I want to start by saying, I promised myself I wasn’t going to sell anyone bullshit on this Adventure. That is to say, I’m going to call each drink exactly as I see it. The one’s I like, the one’s I don’t, they all get a honest story. You know, In my circles, I am not just well known for being handsome, funny and wildly humble, I’m well known for being blunt and honest too.
Are we clear? Good, let’s get started.
Tom Collins. I’m just going to come out and say it: pool water. There, deal with it. Pool water. It was like a lemony pool party in my mouth.
Let me set the scene: Joe and I were invited to spend the afternoon in Annapolis, MD by our good friends Courtney and Jordan to celebrate Courtney’s 27th Birthday.
First we attempted to visit the Naval Academy, but they were closing down visitation for the day and I only got to make a few inappropriate seaman/port authority jokes, sadly. I have many.
The day was a bit rainy, so we spent the day bar hopping—I tried much of the area’s finest ginger-ale—and took in the sights before heading to our reservation at Level, a small plates restaurant.
If you’ve never been, Annapolis is a quaint little port city filled with tiny art shops, ice cream parlors, the Naval Academy and many, many
many bars. It’s literally a 35 minute drive from DC and a really nice place to meander for a day—especially if you like fresh crab and you love to drink.
Check, and testing those waters.
After paying our final tab, we settled into Level at the end of the day. They are locally well known and well awarded for producing local, sustainable, imaginative
bacontastic and all hand-crafted food and drinks. They make everything on site from the ice cream to the sauces to the soda.
The food was ridiculously delicious and creative. Being small plates, I think we had about 75% of the menu ordered when our first drinks arrived. I ordered their classic Tom Collins. If you’re unaware, it consists of gin, lemon, sugar and soda water. This was my first taste of gin.
Ok, so let me start again. The drink was pretty mild, lemony, a touch dry, only slightly sweet, quietly bitter… pool water.
Work with me people. At first when I mentioned this at the table everyone gave me that look like “oh, you’re adorable, you crazy virgin.” And then after
forcing asking them to try it, none of them could get the “pool water” reference out of their heads.
Hold on, does it help that I like pools, pool parties, and hot tubs? This is to say, I didn’t dislike the drink. I was certainly not loving it or lamenting it being my only one for the night, but it was perfectly fine, just not great.
I could make out the gin right away at the top of the drink but it was muddled with the sugar, lemon and soda. But, nicely enough, as my glass got closer to empty, the gin took on a life of it’s own and I was really enjoying the hits of earthy pine-tree notes, the bitterness, the zing. But seriously, dip a glass into a pool, add a packet of sugar and throw in a lemon—BLAMO!—meet Mr. Collins.
I have already been told by some good friends and a few bartenders that my Amaretto Sour post inspired several of them to either try one for the first time or enjoy one again after many years. I don’t know if that will be the case for a Tom Collins.
I’m perfectly alright with that.
[Make a note for yourself to take “Tom Collins” off your list for future celebrity cocktail endorsements on your as-yet-to-be-invited Celebrity DrinkMaster World Tour. I’ll just keep waiting by the phone for my invite...]
I will say, I’m excited to try more gin drinks as I do think I like most of the qualities of the gin’s flavor and profile. But time will tell, I suppose.
As they say: you win some you pool some. (I smell a t-shirt tie-in!)
Super big cheers to Level for a great meal, Jordan and Courtney for inviting us and covering our tabs and the city of Annapolis for a fun one-tank trip.
And to you, Cheers as well, Ben
PS: The drinking continues through the weekend with a New Castle during the Super Bowl. And then I have a Port-a-thon wine tasting lined up for next week and I’m still working out the details for 1-2 more firstdrinks for next week. I should name my liver so I can properly whisper sweet nothings to it while it slowly struggles with my life choices.