Sunday, July 4, 2010

What We're Drinking: Summertime means Bucks, Rickeys, Fizzes, and Collins

Gin Rickey
When it comes to summer cocktails I have been following the gospel of drinks writer David A. Embury. Mr. Embury, an attorney by trade, wrote a cocktail book called The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks in 1948 that in my view is required reading for anyone desiring a serious understanding of how to mix cocktails.

Cocktails are seasonal like food. In the summer, your drinks should be light and thirst quenching. For starters, there should be less alcohol in the drinks and more refreshing modifiers such as citrus juice, effervescent sodas, and fresh fruits. So there is no need to order heavier Manhattans, Side Cars, and their cool weather ilk. Embury understands this and devotes an entire chapter of his book to the quintessential summer cocktails genres: Bucks, Rickeys, Fizzes, and Collins

Bucks are a cousin of the highball cocktail and are generally constructed with a base spirit (such as Whiskey, Gin, Rum), a splash of lemon juice, and ginger ale over ice. The Gin Buck was the original version from Prohibition days when masking bathtub gin developed into an art form which generated hundreds of cocktails. We like Rye whiskey and adding a splash of lemon to the highball recipe makes a wonderful buck indeed.

Whiskey Buck
3 oz Old Overholt Rye Whiskey
Juice from 1/4 Lemon slice
4 oz Pale Ginger Ale

Squeeze a quarter lemon into a Highball glass and add then Whiskey. Add large ice cubes and then top off with pale ginger ale. Stir and serve.

Embury Suggests: "An interesting variation of the Rum Bucks may be had by adding a few dashes of Cointreau or orgeat when using Cuban rum and a few dashes of falernum when using Jamaican rum."

Another variation of the Buck is the Presbyterian which is enjoying a resurgence in popularity no thanks to the efforts of Sasha Petraske of Milk & Honey. This version has has both ginger ale and club soda.

The Presbyterian
2 oz Rye Whiskey
3 oz Ginger Ale
3 oz Club Soda
Juice of a quarter lime wedge
Candied Ginger

Add Rye to Highball glass, squeeze in a lime wedge, then add equal parts ginger ale and club soda. Garnish with candied ginger.

Where to get it: Weather Up (589 Vanderbilt Ave, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn)

Rickeys are very simple yet classic summer cocktails that used to be popular with the sporting set. Essentially, they are the base spirit (we suggest gin or rum), the juice of one lime, and a teaspoon of sugar or other sweetener. A key difference from a regular fizz or collins is that the Rickey should be served in a shorter 8 oz glass. It is a short drink meant to be imbibed quickly for faster refreshment.

Gin Rickey
2 oz Dry Gin
Teaspoon of simple syrup
Juice of one lime
4 oz club soda

Combine Gin, Simple, and lime juice in an frosted 8 oz glass, add large ice cubes, then top off with club soda.  Garnish with lime wedge.

Another one of our favorite Rickey is a Rum version I developed called the:

Velvet Rum Rickey
2 oz Flor de Cana 4 year Extra Dry white rum
1/4 oz John C. Taylor Velvet Falernum
Juice of one lime
4 oz of club soda
Orange peel

Combine Rum, Falernum, and lime juice in an frosted 8 oz glass, add large ice cubes, then top off with club soda.  Garnish with orange peel. This would work very well with Jamaican rum too.

Where to get a great Gin Rickey: The Jakewalk (282 Smith Street, Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn)

Embury suggests: serving the Rickey "with stirring rod or small bar spoon."He also advises that using the basic formula above, one can make the following: Applejack Rickey, Sloe Gin Rickey, Bourbon Rickey, Southern Comfort Rickey, etc.

Fizzes are made the same way as the Collins, indeed Embury goes on at some length about their similarity. The key difference is that the Collins is constructed in the tall "Collins" glass while a fizz is born in cocktail shaker and "thoroughly frappeed with fine ice" and then strained into a short glass (6-8oz). Then club soda or charged water is added, which provides the cocktail with effervescence.  Fizzes can be served over ice or stand alone. The summer fizz does not need egg white, I consider the Ramos Gin Fizz and it's derivatives heavier cocktails more suitable for cooler climate. Our favorites for the summer are below:

Sloe Gin Fizz
1 oz Plymouth Gin
1 oz Plymouth Sloe Gin
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Simple Syrup
Club Soda

Combine Gin, Sloe Gin, Lemon, and simple in a shaker, add ice and shake rigorously until chilled. Strain into a short glass and top off with club soda. Garnish with lemon peel.

A favorite variation of the fizz was country club favorite in the 1950s called the Southside. The drink originated at the 21 Club in New York during Prohibition where it was the house cocktail for many years. It is built like a mojito but with Gin instead of rum. The principal difference is the Southside should be shaken over ice to blend the lime juice, simple, and Gin and break the mint into small particles.

2 oz London Dry Gin
1 oz Lime juice
3/4 oz Simple syrup
6-8 Mint leaves
Club Soda

Gently muddle mint in bottom of bar glass, add simple syrup, lime juice, and gin. Add ice and shake until chilled. Then strain into a iced goblet filled with crushed ice. Top off with club soda and garnish with a mint sprig.

Where to get an excellent Southside: Clover Club (210 Smith Street, Cobble Hill, Brooklyn)

Collins is a type of "sour" with soda or charged water served in a tall Collins glass instead of a rocks or highball glass. Embury insists the original Tom Collins is a (1) made with Old Tom Gin  - a sweetened gin and (2) it is stirred otherwise it would certainly be another type of Fizz. These days many bartenders shake the ingredients, then strain into a Collins glass, and then add soda. This tall drink is meant to be drank over a long time so the charged water needs to filter through the whole drink not merely provide fizz.

Original Tom Collins 
3-4 oz of Old Tom Gin
3/4 oz Lemon juice
1 oz simple syrup
Club soda

Combine gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup with ice in a Collins glass. Stir well and add 4-6 ice cubes. Top off the club soda. Garnish with orange slice and Luxardo maraschino cherry.

Another version of the Collins family which we  enjoy was passed onto me by barkeeper Henry Lopez of Court & Spark in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn.

Cherry Collins
2 oz of Old Tom Gin
3/4 oz Lemon juice
1 oz Cherry Heering liqueur
Club soda

Combine gin, lemon juice, and cherry Herring in Collins glass. Add ice and then stir in the club soda.  Garnish with Luxardo maraschino cherry and lemon peel.

Enjoy these Summer Cocktails. They are easy to make and will enhance any summer BBQ or outdoor party. Tom Collins base mixture can be batched ahead of time and then added over ice then topped with chilled cold club soda. Gin Rickeys take no more time to make than a Gin & Tonic.

Oh, and let me know your summer cocktail favorites. I am always open to new refreshing recipes!

- Fredo


  1. Great blog! Love your stuff. Personally I like a rum old fashioned in the summer.

  2. You've left outthe traditional Britsh summer cocktail, the Pimm's Cup:

    * 2 ounces Pimm’s No. 1
    * 7UP, lemon-lime soda, or ginger ale
    * Slice of lemon
    * Slice of cucumber

    1. Pour the Pimm’s and fizzy lemon-flavored soda (called "lemonade" in the UK) into a chilled highball glass or metal cup over ice. Squeeze a slice of lemon well as you drop it in the glass; then stir gently and garnish with a cucumber slice. Adding a sprig of mint makes it even more refreshing.

  3. Blogger Loungerati said...
    @Louise - thanks for your comment. We have been a fan of the Pimm's Cup for over ten years. There are various recipes, I usually employ pale ginger ale in lieu of 7UP. It is a Summer standard, however I wanted to bring older American tradition summer cocktails to the forefront. Pimm's Cups are certainly relevant and a summer favorite whether it be in punch or single serving!!!