The amateur cocktail family is taking our annual leave to Folly Beach, just outside Charleston SC. I think this is our fourth year here. We’ve never settled on one house and have rented a different one each visit. This year we opted for a house on the west side of the island facing the salt marsh. Previous years we have had beach front houses. We’ve never been terribly thrilled with any of the beach front places. They’re expensive and always seem a little run down. My mental math would lead me to think that if I was paying the same per night as a hotel, I should get clean sheets, intermittent maid service, some soap in the bathroom…you get it. This year’s house was a little less expensive then the others so my expectations weren’t that high.

Man, was I wrong. This actually feels like a house someone would want to live in. It’s finished nicely, decorated and has furnished baths and bedrooms. I am very happy we found it. The views out the back at sunset are spectacular. Now, most importantly for the blog, it has some rudimentary bar supplies. I’m pretty sure house guest are encouraged to “mix it up.” The little sign on the cabinet holding the cocktail glasses says “Martini Time.”

We turned up some shakers and a small bottle of dry vermouth in the cabinets. Funny coincidence, we had brought perishable items from home to use  up, including six lemons and limes (hated to see them go to waste while we were gone) as well as several bottles of sparkling mineral water to drink instead of the fairly hard tap water. Call me superstitious, but the combination of our discoveries and the supplies we brought with us made me think we were meant to make some drinks. We just needed a couple of things. I made a half recipe of simple syrup. Our next trip off the island included a stop at the mecca that is Total Wine & More. In South Carolina, the “& More” is a liquor store, the right-hand half of our store.

Total Wine

This an interesting place. Lots of the wines are sourced directly by buyers for the chain.  This seems to be the case for some of the liquor as well. I came away with a bottle of Maxim’s Gin for a very fair price, $5 less per bottle than our current favorite-Boodles. Haven’t seen it anywhere else. It is made in Cognac from a grain base spirit:  I don’t know the whole story behind it, but for mixing, it seemed servicable.

So, with everything in hand, we squezed the limes and lemons and built a couple of Tom Collins.


(Ignore the tasty World Market Blood Orange soda in the far left glass)

Eric Felten’s Tom Collins recipe:

  1-1/2 ounce gin

  juice of 1/2 lemon

  1/4 to 1/2 ounce of 2:1 simple syrup

  2 to 3 ounces of soda water

Build on the rocks in a short highball glass.


With drinks in hand we headed to the back porch to enjoy a beautiful sunset