information. Short version, the Collins probably started a long time ago as a proper Gin Punch based on Dutch Gin (aka Genever), by the late 19th Century it was a long drink madeĀ  Old-Tom Gin, lemon, sugar and soda. By the 1930s, Old Tom was largely extinct and Tom Collins were being made with plain old London Dry Gin.

Sometimes we’ll get asked about the difference between this drink and that during our Savoy Night events. What’s the difference between a Daisy and the Fix or what exactly is the difference between a Collins and a Gin Fizz? I mean aside from the fact that a Tom Collins is served in a Collins glass and a Gin fizz in Gin Fizz Glass?

As we’ll see in a couple weeks, this is the recipe for a Gin Fizz:

Gin Fizz
The Juice of 1/2 Lemon.
1/2 Tablespoonful Powdered Sugar.
1 Glass Gin.
Shake well, strain into medium size glass and fill with syphon soda water.

That’s, yes, pretty much exactly the same ingredients, the same amounts, and nearly the same instructions as for the Tom Collins.

Many modern bartenders will differentiate that the Collins is built in the glass, while the Fizz is shaken and strained. However, it appears that this was not the case at the time the Savoy Cocktail Book was written (or before). Though the Savoy bartenders were apparently using teaspoons of dry sugar, so they really had no choice but to shake.

No, the big difference, as far as I can tell, is that the Collins is usually served over ice, while the fizz is served without ice.

But the other elephant in the room is how much soda is needed to “fill” either the Tom Collins Glass or the Gin Fizz Glass?

While the Savoy Cocktail Book was not particularly detail oriented regarding glassware (or garnishes, or much of anything,) fortunately another book published at around the same time, Patrick Gavin Duffy’s “The Official Mixer’s Manual,” was. He goes so far as to give the reader an illustrated guide to glassware and then indicate with every drink recipe which glass it should be served in. And, even better, he gives some volumes for the glassware.

In the figure above, glass number 10 is the Tom Collins glass, while glass number 12 is what Duffy calls the “Eight Oz. Highball”. This is the glass he directs you to use for fizzes. So if the illustration is to scale, and the “Highball” holds Eight Ounces, it looks like the Tom Collins Glass holds about 12-14 Ounces.

With “One Lump of Ice”, you are getting a lot more soda, almost an entire 10 oz split probably, in your Tom Collins, making it a much milder drink than a Gin Fizz. So that’s the difference, not the Gin, not the lemon, not the sugar, but the size of the glass, the ice, and the amount of soda.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the drinks in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, the, uh, Sauterne Cup.