Holiday Gift Guide
Tommy Collins for the masses

This past week has been quite a bittersweet one for me. On the bitter side, one of my favorite musicians passed away; my people in Iran are facing unimaginable cruelty in their fight to take back a dream stolen from them first in 1953 and again in 1979; and of least relative importance, my computer's hard drive crashed and burned for reasons yet unknown. So it is a surreal experience, to say the least, that I find myself sitting behind a borrowed computer writing about cocktails of all things, while a veritable whirlwind is spinning around me.

Yet throughout the chaos and tragedy, life faithfully proves there are moments of glory, celebration, and laughter to be savored along the way. In fact, it's as if the bitter and the sweet have a symbiotic relationship in which the presence of one is necessary to fully experience the other. Thus despite the barrage of bad news this week, there was a proverbial silver lining for me.

This week I finally brought to fruition a business project that I've been working on for most of this year, which up to now had only resided in my imagination. It is called Life's a Cocktail, and its purpose is to elevate the art of the cocktail by focusing on four general areas: cocktail consulting for restaurants; signature cocktail services for special events; cocktail edutainment for smaller private parties; and marketing, ambassadorship, and public relations tailored to upstart spirit brands and micro-distilleries. The website ( is currently under construction, so if you go to the url all you'll see is a "coming soon!" sign, but in the coming weeks the rest of the details will be unveiled on the site.

On Monday I had the first opportunity to put my vision to the test, as Life's a Cocktail created and presented the signature cocktail for the VIP reception of the first annual Tommy Awards, a ceremony honoring the contributions of outstanding USC alumni, named after the USC mascot, Tommy Trojan. The distinguished honorees included Steve Smith of the NY Giants, Broadway producer Kevin McCollum, and film director Andy Tennant.

Life's a CocktailService with a smile!

Appropriately, the signature cocktail I created for the event is called the Tommy Collins, a refreshing thyme-infused alternative to the classic summer cooler, the Tom Collins.

Tommy Awards Signature Cocktail Menu

Tommy Collins (aka Thyme Collins)
1.5 oz gin (London Dry or Plymouth)
1 oz thyme-infused syrup
1 oz lemon juice
club soda to top
cherry, lemon for garnish (optional)

Tools: shaker, strainer

Glass: Collins (above recipe is according to 10 oz glass, so adjust amounts as necessary)

Fill a Collins or other tall glass with ice. Place all ingredients except club soda in a shaker also filled with ice. Shake and strain into the glass, top with club soda, and stir. Add optional garnish.

Tommy Collins (aka Thyme Collins)

I prefer this drink shaken and strained over ice per above, but if serving a large group, you can simplify your life by making the Collins mix (everything but the club soda) in advance, keeping the same ratio as above. Right before serving, give the mix a good stir to redistribute the ingredients. Then simply fill glasses with ice, pour mix about halfway, then top with the club soda and stir. For drinks such as this it's always a good idea to provide a stirrer for guests, especially if you're not shaking each drink.

For the event I made over 4 gallons of thyme syrup alone, and have a good 1/2 gallon to spare, so if any of you are local and thirsty, feel free to come on through for a drink, although I think I've had my entire summer's share just from testing and perfecting this drink the week before. Then again, there's always room for one or five more.

Here's to life's bittersweet moments. Cheers.

*Paystyle was born in Tehran and grew up in Los Angeles (aka Tehrangeles) before moving to Brooklyn with his wife and co-pilot Vanessa Bahmani who provides the stunning photography of Pay's cocktail concoctions. Return every Wednesday for his weekly Happy Hour column.
Column: Happy Hour


  • Kyle – Thanks for reading and commenting! I'm glad you enjoyed the drink.

    Paystyle on

  • I was drinking these all night post-Tommys, and I couldn't wait to try and make one at home. . . Now I can!

    Kyle on

  • Kayoko,

    Thanks! I really owe a lot to you, b/c you provided a forum in which I was able to test out ideas that had only previously existed in my mind.

    I must say I was really nervous initially, and didn't easily trust myself at first, despite having prepared for this event for quite some time. Ultimately I think most people liked the drink.

    I'm not in LA though—not even in CA right now. Interestingly enough, this event was in NYC. There is a slight possibility though that I'll be in the Yay in August.

    Paystyle on

  • OMG PAY THIS IS SO EXCITING!!! Congratulations x5000 for launching Life's a Cocktail! This is awesome- it's your dream business! So inspiring that you're actually doing it- can't wait to hear more about it!

    Wait… does this mean you're in LA right now? Any chance you're coming up to the Yay Area?

    kayoko on

  • Persian Kitchen – Thanks for the kind words, and thanks for reading. Please check in every week b/c I think you'll enjoy it.

    As for your venture, I'm also very excited for you! I love your blog, and can't wait to see when you unveil 2.0. Over here at UM we're also unveiling a revamped version of the site, so also stay tuned for that!

    Paystyle on

  • So I am a little late about this, but better late than never. I am so happy for you. I can only imagine how excited you must be to see your dream come to fruition. I am just about where you are with your venture with my blog. I recently purchased my own domain and will be moving everything over and expanding. By the way I love the name! Wishing you much success!

    Persian Kitchen on

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