Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A toast to Mike Collins

Whenever I've been on WFAE's "Charlotte Talks," there is always that moment when the "on air" light turns on, the music cues up through my headphones, host Mike Collins starts his patter - and I give a big gulp. Here comes a chance to make a fool of myself while thousands of people are listening.

It's enough to make a girl wish she had a good cocktail at 9 in the morning. Not that I would indulge so early, but still.

So when a new cocktail book, "The Ultimate Cocktail Book," by Bill Reveall and Neil Mersh landed on my desk the other day, guess what caught my eye? The Mike Collins.

Yes, there is a Mike Collins cocktail. Sadly, it doesn't have anything to do with our longtime talk-radio host. It's a variation in the large Collins family, iced cocktails that always include lemon juice and soda water. Tom Collins is the best known, made with gin, but there are collinses. I've dallied on occasion with the John Collins, made with bourbon or rye. There's the Juan Collins, with tequila, the Pierre Collins, with brandy, and the Comrade Collins, with vodka. There's even a nonalcoholic version called a Phil Collins. And apparently, there's a Mike Collins, made with Irish whiskey.

Still, knowing there's a Mike Collins is a good excuse to raise a glass to our own Mike Collins. Mike, here's to you. And your mic.

Mike Collins From "The Ultimate Cocktail Book" ($17.95, Hamlyn).

5 to 6 ice cubes
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon simple syrup (see note)
3 ounces Irish whiskey
1 orange slice
1 maraschino cherry
Club soda or seltzer
Orange rind spiral

Put the ice cubes into a cocktail shaker. Pour the lemon juice, sugar syrup and whiskey over the ice and shake until a frost forms. Pour, without straining, into a tumbler or Collins glass and add the orange slice and cherry speared on a cocktail stick. Top with soda water, stir lightly and serve decorated with an orange rind spiral.