While I have long been a wine or cider drinker, I was recently infected with a friend's passion for mixing cocktails and became determined to learn to do it myself. I want to be able to delight people with new creations and comfort them with an old favorite done just right.
The first suggestion I received on my list (thanks Stephen!) was a better version of a drink I've loved for a very long time. As a young drinker who often lived through unairconditioned summers I regularly mixed store bought lemonade with citrusy gin.
The gin of choice as a young person was Tanqueray, it was smooth, drinkable and not incredibly expensive. I didn't like the dry taste of a lot of London gins, such as Blue Sapphire.
I was floored when I began assembling the Tom Collins and realized it was a more refined, more adult version of my old friend. Now that I have come into the light, I don't expect that I could manage the college version again. I have seen what the new world holds and it is beautiful. Okay, maybe I'm getting a bit dramatic.
This drink is light and sweet, citrus and tart, bubbly and approachable. I imagine the ideal way to drink this is with an exceptional amount of ice while sitting on a porch enjoying a warm summer evening. Even my partner - who normally makes pained faces at any gin cocktail I hand him, but politely keeps trying them - grabbed the glass and ran off to enjoy it, forcing me to make myself another. Truly, not the worst thing that could have happened.
My only warning is not to cheap out when it comes to squeezing your citrus fresh. I've tried bottled and things just don't come out the same. Whole lemons/ limes and a hand press are all cheap and excellent investments.
- .75 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice
- .75 oz rich simple syrup (2 parts sugar, 1 part water)
- 1.5 oz gin (I prefer Tanqueray Rangpur or Botanist)
- Club Soda
Add the lemon juice, simple syrup and gin to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake well and strain into a highball or Collins glass filled with fresh ice. Top with club soda and garnish with a lemon wheel and a cherry.
Since the evening was near the beginning of Mardi Gras and my drink recommending friend was stuck hosting a hotel desk in Baton Rouge it seemed like the best thing to do was cook some Louisiana inspired food to go along with the cocktail. I can't take credit for the shrimp gumbo though, so thank you to my better half for creating dinner while I created drinks.