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 (www.lifesacocktail.com) 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.
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 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.
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.