The Tom Cat

December 20, 2017

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes: One endearing quality of hygge is its embrace of nostalgia and tradition. Vintage decor, clothing styles, and recipes are celebrated facets of a hygge lifestyle. This cocktail recipe, inspired by a nineteenth- century British gin recipe, is an updated version of the original Old Tom gin cocktail, with the addition of mezcal from Mexico for smokiness, vermouth for sweetness, and bitters for complexity. Old Tom gin is appreciated by contemporary bartenders because it’s considered a missing gin link, being a bit drier than Dutch jenever and a little sweeter than London Dry. It’s available in most well- stocked liquor stores, but if you have trouble sourcing it, opt for a drier gin, since this recipe already includes a sweet spirit. This is a fantastically elegant cocktail—so be prepared, your guests will most likely request more than one.

Excerpted from The Hygge Life: Embracing the Nordic Art of Coziness Through Recipes, Entertaining, Decorating, Simple Rituals, and Family Traditions by Gunnar Karl Gíslason and Jody Eddy (Ten Speed Press). Copyright © 2017.
Jody Eddy

Makes: 2 cocktails


The Tom Cat

  • 2 ounces Hayman’s Old Tom gin
  • 2 ounces mezcal
  • 1 1/2 ounces dry sherry
  • 1 1/2 ounces sweet vermouth (Antica is a good choice)
  • 8 drops House Bitters (recipe below)
  • Ice cubes
  • Dehydrated grapefruit slices for garnish

House Bitters

  • Peels from 3 oranges and 2 grapefruits, pith scraped away with a paring knife, thinly sliced
  • Peel from 1 lemon, thinly sliced
  • 2 1/2 cups overproof rum (rum with an alcohol content greater than 57.5%)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 star anise pod
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
In This Recipe


The Tom Cat

  1. In a cocktail shaker, combine the gin, mezcal, sherry, vermouth, and bitters. Add enough ice to fill the shaker to the top and shake vigorously. Strain into two coupe glasses containing a few large chunks of ice and garnish with grapefruit slices before serving.

House Bitters

  1. Preheat the oven to 225°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange two- thirds of the orange peels and all of the grapefruit peels on the prepared baking sheet and bake until the peels are completely dehydrated, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool to room temperature and then remove from the parchment paper.
  2. In a large, sterilized glass jar fitted with a tight lid, combine the dehydrated peels with the lemon peel, rum, cinnamon, star anise, cardamom, and nutmeg. Shake vigorously and store in a warm, dry place near a window for 2 to 2½ weeks, or until the desired flavor intensity is achieved.
  3. Transfer the liquid to a pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer for 5 minutes and then let cool to room temperature. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve with a double layer of cheesecloth. Using a funnel, transfer the bitters to small bottles fitted with eye- droppers. The bitters will keep in a cool, dry place for up to a year.

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Reviews (2) Questions (0)

2 Reviews

Alice Z. December 30, 2017
The recipe for the bitters includes cardamom and star anise in the instructions but not the ingredients list. How much of each should we add?
Annabelle December 29, 2017
The bitters recipe has us reserve one orange peel but never says when to add it. I assume with e lemon peel?