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The Tom Collins – bitters, or no bitters?


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First off, I'm new to this forum, so hello to everyone!

The title is pretty straightforward. Does the classic Tom Collins cocktail benefit from the addition of a few dashes of bitters?

Now I'm no fool, I know that the proper recipe contains only gin, lemon juice, soda water, and bar sugar or gomme/simple syrup, served over plenty of ice with a cherry and a lemon wedge. To be fair, I have actually seen a recipe or two online that say to add a few dashes of Angostura. But it's not the norm in any sense.

 

However, Angostura Bitters flow through my veins. That funky, herbal accent is what helps define so many cocktails we all know and love- the Old Fashioned, a Lemon Lime and Bitters, and of course the Manhattan. You can also add some to drinks that don't usually have any bitters; the Mojito, Cuba Libre, and Bloody Mary all benefit from some Angostura. Angostura is the complexity that Jäger wishes it had.

 

So the big question is... Are you best off playing it old school, or spicing up the venerable Tom Collins with a few dashes of bitters?

As a side note, I know that anything can passed off as a matter of opinion; on the other hand, people that say this may also say that a Martini can be made with vodka, little to no vermouth, or shaken, rather than stirred. Philistines. 

 

So I guess what I'm asking more specifically is if a real, self-respecting mixology connoisseur can add a few dashes of Angostura (or hell, Peychauds, Orange, or some other variety of) bitters and still have a clear conscience. 

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As is my general motto regarding seemingly innocuous tweaks: Feel free to do so with yours, but ask before doing so with mine.

 

Personally, when in the mood for a spicier Collins, I'm inclined to reach for the rye.

True rye and true bourbon wake delight like any great wine...dignify man as possessing a palate that responds to them and ennoble his soul as shimmering with the response.

DeVoto, The Hour

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The Cubans make their Mojitos, which after all is just a twist on a Rum Collins, with a dash of Ango, so the idea is not entirely without precedent. 

 

I've got to try Adam's suggestion. 

DrunkLab.tumblr.com

”In Demerara some of the rum producers have a unique custom of placing chunks of raw meat in the casks to assist in aging, to absorb certain impurities, and to add a certain distinctive character.” -Peter Valaer, "Foreign and Domestic Rum," 1937

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Yep. The mojito was probably THE drink that got me into mixology, and over the years I have tried just about every variable and recipe (sort of like Lady Jo and the Mai Tai, I suppose). No bitters for me or for the Cubans!

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What's your preferred spec? Also for the Collins, because, you know, topic.

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DrunkLab.tumblr.com

”In Demerara some of the rum producers have a unique custom of placing chunks of raw meat in the casks to assist in aging, to absorb certain impurities, and to add a certain distinctive character.” -Peter Valaer, "Foreign and Domestic Rum," 1937

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50ml Gin

20ml Lemon

10ml 2:1 Sugar

2 Dashes Bishin' Bittahs (Bartender's Choice)

Quick shake (I know, but I just like cold shit)

Pour Soda into shaker - for quick chilling and mixing - especially if unrefrigerated 

Pour over ice in ice filled Catalina glass (These actually only measure 1/2 pint, and they look bishin')

Garnish with whatever.  And yeah, we Brandy our own cherries, you know. 

The Dead Parrot; Built from the ground up by bartenders, for everyone:

Monkey Shoulder Ultimate Bartender Champions, 2015

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Gin! Lemon! Sizzurp! Soda!

 

 

 

As for the rest, my preferred spec is a shitload of mint, a spoonful of sugar (not syrup) some lime, a good glug of rum, a splash of soda. It's the only recipe I freepour/eyeball

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