Bomb Collins

Published On September 7, 2012 | By Mike Lewicki | Cocktails, Gin

First off, a little introduction in case you don’t know me: My name is Michael, but any variation of it will do. I live just outside of Toronto with my wife, forever known as “W” in the blogosphere (though she’s also occasionally referred to as “The Mrs.”). We are photographers but I like to think we’re so much more than that. Never defined solely by our occupation.  Our weekends are spent photographing weddings or other special engagements, but when we’re not busy we like to host dinner parties where drinks being served are just as important to the night as the food. A good drink sets everyone at ease. But there was a time before my wife and I got together.

I was fresh out of University and out of ideas. Like a good number of people in my situation, I was at a loss for what to do with myself. Nothing called to me.  I felt stuck. One morning I found myself outside a local restaurant and bar, application in hand, my nerves my only friend. I knocked on the door and sheepishly handed my paper to the girl who answered. She said something, most of which I can’t remember, and shut the door. Tight. That was it. My first impression.

Later that day, I was called in for an interview and I was shocked. I wasn’t ready. Truth is I didn’t have any tangible experience, just summer work but nothing related. I sat across from the bar manager that evening and nodded way too much. I probably said a few things, but those words escape me.  A young man hoping for a chance.  We talked for a good ten minutes and I shook his hand and left. As I was driving home, it hit me. I start tomorrow. And I’m not prepared.

That first day I picked up my position behind the bar, or what is forever affectionately known as “the wood,” and got to work. I wore my pressed blacks and apron and brought my handed-down tools of the trade. I poured beers and opened bottles and ran to my trusty bartender guide whenever someone ordered something that I had never heard of. Most of the drinks back then had me running to that guide. The pages grew worn and marked  from overuse but I slowly found my rhythm. And, in a blink, those first few days turned into weeks. Before long I knew everyone’s name and they knew mine.  Most importantly, I knew what they drank. Regulars and irregulars. I became as commonplace as the furniture. Only I poured the drinks and they came to drink them.

I saw my fair share of things working the wood through the years. And I heard more than I care to tell. I poured drinks to help people celebrate and I poured drinks to help people forget. In those years people confessed the strangest things to me and shared secrets they hadn’t had the nerve to share with family. Like cancer, job loss and divorce. But I also had people tell me how nice it was to see a smiling face after a bad day. And they thanked me for always knowing exactly what they wanted when they walked in.

For the better part of ten years I worked the wood. And I treated it like home. I switched locations but the wood followed me. No matter where I went I had my regulars. Mostly new but some went where I did. It wasn’t long before I was in charge of creating daily cocktails, experimenting with the rows of bottles behind me and some syrups I made. I put twists on the old classics and created new ones altogether. But I always poured whatever someone ordered. I did it quickly and with a smile. And I did it over half a million times.

Those days are long behind me now. Some lost in the rear view mirror of life. The only cocktails I make now are for our dinner parties or for W and I. Yet there are still days that I stand with my trusted tools and experiment with new recipes, like this one here.  Just for you. I took the classic Tom Collins and stood it on its head. Gin, sage, peaches, fresh lime and orange juice, mineral water and a sage, ginger and cardamom simple syrup. I like to call it the Bomb Collins,  as I did back in the day. It was the drink I made most often when peaches were in season. Like they are now.

Welcome to The Boys Club. What are you drinking?



Mike is the man behind the  blog Verses From My Kitchen.

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About The Author

Mike Lewicki
once worked behind a bar. You can't get better cocktail experience than that. Mike is blogger at Versus From My Kitchen Follow Mike on twitter @mikevfmk.

27 Responses to Bomb Collins

  1. Ken says:

    I had no idea you were a bartender, we are lucky to have you as part of the blog. I love the story and I love the Bomb Collins even more.

  2. Loved reading the story of your bartender days…and this cocktail is just beautiful! (Can cocktails be beautiful?) ;)

  3. Rosemary says:

    the good old days, brings back memories of your long years of bartending your words, picture, and receipe looks great!!

  4. I love the relationship between bartenders, let alone anybody in food service, and their regulars. It makes both parties feel special! Wonderful story and an even better cocktail!

  5. I am just loving this cocktail… that simple syrup sounds divine and has seriously inspired me. So glad we have you on our crew!

  6. Shaina says:

    Mike, I always love your cocktail posts. This has everything I want in a drink. The cardamom and ginger pushed it over the top.

  7. marla says:

    I am wondering if girls can be part of the Boy’s Club? OK maybe not. Look out ’cause I might just crash the party. Love this Bomb Collins!

  8. I’m with Marla, I want to crash the boys club too. You all make a mean drink!

  9. Kristen says:

    I’m beginning to think this blog may be trouble… happy hour every night? That’s not a bad thing, right? Beautiful, as always!

  10. Oh my! This sounds like all things awesome in one drink. I am all over this!
    Really like your site design and photos. Happy to have found it via NoshOn.It, and looking forward to reading more. : )

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  12. Must make soon while peaches are still in season! This is the perfect lounge, social, brunch drink!

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  15. Isis says:

    I too want to join this “boys club” but I’ll settle for trying this drink over the holidaze! CANNOT wait.

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  23. Eva says:

    Hi Mike – thank you for sharing your story. The Bomb Collins sounds delicious, but without the history behind, I would not have put it on the menu for our next affair. I love a good read, I enjoy a good drink.

    Best, Eva

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