The Collins template of drinks spans all spirits — the most notable being the “Tom Collins.”
The father of American cocktails, Jerry Thomas, once described the gin based cocktail as, “a sparkling lemonade spiked with a healthy dose of the juniper spirit.”
I remember being very young and hearing my grandmother ask for a Tom Collins at a family party. When I started making variations of the drink as a bartender that memory flooded back and really made me think about the drink.
If you’re not a fan of gin or think the drink is too old fashioned (something your grandparents drank) then you’re missing out. The ingredients are simple and it is a very refreshing cocktail.
1 1/2oz gin
3/4oz fresh lemon juice
3/4oz simple syrup
Preparing The Tom Collins:
Make the simple syrup by bringing one cup of sugar and one cup of water to a simmer until the solution is clear. Cool and store in the refrigerator.
Shake the ingredients. Add soda water to the shaker and strain over fresh ice in a highball or Collins glass. Garnish with a large lemon wedge or slice.
The Coleman Twist
For my twist on this cocktail legend we are going to do a tea infusion and use vodka as the base spirit. Don’t overspend on your vodka here. Absolut works just fine. For the tea, I use “Stash” Meyer Lemon Tea. You can find it on Amazon or play around with what you find at your local grocer.
It takes about two tea bags per bottle to infuse. I usually rip the staple off the tea bag and tie up the ripped bag with the original string so that the tea isn’t loose. Add two bags of tea to one bottle of vodka and let steep for about half a day before use.
I haven’t found that I need to take the bags out even after long periods. We’ll up the simple syrup in the recipe to balance the citrus flavors you get from the tea and fresh lemon juice.
1 1/2oz Meyer Lemon Tea infused vodka
3/4oz fresh lemon juice
1oz simple syrup
Preparing the tea infused Collins:
Shake the ingredients. Then add soda water to the shaker and strain over fresh ice in a highball or Collins glass. Garnish with a large lemon wedge or slice.
The author Joe Coleman is the Lead Mixologist at the Southold boutique catering company Grace & Grit. His focus is on creating craft cocktails with fresh, homemade ingredients for both large-scale events and entertaining at home. Follow his cocktail adventures on Instagram @doublespeak_cocktails or contact him for your own event email@example.com.