This past St. Patrick’s Day, I was sitting with my dad in the bar at the Chena Hot Springs Lodge, about 60 miles outside of Fairbanks, Alaska. We had been together for a week already, and had kind of run out of small talk, so we were just kind of sitting there quietly, sipping our hot toddies, checking out the various taxidermied animals on the walls, and enjoying our post-hot springs soak state of relaxation.
I don’t really know why this occurred to me at that particular moment, but out of the blue, I said to my dad: “Hey Dad, remember that phase I went through when I was about eight or nine years old, when all I would drink was Tom Collins Mixer?”
My dad furrowed his brow and looked askance at me. “Tom Collins Mixer?” he said, like he’d never heard of it.
“Yeah, the mixer for a Tom Collins cocktail. It came in a green bottle, like tonic water. I think Schweppes made it. Remember, I used to ask for cases of it for my birthday?”
Then, he started to laugh, and said, yeah, he remembered something about that, and we proceeded to try to remember how I had been introduced to it in the first place (we think it was probably Uncle Frank’s doing), what a peculiar kid I was to get addicted to Tom Collins Mixer at age eight, and pondered if one could still buy the stuff, or if the Tom Collins had gone totally out of style. It was really good, tasted kind of like carbonated SweeTarts.
As we were talking, the cute young bartendress (who didn’t look old enough to drink legally) went and sat in the corner with a tattered old bartender’s guide. We didn’t pay that much attention to her, really. But after a bit, she came over and set a tall glass of something fizzy and vaguely lemony-looking down in front of me and said “Let me know if this is it.”
The girl had gone and looked up the recipe for a Tom Collins in her book, and made me a glass of the mixer from scratch! How sweet is that? I was so touched, that I kept to myself that she had missed the mark entirely, and told her she had made it just right. We have to reward effort, right? That’s customer service — give your people what they want before they even ask for it.
Since then, I’ve been thinking I should lead a one-woman campaign to bring back the Tom Collins in time for Summer. So, I hereby officially declare it the QP Cocktail of the Summer for 2013! You’re going to love it. It’s really quite light, zesty and refreshing. I prefer the vodka variety to the classic with gin, but you do what you want.
As it appears that neither Schweppes nor Canada Dry makes Collins Mixer anymore, here’s a poncey British video on how to make a proper Tom Collins from scratch, which I chose mostly because I think the bartender demonstrating for the camera is super adorable — check out that sizzlin’ look at 2:14 when he pours the gin in the shaker! I have to take issue with the lack of a maraschino cherry as garnish–that is an absolute requirement for a Tom Collins. But, otherwise, this looks delicious, as does “Mauro”:
Who’s with me?!