The Tom Collins cocktail has without a doubt been canonized as a classic. The recipe for this gin-based cocktail was solidified with ink in 1876 by the famous bartender Jerry Thomas, however, the origins of the cocktail date further back.
Throughout the 1860’s a cocktail called John Collins came to be known. Accounts mention that it was named after the head waiter at Limmer’s Old House in London and consisted of powdered sugar, lemon juice, Old Tom Gin, and soda. Other cocktail historians have noted that the ingredients for the John Collins and Tom Collins are similar to those used in Gin punches served at fashionable London clubs in the 1850’s. Despite its lack of definitive name, the basic concept of the Tom Collins cocktail gained in popularity throughout the mid to late 19th century.
In 1874 a hoax began to spread throughout the eastern United States. People would start a conversation by asking, “Have you seen Tom Collins?”, and then further insinuate that a man by the name of Tom Collins had been speaking ill of the listener. Learning of this, the listener would then be encouraged to take action and to find this man named Tom Collins and confront him. It was often said that Tom Collins was “just around the corner...in a local bar." On the coat-tails of this popular hoax Jerry Thomas’ edited version of the John Collins appeared as the Tom Collins, a blend of sugar, lemon juice, gin, and soda. Replacing the Old Tom Gin, a slightly sweeter, maltier gin, with a dryer London style gin changed the John to Tom, and the Tom Collins cocktail was born. The cocktail is now easy to find “just around the corner...in a local bar.”
Our variation on this classic cocktail came out of our desire to use an in-season, local ingredient. We learned from Kumu Farms that they were harvesting a large amount of beautiful green beans. Our bartenders were inspired to break down the green beans and pair their acidic and vegetal qualities with the flavorful, amber honey we source from Maui Honey in Haiku. The resulting green bean and honey syrup came to replace the sugar component in the Collins recipe.
For the main ingredient, Gin, we selected Hendrick’s Gin. The collaboration to make Hendrick’s Gin began in 1988, and in 1999 Charles Gordon and Leslie Gracie released their harmonious juniper based gin, heavily dosed with orange peel and infused with cucumber and Bulgarian Rose. The complexity of this gin stands up to the complex flavors in the green bean-honey syrup.
To further add complexity and a slight bitterness to our Collins variation we incorporate Cocchi Americano, an Italian aperitif which debuted in 1891. The base of this aperitif is Moscato d’ Asti wine, fortified and flavored with cinchona bark, the original source of quinine, as well as citrus peel, spices, and botanicals. Cocchi Americano is part of a family of liquors which were originally developed to combat malaria by incorporating the cinchona bark element.
Below you will find the recipe for our Tom Collins variation, the Jack Collins, named after the fabled boy Jack Spriggins who climbed the magic bean stalk. Like the fairy tale this cocktail begins with a bitter, complex edge. Unlike the fairy tale this cocktail will not end with a Giant chasing you, but rather a crisp, refreshing sensation. Cheers!