If there’s one thing that the bar industry excels at, it’s adopting new technologies. Take John Collins, a waiter at the Limmer Hotel in London back in the 19th century. The first portable method for artificially carbonating water had just started making its way around London in 1813, and not a year later Collins’ now-famous bowl of punch consisting of gin, lemon, sugar, and soda water was the most popular drink in the city.
The single-serving Collins, as we know it now, is a truly brilliant evolutionary step in the lineage of cocktails. Essentially a sour lengthened with soda water, it takes advantage of newly available technology and uses it to build upon an existing cocktail and create a new family of drink. And the beauty of the Collins formula is that is isn’t relegated to only sparkling water, as anything carbonated will do. A French 75 is, at its heart, a Collins. Hell, a Long Island Iced Tea is kind of a Collins if you really think about it.
And when you do think about it, as I often do, you begin to realize the versatility of the Collins formula. You can make it with gin, as is the traditional recipe. We drank a lot of Vodka Collinses in college, which were nothing more than vodka and Squirt, but still. A Tequila Collins is a refreshing summer drink. Make it with lime juice and a splash of crème de cassis, and swap the soda out for ginger beer and you’ve got an El Diablo on your hands.
But there’s another spirit that can be a lot of fun to play with, and that’s amaro. The dark, bittersweet liquors from Italy are most often taken straight, after a meal, but in recent years forward-thinking bartenders have expanded their horizons to create brilliant concoctions with the bitter black liqueur. Inspired by such modern classics as the Fernet Flip, Jägerita, and the Trinidad Sour, I applied the artichoke based, earthy Cynar to the Collins formula. The result is a refreshing, bitter, sour drink that sips well into the early fall.
• 2 oz. Cynar
• ¾ oz. lemon juice
• ½ oz. 2:1 simple syrup
• 2 oz. soda water
Shake Cynar, lemon, and simple syrup together with ice cubes until cold. Add soda water to shaker and strain over fresh ice in a tall glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
ANOTHER DRINK FROM JEFFREY MORGENTHALER
Jeffrey Morgenthaler is the bar manager at Pépé le Moko and Clyde Common, the acclaimed gastropub at the Ace Hotel in Portland, Oregon. He is also author of The Bar Book: Elements of Cocktail Technique.