At the Pool Lounge, the lavish, seafood-themed cocktail bar attached to the recently revamped Four Seasons in Midtown Manhattan, bar director Thomas Waugh is serving his most audaciously delicious cocktail yet. Simply named the Tomato Cocktail, the drink manages to breathe new life into what a cocktail made with tomatoes can be.
Inspired by last summer’s tomatoes—which Waugh was lucky enough to have an abundance of in his walk-in at the restaurant—the Tomato Cocktail manages to harness a tomato’s sweetness and vibrancy, rather than its savory qualities. “To be perfectly honest, I don’t like Bloody Mary’s,” says Waugh. “I’m not really fond of chunky drinks or spicy cocktails. I find that alcohol and spice don’t work well together. People love it, they love their spicy mezcal margaritas, but they just don’t vibe well with me.” Instead, the cocktail is built around the structure of a basic sour—booze, sweetness, and lip smacking acidity—and relies heavily on the fresh fruit he was inspired by.
“The drink is really simple actually,” says Waugh, “there’s a tomato-infused vodka, a little bit of tequila—to bring out those vegetal notes—muddled tomatoes (with a touch of sea salt), fresh lemon juice, elderflower liqueur, and a teaspoon of cane sugar. I add a minute amount of sugar because the elderflower liqueur is actually not sweet enough to balance the acidity of the tomato and the lemon. If you add too much elderflower liqueur the cocktail just ends up tasting like elderflower. You need to still taste the tomatoes as the main ingredient. The elderflower should sit at the back [of your palate], helping bring out more of those floral, aromatic components out of the tomato,” Waugh reveals.