See Jane Drink

See Jane Drink

by Sweet Jane
I live in Chicago where spring is more an existential argument than a season. The average temperature since April Fool's Day (a day no one in Chicago over the age of 10 finds amusing) has been 45 degrees. So yesterday when the thermometer hit a freakish 87 degrees (it's 55 today, by the way), the entire city grilled burgers, including me. (Thanks to Jack & Pat's Irish Meats-freshly ground porterhouse patties-and Martha Stewart-sprinkle kosher salt onto both sides of patty and nothing else; let sit at room temperature to tenderize for about 30 minutes before grilling-I make the best burgers. That is not open to discussion; this is a booze site.) The event was the first burger of the grilling season, so only the perfect drink would do. A traditional summer patio drink was premature. (The outdoor furniture isn't prepped and frankly we haven't yet done the annual spring minefield sweep. We have two Siberian huskies...). I wanted something classic, but unique. Straightforward but unexpected. My choice? The Jane & Tonic. I love a traditional gin & tonic. A Tanq & Tonic is my go-to wedding cocktail. (Tanqueray Rangpur makes a lovely change of pace.) And I've posted my love of a Rogue SpruceGin & Tonic ("It tastes... cold. You know, like you are up high on a snowy mountain, surrounded by pines. I love juniper, which is why I love gin. And it has never tasted so pure as in this gin.") But when I wanted an especially crisp, bright G&T, I invented my own. There are three key differences between the J&T and the G&T. Take note:

  • Like it's its cousin the classic gimlet, the J&T is all about the lime. No simple garnish, the lime is the backbone of this drink. Take note: you will use clarified lime juice and fresh limes.

  • The tonic water must be the real deal. Use only tonic water made from pure cane sugar, not high fructose corn syrup (sorry, Schweppes and Canada Dry). Boylan's is excellent, as are Fever Tree and Q Tonic, but all can be hard to find. If you shop at Whole Foods, they sell a canned tonic water under their own name that is very good and very cheap. I don't live near a Whole Foods, so I stock up on the stuff whenever I can.

  • This is the most important thing: The Jane & Tonic is made with Old Tom gin, which is a style of gin, not a brand. Old Tom is an 18th century English gin that is quite a bit sweeter than the standard London Dry. In addition to the taste, which lends itself beautifully to tonic, Old Tom gin is noteworthy for its color: a warm, inviting gold. A Jane & Tonic will not be mistaken for a gin & tonic. Try the tantalizing Ransom Old Tom Gin-worth every minute you spend looking for it and every penny you spend on it. So next time you go outdoors for burgers that will be inferior to mine, or toss a couple steaks on the grill, consider the Jane & Tonic (recipe below). And let me know what you think.
  • Cheers!

    The Jane & Tonic

    ½ to ¾ ounce of clarified lime juice

        (I have made my own, but am very happy with

    Stirrings Clarified Key Lime Juice

        and highly recommend. Keep a bottle in the fridge. Throw a splash into club soda for a refreshing non-alcoholic drink or kiddie cocktail.)

    3 ounces Old Tom Gin

        (I keep mine in the freezer. Can a summer cocktail be too cold?)

    Half a lime

        (Yes, a full half. Pop a lime into the microwave for about 15-20 seconds to release the juices. Then roll it over the cutting board with the palm of your hand. Cut in half and use for two J&Ts.)

    Tonic waterFill a tall glass about three-quarters with ice. (Not surprisingly I suppose, I have a thing about ice. But more about that in a future commentary.) Pour clarified lime juice over the ice. Next, pour the Old Tom. Then squeeze in the half-lime and toss it in (yes, the whole half).Top with fresh cold tonic water, to taste.

    You are very welcome.

    "Sweet Jane" is Jane Flynn-Royko and a contributing writer for Proof66. The first cocktail she recalls making was a rum and Coke for an aunt when she was 12 years old. She lives in Chicago with her husband and son, and roots for the White Sox. When at Comiskey Park, she patronizes the "Beers of the World" vendor in section 157.

    Published by