It’s March 27, so here at The Drunkard’s Almanac we’re mixing a Tom Collins for Charles Tanqueray’s birthday. Or at least we think it’s his birthday, based on some sketchy sources whose identity we can’t remember. Let’s face it, record keeping in 1810, if it existed at all, wasn’t exactly backed up on some server in a hardened bunker. But when we learned the source seemed good enough for our purposes so it was put on the calendar. So today it’s the Tom Collins for Charles Tanqueray’s birthday.
Charles Tanqueray came from a family in which his father, grandfather and great uncle were all clergymen. But our friend was not cut from the same cloth, so to speak. So in 1830 he and his brother Edward decided to learn how to become gin distillers. Pretty high calling, if you ask your faithful correspondent. The brothers took over the Vine Street Distillery in 1835, but Edward passed away only a couple of years later and it was Charles’ role to run the business. And he sure ran it, venturing across the globe to find spices and flavoring agents for a variety of gins.
Now about that gin. Charles was among the first people to create the London Dry style, concurrent with the invention of continuous distillation. But the predominant style of gin in the 19th century was Old Tom gin. Less juniper, more citrus, and sometimes with sugar added to hide the imperfections of poor technique meets pot still. Now while resurrections of Old Tom gins are once again available from a few vendors, we’re going to go today to an 1837 recipe Charles himself concocted, recently resurrected by the Tanqueray distillery: Tanqueray Malacca. This is apparently what Old Tom gin aspired to be.
Now fear not, dear reader. If you don’t have this specific spirit on hand at the moment you will do just fine with any of the current Japanese gins such as Nikka or Suntory Roku. Even if you have made the grave error of keeping only London Dry around the house you won’t be shipped off to the Hall of Shame, but we do expect you take a moment to reflect upon and quickly mend your ways.
So now to our drink. Today the Drink of the Day is going to be the Tom Collins. Developed in the 19th century, wonderfully suited to a citrusy gin, and an honorable cocktail in its own right. After all, the glass is named after it. We also look at it as the progenitor for drinks like the Singapore Sling.
- Collins Glass
- Add gin, lemon juice and simple syrup to shaker with ice.
- Shake until frosty cold.
- Strain into Collins glass over fresh ice.
- Garnish with lemon and cherry.