The lemony Tom Collins cocktail was most likely created by a PR-savvy 19th-century bartender in response to a running joke that circulated around New York City in the 1870s. The prank involved one so-called friend telling another that a man named Tom Collins was talking smack about him in a bar, sending the slandered man on a bar-by-bar search for the nonexistent slur-slinging cur.
Created by talented Tratto barman Blaise Faber, the Tomato Collins has no such shaggy dog story attached to it, but it’s fabulous – a bit more lean, savory and elegant than its progenitor. The drink is based on Moletto Premium Italian Tomato Gin, which smells and tastes like a ripe tomato patch, with a bright juniper undercurrent that Faber teases out with a tomato-basil shrub. It’s the perfect drink for June – smooth and refreshing with just a hint of summer garden.
To make it at home, combine 1½ oz. Moletto tomato gin, ¼ oz. Giffard Pamplemousse (grapefruit liqueur), ¼ oz. fresh lime juice, ¼ oz. fresh lemon juice, ½ oz. tomato-basil shrub* and 1 dash Peychaud’s bitters in a cocktail shaker and shake. Strain over ice into a Collins glass and garnish with cracked pepper, lime and a cherry tomato.
*Fill a 32 oz. mason jar ²⁄³ full with ripe tomatoes, 10 large basil leaves and ¹⁄8 tsp. cracked black pepper. Top with good quality Champagne vinegar. Macerate for two weeks. Filter off the liquid, smashing the solids through a sieve to extract as much liquid as possible. Measure the volume of the liquid and add an equal amount of white sugar. Mix until dissolved.