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Cover: Shaken and stirred

Recipes with orange slice

17May 12

Tom Collins

Tom CollinsDuring my years on the road, I have learnt a great deal about local drinks and mixes in the different regions I have visited. And although every country is proud of a particular beverage, there are drinks which are famous anywhere you go. The Tom Collins is one of them. Whether in South America or Asia, in a big city or a beach bar, this cocktail is a must on every bartender’s list.

The main ingredient to a Tom Collins is gin. It’s a tremendously refreshing drink and great to sip on hot, damp afternoons while watching the West Indies play England at cricket in Barbados. This is actually where I started drinking it.

According to history, the Tom Collins was first mixed by an American bartender named James Collins, somewhere in the state of New York in the late 1870s. As the story goes, he used Old Tom gin, a sweeter type than the London dry brand, to prepare the cocktail. He then named the drink using a mix of both his name and the gin’s.

The Tom Collins became so famous worldwide that there is even a cocktail glass named after it. It became so popular, that it has inspired a load of spin-off drinks such as:

  • John Collins (replace the gin with whiskey)
  • Joe Collins (replace the gin with scotch)
  • Ivan Collins (replace the gin with vodka)
  • Sloe gin Tom Collins

To me, it tastes like delicious lemonade, with no noticeable alcohol trace. This can be very dangerous, especially on a warm afternoon in a tropical country. In other words, be careful how many you drink if you intend to walk back to your hotel after 7 hours of cricket.

Needed:

  • 45ml Old Tom gin
  • 30ml lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon of super fine sugar
  • 60ml club soda
  • 1 Maraschino cherry
  • 1 slice of orange

How to prepare it:
1. In a shaker half-filled with ice cubes, combine the gin, lemon juice and sugar. Shake well.
2. Strain into a Collins glass almost filled with ice cubes.
3. Add the club soda.
4. Stir and garnish with the cherry and the orange slice.

Time: between 2 and 3 minutes
Makes: 1 cocktail

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10May 12

Negroni

NegroniIf I were able to choose where I came from, without thinking twice, I would pick Florence, Italy. Ever since I spent a couple of months in the city a few years ago, I fell in love with the architecture and the passionate way Italians speak and gesture with their hands in order to communicate. Also, one of my favourite drinks was invented in Florence: The Negroni.

Very typically Italian, where everything is extravagant and over-the-top, the Negroni has not one or two, but three main ingredients: Gin, Campari and Sweet Red Vermouth. Campari is the one that really struck my attention because I had not seen it in a great many drinks before the Negroni. Campari is an alcoholic apéritif obtained from the infusion of herbs and fruit in alcohol and water. It is described as a bitter.

So where does the name of the drink come from? In the 1920’s, Florentine aristocracy used to meet at the Café Casoni, in a beautiful Renaissance building downtown Florence. The trendy drink for aristocrats at the time was the American cocktail, mixed with equal parts of Campari and Sweet Red Vermouth. History has it that Count Negroni grew bored of the drink and, one evening, asked his favourite bartender, Fosco Scarelli, to add gin into his American cocktail to see what would happen. The result is that almost 100 years later, Negroni is one of Italy’s favourite drinks. When asked about the drink, a friend from Florence boasted that he had more Negroni than blood in his system.

Whatever the season, whether served as a summer negroni or winter cocktail, this beverage is usually offered as an appetizer, as Campari is meant to awaken your taste buds and get you ready for a meal. Also, you’ll want to drink it slowly because it is a rather strong mix. As a cocktail, it is an acquired taste, and once you get used to it, the Negroni grows on you, just as everything Italian has been growing on me ever since I went to Florence for the first time.

Needed:

  • 3cl Gin
  • 3cl Campari
  • 3cl Sweet Red Vermouth
  • Ice cubes
  • Orange slice

How to make a Negroni:

  1. Pour all ingredients directly into an old fashioned glass filled with ice.
  2. Stir gently.
  3. Garnish with half an orange slice and a stirrer.

Time: about 1 minute
Makes: 1 cocktail

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