Tommy Noble (The Automatic)

Alexis Jesup

“It tastes like it’s been around forever,” is how Dave Cagle, owner of The Automatic in Kendall Square, describes the Tommy Noble. This simple cocktail, named after a barrel-chested British boxer who suffered an infamous string of defeats in the 1920s, has escaped its namesake’s fate and become a bestseller.

Cagle chalks that success up to the intriguing name and simple composition. The drink is made with Pimm’s, an iconic gin-based British liqueur often used to make sweet, citrusy Pimm’s Cups. Cagle created the Tommy Noble in 2003, while he was working at the B-Side Lounge.

“I loved Pimm’s Cups, but we didn’t sell a lot of them,” says Cagle. “They really weren’t a thing in America yet. I wanted to figure out something to do with [Pimm’s].”

Cagle made the drink with equal parts gin and Pimm’s, tempering the combo with lemon juice, simple syrup, and Angostura bitters. It’s completed by a dash of oil from an orange peel, a finishing touch that accentuates the gin’s botanicals.

The drink itself has a powerful orange aroma and a floral, citrusy taste that’s never saccharine or syrupy. It’s followed Cagle from bar to bar, graced the menus of local watering holes like Deep Ellum and Green Street, and has even been sighted as far afield as Atlanta and Seattle.

Tommy Noble
1¼ ounces gin
1¼ ounces Pimm’s
½ ounce lemon juice
½ ounce simple syrup
1 dash Angostura Bitters
Orange peel, to garnish

Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake, then strain into a double old-fashioned glass. Squeeze orange peel above drink to extract its oil, then use as a garnish.

Brian Samuels

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