By Charlie Wohlrab
Wondering what to get Dad for Father’s Day? How about something he will enjoy and doesn’t already have? Might I suggest Tom Cat Gin by Barr Hill. I was recently introduced to this sweet, spicy spirit (86 Proof by the label, but seems more potent than that). This is a fine “sippin whisky,” neat or on the rocks, that doesn’t taste much like a gin. There is a subtle gin note, but the honey really makes it pleasant and unique.
This spirit can find its way into cocktails with ingredients any well-stocked home bar or liquor cabinet should have. As I do not like cocktails that require anything that is only used in that particular cocktail, and since I don’t want to drink the same cocktail every night, that very special ingredient invariably leads to a half bottle taking up space on a crowded shelf in my home bar. However, the recipe for a Tomcat Gin Old-Fashioned Cocktail that follows is one that can be made with what your Dad should have on hand.
Charlie Wohlrab is a mixologist whose motto, “Drinking. . .more than a hobby” has been topmost in his mind since he first started tending bar while getting his Pharmacy degree. Now retired, when he’s not restoring his older home in New Jersey, he’s made it his goal to elevate the experience of having a daily cocktail from something mundane to something more exciting. This month he makes his Bartender’s Best debut and is now Harrisburg Magazine’s official bartender in residence.
“My recipes are like my opinions,” says Wohlrab. “They continue to be refined as I try new products and work with old standbys.” Currently working on a book about cocktails, Wolhrab welcomes comments from his readers. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tomcat Gin Old-Fashioned
• 2 ounces Tomcat Gin
• 1/4 teaspoon sugar
• Dash Angostura Bitters
• Club soda
• Orange slice and cherry
In an “Old Fashioned Glass” (Rocks Glass) put the sugar and a couple dashes of Bitters. Add a splash of club soda and stir to dissolve. Fill the glass with crushed ice and add the Tomcat Gin. Top with club soda. You know what to do with the orange slice and cherry. Be very judicious with the sugar. You just want enough to absorb the bitters as the gin is very sweet. I recommend using crushed ice because as the ice melts, the flavor mellows.
If you are enjoying this cocktail at home- no problem; but if you are out, I suggest you have the “Uber number app” on your phone (I’m an Old Guy), as this drink packs a wallop.
This recipe uses Angostura Bitters which should be a staple in any home that enjoys a cocktail. However, may I suggest another gift for Dad? Peychaud’s Bitters. This product is a little harder to find but well worth the hunt as the taste is bright and adds a light citrusy note to a cocktail enjoyed in the afternoon or early evening. Thanks to the Internet, a few keystrokes and the Peychaud’s Bitters will appear at your door. If you already have the Peychaud’s, here is another drink you and your special Dad may enjoy together.
• 2 ounces Tomcat Gin
• 1/4 ounce Sweet Vermouth
• Peychaud’s Bitters
Fill a cocktail mixing glass ½ full of crushed ice. Add the Tomcat Gin and Sweet Vermouth, a couple dashes of Peychaud’s Bitters, and stir gently. Pour into rocks glasses and fill with crushed ice. I usually use the ice from the mixing glass and top with crushed ice. Add a couple of cherries and a “Soda Back” and you are good to go. (Soda Back – how experienced drinkers ask for a glass of Club Soda to accompany their Cocktail).
Enjoy! And Happy Father’s Day.