Articles Tagged: Sour Mix


The Bees Knees

The Tom Collins is a classic standby for me when in someone’s house. Its easy to make, nearly any kitchen at any house has all of the ingredients. Its a drink I also avoid when out, because there still exists the kind of bar out there that will drown your sorrows with the dreaded yellow kool-aid better known as “sour mix.” Ugh!

So the other day reading up on my cocktails, I stumbled across the Underhill Lounge’s historical investigation of the cocktail known as “The Bees Knees.” The drink is a simple enough cocktail: replace the simple syrup in a Tom Collins with honey, shake and serve.

The honey can be rather cloying and sweet, but it lends a certain gravity to the drink. Whereas the Collins is essentially sippable, the Bees Knees tastes thicker and feels more satisfying. Its the gin drinker’s answer to “sooth your sore throat with a tea and honey.” (unless you fancy a hot gin Toddy, which in that case I’m curious to hear how well that works for you)

Another take on the Bees Knees is held by Jeffrey Morganthaler. He advocates making a simple syrup out of the honey (more Tom Collins like), but he also says that white rum makes an acceptable substitute.

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The Tom Collins

When I was young (oh so young, and foolish may I add) I thought a Tom Collins = Gin + Sour Mix. Now, for the sake of not calling any one bartender out or any one specific bar tending school whose manual spelled out a Tom Collins as such I will let them go nameless in the hope that its not too late to right their wrongs and make an honest Tom Collins.

Firstly, the drink hails from the late 19th century, first appearing in an 1876 publication by the name of The Bartender’s Guide which spelled out the recipe as followed: Juice of One Lemon 5 to 6 dashes of Gum Syrup 1 “wine glass” of gin Soda “until lively.”

Despite nearly a century’s worth of time passing, the drink has managed to the modern day roughly unchanged, though variations do exist. For the average kitchen, superfine sugar makes an acceptable substitute. Though most recipes specify sugar/simple syrup. Though as you’ll notice, many of these recipes call for some additional fruit. Maraschino cherries are the most commonly cited for garnish, and followed in a near second by orange slice.

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