Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Mr. John Collins

I had the absolute pleasure of having Amanda (@winenshine) and John come into the bar last night. As usual the company was delightful and I was able to stretch my bartender legs a bit with a few cocktails that they asked me to make for them. If you haven't had a chance to read Amanda's work as a contributor to The Spir.it website you need to. Here is a link to her articles: Amanda on Spir.it

I made a Vieux Carre for John and since I wasn't able to make one for myself with the necessary ingredients. When I do, I'll post about it. For Amanda, I made a perfect Manhattan and the drink that I list in the title: A John Collins.

Now the history behind the family of Collins drinks (and if you haven't noticed there are more Collins drinks than Michael Keaton clones in Multiplicity) dates back to the 1830's to a pair of Irish songwriting brothers. According to David Wondrich in his book Imbibe, Charles and Frank Sheridan (grandsons of Anglo-Irish playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan) wrote a nice little ditty which included the following verse:
"My name is John Collins, headwaiter at Limmer's,
Corner of Conduit Street, Hanover Square,
My chief occupation is filling brimmers
For all the young gentlemen frequenters there."
As the verse states, Limmer's Hotel was located in Hanover Square, London on the corner of Conduit and George Streets. For an interesting description of what kind of place Limmer's Hotel was (is?), check out the following paragraph from Chapter XXV of Edward Walford's Hanover Square and Neighbourhood in the Old and New London: Volume 4 published in 1878 and located on the British History Online Digital Library Resource:
At the corner of Conduit Street and George Street is Limmer's Hotel, once an evening resort for the sporting world; in fact, it was a midnight "Tattersall's," where nothing was heard but the language of the turf, and where men with not very clean hands used to make up their books. "Limmer's," says a popular writer, "was the most dirty hotel in London; but in the gloomy, comfortless coffee-room might be seen many members of the rich squirearchy, who visited London during the sporting season. This hotel was frequently so crowded that a bed could not be had for any amount of money; but you could always get a good plain English dinner, an excellent bottle of port, and some famous gin-punch."
That sounds like my kind of place. Wondrich says that the gin-punch served at Limmer's eventually got the Tom Collins name attached to it. Digging a little deeper, Gary Regan in his article The Cocktailian: The story behind the story of a drink with no name states:
The drink known as the John Collins was made with aged - oude - genever gin, a Dutch product with a whisky-ish body and subtle juniper notes. By the mid-1870s, though, a similar drink, this one calling for Old Tom, a sweetened gin, had been born. Enter Tom Collins - named, quite obviously, for the style of gin it employed. Fruit of the loins of John Collins.
Alrighty then. Now we're rolling along but I have a bit of a confusion here. If the original John aka Tom Collins was made with Genever and later Old Tom gin, when did it gain Bourbon instead of Gin. Could it have been once the recipe crossed the pond from London to the United States? Using Bourbon as an American Twist on the classic recipe? I'm not sure. I'll keep looking it up. But back to Amanda's cocktail. Here's the recipe from Drinksmixer.com:
John Collins
2oz bourbon whiskey used Wild Turkey
1oz fresh lemon juice
1tsp superfine sugar
3oz club soda
1 maraschino cherry
1 slice orange

In a shaker half-filled with ice cubes, combine the bourbon, lemon juice, and sugar. Shake well. Strain into a collins glass almost filled with ice cubes. Add the club soda. Stir and garnish with the cherry and the orange slice.

I like it!!! Here is how it breaks down to the tongue. It was very effervescent due to the club soda, tart due to the lemon, sweet sugar and nice and strong due to the Wild Turkey. The best that I can describe it as being a beefed up bourbon-lemon flavored version of an Orangina. They still make Orangina?

Thanks to Amanda for recommending it. Need to add it to the database of go to cocktails.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla