Ice. Simple syrup. Club Soda. A wedge of lemon and as much Tanqueray as you can tolerate. You’re probably asking yourself, “John, is that your own shitty version of a gin and tonic?” Quite the opposite, actually. It’s an upgrade that’s going to change the way you summer. Let me start out by telling you that this isn’t a hole in the wall bar drink. You’re going to get a lot of scoffing and side eyes thrown your way if you walk into your local biker bar or VFW and ask for this drink. It is a drink you sit on your back porch with. A beverage you order on a 55-degree night in mid-July at an outdoor tiki bar. It’s the sort of cocktail you make for your friends that will have them leaving your place asking what that drink was all about. It isn’t a gin and a tonic. It isn’t a vodka soda.
This, my friends, is a Tom Collins. I got into the gin game right around my twenty-second birthday when I thought the classiest thing I could do (aside from giving my seat up for a girl at the bar) was ordering a gin and tonic.
I was at dinner with my Grandma and Grandpa a few weeks back at a rather upscale restaurant when I asked the waiter for a gin and tonic to start. My Grandpa, in all of his wisdom, looked at the waiter and said “Scratch that. We’ll have three Tom Collins’ please.” And that was that. I’m done with G&T’s. In my eyes, it’s now a drink for serfs. The commoner. A person that doesn’t value flavor. But I’ll be honest with you. This breakup has been a long time coming. I was lucky to be shown the light that is the Tommy C.
Everyone goes through the “I’m not sure what I like” drink phase during their bar-hopping infancy. I used to think that the bartender actually cared what I ordered. Like they kept mental tabs on everyone and they silently judged patrons in the break room if they went up and ordered a vodka cranberry. So, as a strapping 21-year-old, I would go up there and get a whiskey straight even though in my formative years I could hardly get a sip of straight whiskey down my throat without gagging. I then became the 22-year-old douchebag who thought that I could score points with girls if I was seen drinking bourbon. I used to hate bourbon but I drank it because I thought it was cool. Now? Well, now I’m 24 and still very much a douchebag. And I drink bourbon in my apartment alone because I like the taste and I can fall asleep faster if I have one or two right before bed.
At 21, you’re still drinking fifteen dollar handles and putting away Busch Light at an alarming rate. I used to consider rolling up to a house party with a case of Bud Light to be “putting on airs.” And it was. Why spend an extra five dollars on a 24 of Bud Light when you can get a 30 rack of Busch Light for cheaper?
At 22, you’ve probably moved on to Svedka, Canadian Mist, Cuervo, etc. Middle of the road stuff. And when you go to the bar? I don’t know what it is, but 22 is that age where everyone’s going up to the barkeep and trying to impress anyone within earshot of their order. Like, yeah, you CAN order a white Russian at the bar, but no one with a good head on their shoulders is doing that. Just get a Bud Light or a vodka soda like every other dickhead in here and get out of the way so someone else can order. And then you leave college and you realize that you’re allowed to order whatever the fuck you want and no one is going to tell you differently.
The issue, as it stands right now, is that it’s getting warm outside. Red wine and brown liquor are about to be totally off the table until August. I need a drink that I won’t get sick of after I have two or three. Something light that lets people know I party, but also tells them I’m an aspiring member of The Finer Things Club (it’s an Office reference, please try and keep up).
Look, I used to love crushing gin and tonics. But I used to love my ex-girlfriend, Power Rangers, and taking the bus home from school too. And if you like G&T’s that’s fine. Stick with what you know. But my tastebuds have evolved and I’m trying to start a gin revolution here. There’s no room for people who aren’t willing to branch out. I’m talking about a mass exodus away from tonic water. I cannot stand the taste of it. That bitter tang coupled with the massive number of calories just isn’t for me and my refined palate. I don’t really give a shit about the calories, but that’s just another reason why tonic water blows. It’s almost beach season for all you calorie counters out there. If you’re going to be drinking your calories, why not make it a cocktail that actually tastes good? It’s not that I hate tonic, it’s just that I’ve outgrown it. Seltzer water, club soda, sparkling water—they’re all better and less filling than our acrimonious friend tonic. So I’m not going to sit here and tell you that a Tom Collins is a better drink. I’m just advocating for a test drive. Just the tip to see how it feels, ya know? Try it, you might like it. Just don’t forget to thank me when you’re sipping on a Tommy C. poolside this summer in lieu of a G&T. Maybe if this whole writing thing takes off I can get whoever is in charge of coining drinks to rename it the Johnny D. .
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