Everyone loves the classic Tom Collins. And if they don’t, then well, friendships are made to be broken.
In all seriousness, I would argue the original Tom Collins is so popular because of how accessible it is: gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, and club soda. These simple ingredients make for a well-rounded and refreshing cocktail that’s appropriate all year-round.
But, by just changing one ingredient, you open up an endless array of different flavours that can take the original to a whole new level.
The first of my experiments? Lavender. Lavender has a wonderful light and floral aroma that’s typically found in teas. But we’re making cocktails here, so let’s get down to business.
1 ½ oz gin
1 oz lavender syrup (see recipe below)
¼ oz rosewater
¾ oz lemon juice
Sprig of mint
In a cocktail shaker with ice, add all the ingredients except the club soda and shake lightly. Strain into a Collins glass with ice and top with club soda. Garnish with mint.
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
¾ cup lavender seeds
Add all ingredients to a saucepan over medium heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar and remove at the first sign of a boil. Set aside to cool and refrigerate.
Simply put, it’s light and seasonally appropriate. You get the refreshing taste of a typical Tom Collins, with the aroma and floral notes of the lavender and rosewater. The rosewater adds that second floral element that makes you feel like you’re drinking a bouquet of flowers, but be sure to be restrained with how much you use – it can easily overpower the drink. Optionally, I find substituting the rosewater with elderflower liqueur also works nicely if you find the former to be too overpowering.
If you really want to be super flowery, you could even add two dashes of lavender bitters in the mix.
I love the Tom Collins because it’s easy to tinker with and get wildly different results, while still retaining the essence of the original. Try a few of your own experiments and see what tickles your fancy. You may recover some friendships in the process, at least.