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.