Thursday, July 9, 2009

Tom Collins

In 1874, The Great Tom Collins Hoax spread through New York, Pennsylvania, and various other areas in the eastern United States. Basically, a guy would walk up to a mark and ask if he'd seen Tom Collins. The mark, of course, would say no, after which the jokester would tell him that Collins was saying all sorts of nasty things about him. Eventually, the mark would lose his temper. Newspapers got into the fun, reporting appearances of the elusive Collins in various cities.

The Gettysburg Compiler wrote this transcript of the basic Tom Collins patter:

"Have you seen Tom Collins?"

"If you haven't, perhaps you had better do so, and as quick as you can, for he is talking about you in a very rough manner--calling you hard names and altogether saying things about you that are rather calculated to induce people to believe there is nothing you wouldn't steal short of a red hot stove. Other little things of that nature he is openly speaking in public places, and as a friend [...] we think you ought to take some notice of them and of Mr. Collins."

There are a few lessons here:
1. The world used to be a much smaller place.
2. Practical jokes are a lot different in places that don't have firearms.
3. Old-time jokes didn't always have punchlines.
4. Once upon a time, people did, indeed, talk like those "high pants talking fast" guys on The Family Guy. Horseradish!

At any rate, the development of the Tom Collins in 1876 was undoubtedly related to the Tom Collins hoax. Created by Jerry Thomas, "the father of American mixology," the original recipe was as follows:

Tom Collins

(use small bar glass)
Take 5 or 6 dashes of gum syrup
Juice of a small lemon
One large wine-glass of Gin
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.

Again, a few lessons, largely about the amount of alcohol that people used to consume in the 1870's. Jesus.

At any rate, my (much smaller) Tom Collins was very refreshing and very tart. I'm used to a little more sweetness, and might add a mite more sugar in the future, but it made a nice, lemony summer drink. This has nudged the Gin Rickey aside as my favorite drink thus far.

Tom Collins
(from The Ultimate A-to-Z Bar Guide

2 ounces gin
1 ounce fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon powdered sugar
cold club soda
lemon slice
maraschino cherry

Combine first three ingredients in chilled Tom Collins glass; stir well. Add 3 to 4 ice cubes and top with club soda, stirring gently. Garnish with lemon slice and maraschino cherry.

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