Thursday, October 7, 2010

Art of the Cocktail et cetera.

First of all, This is why I WISH I was in Victoria next weekend:  Art of the Cocktail.  This wonderful looking event is actually a fundraiser for the Victoria Film Festival.  If you are anywhere close and there are still tickets available, head on over. See lots of super bartenders, brand ambassadors and cocktail luminaries such as Dr. Cocktail himself, Ted Haigh.  

You Victorians are so lucky,  they make delicious artisanal gin and orange bitters in your town and now this!  Stratford (Ont.) hosted its own itty-bitty (but fabulous) cocktail fundraiser a couple weeks ago. Cocktails for a Cause seems to be a trend. Lets keep it up.

Next announcement:  as promised, a formerly unavailable product is now (sort of) available at the LCBOntario. Drum roll please. OLD TOM GIN!!!!  Good news: you can get it. Bad news: as soon as it was available, it was discontinued just as quickly.  As of this entry, the LCBO was still in possession of 132 bottles of this magic elixir (Hayman’s brand). 

For the uninitiated, old tom is a kind of gin like London dry or genever.  It is the gin that London dry gin is “dry” compared to, which is to say it is sweetened and, is often more heavily flavoured than dry gin.  It preceded dry gin and was, for a long time more popular.  It is often called the “missing link” between genever (dutch or Geneva) gin and the modern dry style.  In its day, it served an important function.  Before modern distillation techniques took hold, unaged liquor often had a harsh, jetfuelish taste. The flavours and botanicals added to early gins helped mask this nastiness. Old tom was the English industrial revolution, mass-produced version of gin.  It was designed to be cheap, and drunk straight, often on-the-run.

The story goes that it got its name from London tavern owners in the 1800s  who installed a plaque in the shape of a cat on the outside of their establishments.  The plaque had a slot for a coin and a tube going inside. A “drive-thru” patron could get a shot of this stuff outside by putting a coin in the kitty’s mouth and putting their cup (or mouth) under the spout. YIKES!   No slot for an age of majority card…

Anyway, our hero Charles H. Baker says that a bottle of old tom is more important than vodka to a home bar.  Tom Collinses, old school gin fizzes, Martinezes… more recipes here.  132 lucky Ontarians should run out and grab this cool little piece of booze history. 


  1. Hey
    Kitchener has over 20 in stock!?! Do you want me to pick some up for you?

  2. I have almost a full bottle here that had to come from California. But you should invest in a bottle yourself. I am going to test the Stratford LCBO and see if they can successfully bring 1 in for me. As it begins to disappear we will have to hoard and stockpile.

  3. I did indeed invest in one today based on your good advice. I now expect you to come and mix up an evening of gin fizzes!

    While purchasing, I suggested it was "rare" and the cashier tried to explain they'd had it forever and it won't sell out anytime soon..?

  4. RE: cashiers comment: what absolute twaddle! I swear they didn't have it 6 months ago and it has already been discontinued according to their own site. What if there is a run on the stuff.
    I can't wait for the evening of gin fizzes, I'll bring the orange flower water.