With the temperatures in Mumbai averaging at close to 36 degrees celsius, and peaking at 41, March has certainly signaled a long searing summer in 2018. I can’t speak for you, but I’ve seen myself sipping Fresh Lime Sodas more frequently than ever, in the last 60 days.
Though refreshing, the drink does nothing more than that, sadly. It doesn’t relax me; it doesn’t make me want to patiently sip it without giving two shits about my existential woes; it doesn’t, more importantly, reflect the fact that Mumbai is a beach city, and given how busy people here are, we ache to find the first avenue to unwind – beach ho na ho, beach waali feel aani chahiye!
I realise that my childhood favourite hasn’t really grown up to my taste. It’s time to look elsewhere, but not too far away – to a drink that satiates the spirit of a Mumbaikar, with a capital S.
I’m talking about, of course the Tom Collins. Now, before you get intimidated or, worse, get put off by a very foreign sounding drink, let me help you make feel right at home with the Tom Collins, figuratively, and consequently, literally. Let’s start with introductions first, shall we?
The Tom Collins is a glorified Limbu Soda with Gin, without sounding too reductive. For a drink this simple, it’s not hard to believe that it has a history of nearly 150 years. Though born in the USA, it’s not hard to imagine it’s birth in the British Raj in a parallel universe, as it is the perfect middle to a Shikanji and a Gin & Tonic.
Why I feel, though, that the Tom Collins is perfect for my city, more so than beer (and definitely more suitable than a Rum & Coke), is because of the following few factors:
- The Flavour Profile
It’s sweet, tangy, zingy, bitter, spicy and quite herbal, basically everything that makes a great drink perfect for the summers. The aromatic nature of the drink carries usual suspects like long peppery-citrus notes on the palate, with a bouquet of soft herbs like coriander seeds, star anise, orange and lemon peel, and green pepper. Without the sugar, the drink gets a clean finish, so use the sugar so as to enhance the length of the flavours.
- The Price Point
Given that 75% of the raw materials needed are virtually pantry ingredients, the Tom Collins is one of the cheapest cocktails to consider. Among the spirits too, gin is one of the most affordable offerings at any liquor store, so going high end would be more rewarding than it seems.
- It’s Easy As 1-2-3-4
The recipe follows a 1-2-3-4 format – 1 Part Sugar, 2 Parts Lemon Juice, 3 Parts Gin and 4 Parts Soda-water – a format so simple to follow, one would find it criminal to pay the service charge to a bartender. The cocktail is best done DIY.
The summer might go on for longer than we can imagine. For many, Mumbai bears summer for 9 out of 12 months. So, we can complain about how the weather here sucks, bitch and moan about global warming, or plan vacations to various hill stations, but I suggest we wisen up.
I suggest we wisen up to a better drink, certainly better than a Fresh Lime Soda, that encapsulates the feeling of a busy city that knows how to take itself lightly, all in its eponymous tall glass, the Tom Collins.