Friday, August 21, 2009

the original collins

2 oz Bols Genever
1 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Rich Simple Syrup (2:1)

Build on ice in a Collins glass. Top with soda water, and garnish with a lemon wedge and straw. Note: the measurements were scaled back by a third from the printed recipe to more closely represent what we were served in a 10 oz Collins glass.

Shortly after walking into Drink for the Bols Genever release party, we were presented with a Collins which was much appreciated after walking through the 90+ degree air. The drink in the Bols' recipes was listed as "The Original Collins". Wondrich in his talk describes how the Genever was served in the Collins and how Genever as a spirit fell part way in between the British gin style and whiskey in taste. The Collins began to use different liquors as British-style gin and whiskey became more abundant, and the drinks were renamed Tom and John Collins, respectively. The origins of the Tom part of the name is a bit controversial. Some theories suggest that it stemmed from the sweeter Old Tom Gin style that was frequently utilized for this drink in the later part of the 1800s. Other theories suggest that the Tom Collins drink was originally made with Genever gin which was more abundant during the mid 1800s. Jerry Thomas referred to all of them in 1876 as Tom Collins whether they be Tom Collins Gin, Tom Collins Whiskey, or Tom Collins Brandy drinks.

The Bols' literature describes Genever as "the predecessor of Gin" and I was emailed about my previous post that Genever is not gin (specifically, "a separate category from Gin"). It gets confusing since historically, bartenders such as Jerry Thomas referred to the Genever spirit as "gin" in their recipes, and nomenclature such as British and Holland Gin were used on Wednesday to describe the two products. Genever received an Appellation d'Origine Controlée (AOC) status in 2007 declaring that Genever can only be made in Holland (and a few neighboring areas). Anchor Steam makes a similar style of malt wine-juniper berry liquor, Genevieve, which might get confusing if it is neither a gin nor a Genever by some people's distinction. The term "proto-gin" was bandied about by some colleagues I asked today (see the previous post about how the British stole the concept of Genever and made their own version of the juniper-infused spirit). And one loyal CocktailVirgin reader had inquired whether we would divide all the gin-tagged posts into Gin and Genever especially since their uses are often distinct.

Indeed, one sure way to appreciate the spirits is the Collins for it can provide tasty evidence of the differences between Genever, British-style gin, and whiskey by using a similar recipe.


Silver said...

I wish those who emailed would comment on the page, as I'm as little confused about gin's evolution in regards to particular brands that are now available.

I have a bottle of "Amsterdam" gin called Damrak that I purchased about a year ago. Bols is part of the name used on the have they simply repackaged this particular brand for the U.S. market as "Bols?"

At the same time, I bought a bottle of Boomsma Fine Old Genever. This is apparently aged one year in an oak barrel.

Where do either of these fit in on the "Bols" scale that was used at this event, and then what about the difference between them and Old Tom Gin?

Just looking for a bit of guidance from the community at large. Thanks.

frederic said...

Damrak is the Dutch's version of British gin (the flavored vodka, not flavored light-whiskey, style). I am not sure if only Bols makes it under that name or if it is a common name.

We have both the Oude and Jonge Boomsma at home and rather like both. I got slightly annoyed with the Bols presentation where they described how they brought back Genever to the market since it had been missing. True, they brought back their Genever, but Genevers were still available here and on my liquor shelf.

Bols' Genever is a Jonge style. Old Tom is the British style but instead of being a dry spirit, it is slightly sweetened. Historically, some suspect that Old Tom was a hooch term and not necessarily a sweetened one.

Silver said...

Thanks for the information. Appreciate the clarification.