“Professor” Jerry Thomas: Crushed Strawberry Fizz
According to Wondrich’s Imbibe!, Jerry Thomas was the first to write about the Gin Fizz in 1872. By then it seems the cocktail was already on its way to becoming the wide-spread staple that was soon to birth a dozen iconic variations. Among the variations important enough to grace Wondrich’s pages, the Crushed Strawberry Fizz is alleged to come from the St. Nicholas Hotel in SoHo, New York.
The St. Nicholas was a short-lived but thoroughly extravagant hotel, claiming to be the first in NYC to cost over $1 million. Descriptions of the hotel’s interior invoke images of the Titanic—a glittering interior of gold leaf and gold thread, heavy damask, mirrors, chandeliers, mahogany and white oak, and mother of pearl. The hotel declined in the late 1870s and closed its doors in 1884, but was known for being the scene for sexual liaisons. Over all, an environment of frivolity and high society emerges as a perfect stage for a drink as bright and effervescent as the Crushed Strawberry Fizz.
The cocktail is a delight to drink, a sparkling gin fizz that walks the line of acid and sweet, with a stable base of Old Tom whose sole purpose, it seems, is just to support. Our version of this fizz is made with Old Tom gin, lemon juice, and strawberry gomme syrup, with a topping of soda water. It is always available but is featured in a cocktail flight dedicated to Thomas on Volume 5B along with the Hot Whiskey Toddy and the Japanese Cocktail.