A STORY THAT GAVE US ONE OF THE MOST POPULAR CLASSIC COCKTAILS
In 1874, the entire U.S. was in search of the ever elusive Tom Collins. While he was never to be found, the prank became quite prevalent. It was the birth of a practical joke that would run rampant and it went something like this.
A man would head to his local bar on a Friday night only to be asked by his friends, “Have you seen Tom Collins?” to which the answer was “No, why?”
His friends would then explain that a gentleman named Tom Collins was there not five minutes prior slandering his name. Irate, the victim would demand where this Tom Collins could be found to settle dispute.
“We heard he went to the next bar a couple of blocks away.” And so off the man would go to search for Mr. Collins.
Upon reaching the next bar, the man would ask the in-the-know barkeep, “Have you seen Tom Collins?”
“Sorry, you just missed him. I heard he was headed to the saloon around the corner.”
The search continued. Meanwhile, back at the local bar, his friends would laugh at their friend’s gullibility and toast his futile endeavour.
Slowly the joke caught on and soon newspapers were rife with sightings of Mr. Collins. Once the press heard the hoax, they continued to have fun with the story with sightings as far as South America.
Somewhere amongst all this confusion and tomfoolery, an enterprising bartender, annoyed with people rushing in and out all evening, must have created a drink in response to “Have you seen a chap called Tom Collins?” And so he could answer happily, “Yes, I have him right here! It’ll be five dollars please!”
Thus, the Tom Collins cocktail was born. It’s interesting to note that the earliest recipe for one in Jerry Thomas’ second edition cocktail book offers a choice of gin, whiskey or brandy, however gin soon became the spirit of choice for a well made Collins. So while ruminating on one of the largest pranks of all time, sip a SAPPHIRE® Collins and raise a glass to the elusive Tom – may he continue to trot the globe ever one step ahead of his pursuers.
I’ve found myself falling into a cocktail rut lately — and it’s not just a defensive posture from drinking so much apricot brandy. Relatively minor, as these things go, but it’s been a bit more of a challenge to come up with an idea of what I’d like to have.
book: Charles Baker’s The Gentleman’s Companion.
Baker has no shortage of recipes that have never appeared elsewhere, sometimes with good reason: while the man spun a fine yarn about most anything poured into a glass, some of the mixes are slightly off, and others just downright weird.
Here’s one of the latter, but for this one I don’t mean “weird” in an entirely disapproving light.
First, the setup: “Watch this one when out under the moon in a desert overnight camp, riding camels out across the vast dunes, or strolling in the moonlight around the Sphinx with some congenial young woman companion.”
The Sahara Glowing Heart Cocktail
from the Hands of one Abdullah an Arab Muslim Wizard back of Mahogany at the Mena House Bar, near the Pyramids of Ghizeh, which Are Just South of Cairo, Egypt
“Take of dry gin, 1 pony [1 ounce],
absinthe, 1 pony,
dry imported apricot brandy, 1 pony;
donate 1/2 pony of bright rose coloured grenadine.
Shake with lots and lots of ice and strain into a large saucer champagne glass, and pray Allah for forgiveness of all imminent and future sins of the flesh…”
Upon the first sip, I thought, “That’s one of the weirdest things I’ve ever had,” and to be honest, I’m still thinking that as I finish the drink. But, this ain’t bad — while sweet, there’s also a really engaging interplay between the apricot eau de vie and the absinthe. As Baker’s cocktails go, the Sahara Glowing Heart has the appropriate level of screwball distinctiveness to it, but it’s also not a bad basis from which to start playing with variations. Now if I can just arrange for some of that forgiveness…
The Quaffer shot glass operates on a demonically simple premise that we file in the “why-didn’t-we-think-of-that” category. You put your chaser into the lower, larger chamber where it will enter your mouth last, rinsing away the taste of the alcohol. You float your liquor, which has a lower density, on top of the chaser. Then you drink them both together.
No more shot-grimace-chaser…it all goes in at once so it takes the bite right out of the booze. They also make an extra-large Beer Quaffer designed for beer drinks, like Car Bombs and Sake Bombs.