THE TOM CRUZ is named for its creator, Le Chalet bartender Tom Máthé. But it was a happy guest, and not Máthé himself, who christened the drink. One New York night he put the Tom Cruz together for a table that wanted bespoke cocktails made with varied spirits. They ordered the cognac drink for their second round. Then they ordered another after dinner. One guest wanted to know what they should ask for the next time they craved this cocktail. “[It's] such a nice request, but one that I find hard to fulfill, since I put a lot of effort into naming drinks,” Máthé says. The guest decided Tom was a good name, and since the table included former New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz, they all decided Tom Cruz would be a very appropriate name. “There was a round of laughter and a general consensus that the name was fitting,” Máthé writes. The group did order again, and again, and eventually, the drink landed on the official Le Chalet cocktail menu.
The fresh ingredients add a little froth, and the cocktail itself should be a bright, golden green.
Pierre Ferrand consulted with cocktail and spirits historian David Wondrich to create the 1840 Cognac used in this drink. This is their first cognac designed for mixing, so it’s ideal for bringing out flavors like the pandan syrup in the Tom Cruz. Many bartenders give credit to Nico de Soto, the consulting bartender for Le Chalet, for popularizing pandan in cocktails, but Máthé fell in love with the herb as well: “It’s transportive, and to put that kind of essence into a cocktail that is also deemed refreshing creates a nice dynamism. It’s a real wonder of an ingredient. And it’s pretty,” he writes. The Tom Cruz has no garnish because it needs no garnish. The fresh ingredients add a little froth, and the cocktail itself should be a bright, golden green — all the visual flair you’ll need.
Le Chalet is one floor below L'Avenue. Both restaurant and bar are tucked inside New York’s flagship Saks Fifth Avenue department store. L'Avenue’s terrace overlooks Rockefeller Center, but it’s removed from the Midtown chaos, and the Philippe Starck–designed interiors make you forget that you’re inside a store. “The main dining area is a resplendent golden room that hums with energy and is at its best during the pink sunsets of summer,” Máthé says “when it is vibrantly lit and uncannily pretty.” It’s a fitting background for a transportive drink like the Tom Cruz.
- ¼ oz of fresh cucumber juice
- ¾ oz of lime juice
- ¾ oz of pandan syrup*
- 2 oz of Pierre Ferrand 1840 cognac
- *To prepare the pandan syrup, blend together a basic simple syrup that is 1:1 sugar to water by weight. For each liter of the syrup, add 20 pandan leaves and 2 g of kosher salt. Blend in a Vitamix (or comparable blender) for 2 minutes. Strain the blended syrup through a chinois or fine strainer.
- Combine all ingredients and shake until absolutely frigid, then double strain over a king cube (a single ice cube that takes up a majority of the glass’s volume) into a double rocks glass. It should fill the glass nicely and have a vibrant green hue that is only slightly muddied by the aging on the cognac. It has no garnish otherwise.
Jessica Suarez Writer
Jessica Suarez is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York.
Grant Cornett Photographer
Grant Cornett is a photographer and director based in Upstate New York. He likes to take pictures of pristine detritus and austere moments.