I’d like to introduce you to John. John Collins. He’s a new friend of mine. And becoming a closer and closer friend most days this summer…

I started the summer by saying I wanted to “perfect” one thing. You know, like some people make their Famous Potato Salad or their Signature Macaroni and Cheese? I envisioned myself making recipe after recipe, taking a technique from here and an ingredient there, ultimately building the quintessentially dish. I thought it might be potato salad, actually, since I’m a huge fan. But it turns out I’m lazy reluctant to boil and chop up all those potatoes to start. And waiting for them to cool down so you can make the salad… wait up a whole minute there while I find something easier to make!

It turns out I have spent most evenings this summer perfecting one thing—if you call one thing four or five different cocktails. 🙂 I’ve made Aperol spritzers…

I’m obsessed with Aperol. It’s kind of a bitter orange liqueur, and it’s Italy in a glass. Well, to me, anyway. Buy a bottle. The recipes on the back are good, I’ve made them all. 😉

And margaritas… Btw, did you KNOW that you do not need a mix to make margaritas??? First, go and throw that sickly sweet mix in the trash. Then get three things: tequila, Triple Sec, and limes (2). Maybe some salt for the glass. Next pour 1.5 ounces of Teq and .5 ounces of TS, and 2 oz of lime juice in the glass (if you have one big lime, you’re probably good. If you have small limes, you’ll need 1.5). Nope, you don’t need sugar! Try it and you’ll see…

And something I think I made up that I call Nuked Tequilajitos. (No picture, sorry. Though isn’t it fun to imagine?) It’s just mint muddled with lime and simple syrup made in the microwave (So easy! Keep reading!) and tequila instead of rum, since that was what I had on hand, and it was good!

But my favorite so far is the John Collins. Most people have vaguely heard about Tom Collins. But not many know about John. Apparently he’s the brother “cousin” that escaped moved to Mexico after a mysterious robbery-gone-wrong “delivery job” that nobody mentions anymore. Wait… or is that just my family?

Anyway, it’s like a Tom Collins, but instead of gin, you use bourbon. And instead of making your mouth pucker up like you just tasted violet perfume mixed with weird lemonade, it tastes like sipping every last bit of sweet summer sun from the sky at the end of a long day. You should make one. Really. It’s not hard! Here’s what to do:

  1. Get bourbon, lemon, sugar, sparkling water of some kind (seltzer, club soda), (Do not ask me if you can use Jack Daniels instead of bourbon. I never think whiskey is bourbon. I know it technically is, but to me it’s not. If you think it is, then use it.)
  2. Juice the lemon until you’ve got 1 oz. For me, that’s usually a half a lemon plus a squeeze or two from the other half, but I don’t have a juicer, just squeeze the old fashioned way.
  3. Make a bit of simple syrup (in the microwave!). So, as much as I’ve always loved cocktails, I’ve also always avoided recipes that call for simple syrup. “Boil on the stove… Blah. Blah. Blah.” I know it’s not hard, but I don’t want to wait for something to boil and cool. I’m an impatient, last-minute cook, and I need it noooow! Then, I desperately wanted to make this cocktail and I thought, “I just need to dissolve the sugar. Sugar will dissolve in any hot liquid, right? And what’s faster for getting things hot than the microwave?!” I swear an actual old-timey light bulb appeared over my head when I thought of this. So I put equal parts sugar and water (2 tbsp.) in a little mug, set it for 30 sec in the microwave, and out came a liquid that I decided was simple syrup! I was so happy, I did a little dance. A whole world of cocktails now opened to me, thanks to the wonders of modern technology! (You only need .5 oz. for one of these drinks.)
  4. Now start pouring lemon and simple syrup into your shaker with a few ice cubes. Pour in 1.5 oz. of bourbon. Be sure to measure!! Just trust me. I’ve learned it’s the only way to keep your drinks from tasting like the rubbing alcohol with the yellowing label in Aunt Trudy’s bathroom cabinet. And you don’t need a fancy “shaker”. This is what I used.

Finish with a splash of sparkling water. (If you don’t have that, just add a bit of regular water! Or nothing! It will still taste good.) Then you drink it up. And you’re already having a good night… Maybe John will become your good friend, too!

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