Thursday, June 27, 2013

Back Again!!

Its been a while since my last post but that doesn't mean I've not been blogging -- check out my Grey Nomad blog and the newer blog, Nomad Eats.  I still have the plan to complete the site and flesh things out but life has got in the way and being rather lengthy in my blogs, well this one just hasn't happened.  My apologies.

Anyway this week I was in Toronto with my wife, Viv, and being a fan of the old Four Seasons lobby bar decided to check out the new place which is just down Yorkville Avenue.  I must say I liked the old place and its ambience. Celebs used to hang there -- apparently Russell Crowe was there once when I was having a drink, but he didn't come over.  The new hotel and the lobby bar -- the D Bar -- is very, very new indeed and consequently at the moment a little soulless.  I'm sure that will pass in time as the organisation run a great business very well.

So how were the cocktails?

The menu was new and sounded interesting and of all things had a new type of Negroni on it -- they called it a 'New' Negroni but this time with Green Chartreuse added, which is an old, old, old type of drink.  I used to drink it as an after dinner drink with ice, which was lovely.  I haven't seen a bottle anywhere for years.

And it was nice too!  Cute glass with a big round ice cube in it.  So good in fact that we had to have another before heading out to dinner.

I'll check it out again.

D Bar
Four Seasons Hotel
60 Yorkville Avenue
Toronto, ON M4W 0A4

(416) 964-0411

Saturday, March 13, 2010

What is this all about?

The notion for creating a website to do with the glories of the Tom Collins came about back in May 2002 (it may have been 2003, I cannot really remember) and was the result as usual of a discussion between David, Nick, Arrigo and myself (Mark).  Wouldn't it be fun (we thought) to provide a forum for people of a certain background, predisposition, whatever you like to call it to discuss and enjoy the finer things in life.  For want of a better metaphor, we chose the Tom Collins.

This drink is an older type of cocktail dating back at least until the 1920's if you believe Wikipedia.  It is a simple drink, definitely not a "wet sex on the beach" type of drink.  It has a certain cachet attaching to it.  The great black and white movies about Nick Charles referred to the Tom Collins as a lighter and more palatable alternative to a gin martini so it is not without renown.  Being of a certain age myself I had drunk a Tom Collins some 30+ years ago and found it light and refreshing.  My parents being even more venerable considered anything gin based to be a daytime drink but when the sun went down, would switch to coloured drink alternatives such as whisky.  They drank Tom Collins as well although being British preferred their gin with tonic and a slice of lemon -- and there is nothing wrong with that either.

However what turned an idle thought -- described below -- into more of a reality was the discovery in Bermuda (which is where we all live) of a barman who was less than 30 years old whose favourite drink was gin and made a mean Tom Collins.  His name was Luis and he worked in a bar called Opus ( near where we all worked.  Luis was very patient and took great pains to experiment with what he thought was the finest Tom Collins of all time.  We four being but humble participants in this great quest were more than happy to help out on the R&D side of things.  The jury remains out on the best Tom Collins that Luis ever produced but that could be more to do with memory lapses during and after testing necessitating reperformance tests.

Anyway I found that the website was available, so I bought it and asked a friend of mine to create a website for us.  It has taken longer than I expected to create the site so I thought it a good idea to post the content that I already have created on this blog in subsequent posts to get the ball rolling and create something of a buzz about the notion.

What follows is the introduction to the whole notion, edited suitably of course.  It all appears whimsical but the underlying reality is that there are a lot of people who enjoy the finer things in life and really do want to know where to find a great Tom Collins.

Used in this manner, the Tom Collins is a metaphor for the search for the finer things in life.  Where do you find a good Tom Collins?  You will not find one in a flashy cocktail bar where Cosmopolitans and Lemon Drop Martinis hold sway.  You will find one in a very nice restaurant or hotel where the barman takes pride in his or her work and knows not just the new fads but has a keen interest in the classics.  The Tom Collins is a classic.  In my experience few barmen can make a great one.  More can make good ones.  Young barmen on the whole are incapable of making one at all.  This said it is fun finding out and if this blog entertains and makes readers thirsty for more, that is just great.  What I would really like of course if for readers to post their own experiences of experiencing a great Tom Collins so that readers of this blog, who are global in nature, may know that whenever they are in Miami (say) or somewhere else they can pop into the Fairmont Turnberry Isle Resort and have a cracking Tom Collins (I speak from experience here).

Anyway this is how it all started.  Following blogs will deal with specific Tom Collins tasting events in specific places, towns, countries, resorts.  Cheers!

How it all began

It was a warm day in Rome in May 2002 and the four of us had made it across the Borgheze Gardens in search of the Lord Byron Hotel – David had told us that they had a great terrace bar which would be a fine ending to a brisk walk.  Times had changed though as the front desk directed us downstairs to a revamped bar set up for a private function.  Sweet talking from the multi-lingual Arrigo got us in for a “quickie”, Nick and Mark found the perfect setting and the barman arrived just after the other two with four small glasses and an interesting looking glass jug containing something yellowish.

“What’s this?”

“I thought a Tom Collins would be nice on a hot day like today”, said David.

“It’s been years since I’ve had a Tom Collins.”

The barman poured and the four glasses chinked.

The drink was cool, the lemons were fresh and the combination of location, company and barman was perfect.  We were hooked!

Four jugs later and the private function was over and we were still there.  The 2nd, 3rd and 4th jugs were as good as the first and the name had been chosen for our venture – Seeking Tom Collins.