Tom Collins to-go

A little while back, I was invited to a birthday brunch potluck. Such an awesome alternative to a dinner potluck, non? There were homemade waffles with all the fixins, fresh fruit by the spoonful, baguettes with savory spreads, one ginormous coffee cake, and tons of little treats.

I volunteered to bring booze, in addition to bloody marys courtesy of one of the hosts. Mimosas are the tried-and-true go-to. But I felt like they’d be too predictable.

So instead, I brought along my friend Tom.

Those who know me or follow the Central Park Cocktail Club know that, in my heart of hearts, Tom Collins is my very favorite cocktail. Yes, it’s technically a summery afternoon long-drink. But in my mind, it is perfect for nearly every occasion. Including brunch.

It batches well, too. Especially when you have Appel’s Citrus Cordial in the fridge. The recipe was derived by Todd Appel, who happens to be one of my favorite Chicago drink people. And while the ingredients are simple — lemon, sugar, water — the technique and attention to detail is what makes it awesome…especially when I don’t feel like squeezing a million lemons before heading out to a party.

Tom Collins to-go
2 parts dry gin (I used Farmer’s Botanical Organic because I thought the hostess would appreciate it)
1 part Appel’s Lemon Cordial*
1 part fresh lime juice

1. Pour all ingredients into a seal-able vessel.
2. Seal it up and shake hard, with the aim to blend juice.
3. Don’t forget to bring a bottle of soda water for topping off your Toms over ice.

* Appel’s Lemon Cordial
1 part fresh strained lemon juice
1 part white cane sugar
zest from lemons

1. In a saucepan over medium heat, bring juice and sugar just to a boil slowly. As soon as it is about to boil, remove from heat.
2. Allow¬† syrup to come to room temperature before adding the zest. (Todd says, “This brings a blend of preserved and fresh that really worked.”) Heating the syrup creates some evaporation of water — ideal for a concentrated lime syrup.
3. Allow syrup to steep for 15 minutes, then strain.
4. Allow strained syrup to cool before storing in refrigerator in an air-tight container. Todd says, “It lasts for months and months.”