Tom Nook by Leanne Su

FLAVOR NOTES: bright, citrusy, sweet
VIBE NOTES: rich, comfy, smooth

The first time I encountered Tom Nook was on a used copy of Wild World that I played on my 3DS under the name “Bob.” I didn’t mean to be a Bob–I’d never played video games and didn’t understand how save files worked, so when I booted up the game for the first time and woke up in a giant mansion filled with cockroaches, I didn’t really question it.

Tom Nook was just a chill dude who ran the store.

By now I’ve learned how save files work, and I’ve plugged in probably thousands of combined hours on Wild World, New Leaf, and New Horizons. I’ve also learned about Tom Nook’s reputation as a filthy capitalist, which quite frankly I think is a bit harsh. The guy gives you a house with an interest-free loan and asks you to pay him back “whenever” with money you get selling weeds to his nephews. That’s not a filthy capitalist, that’s just a cool dude with a bunch of money.

Anyway, I could write an essay on the economic stance of Tom Nook and its evolution throughout Animal Crossing, but that’s not what I’m here for. I’m here to make a drink based on our (third) favorite tanuki for an interest-free loan of nothing.

This drink is based on a whiskey sour. 

I desperately wanted to use yuzu juice for the citrus, but it turns out that it’s illegal to import from Asia and stupid expensive to buy from an American grower. So we’re making do with lemon! We’ll also be candying some lemons and adding lil stars to them for our Bell garnishes.

Finally, I wanted to incorporate one of the other highly disparaged members of the game: the bee. I know they’re wasps in New Horizons and therefore no longer kind and sympathetic, but when you have spiders and scorpions running around the island that attack you on sight, having a couple of buzzy boys getting mad when you try to chop down their house doesn’t seem too bad. We’ll be decorating our candied lemons with bee pollen, which as I recently found out, is collected via what amounts to a welcome mat at the honeycomb. Cute as hell! Just like Tom!

I used Elijah Craig whiskey because it’s a nice and affordable whiskey that isn’t too sweet but still has the flavor and punch of many of the more “high-end” bourbons. I initially tried to cut little star shapes into the lemon slices to shape them like bells, but it turns out that’s a pretty challenging task. I instead opted to artfully arrange the bee pollen on top of the candied lemon slice in the shape of a star. For some additional flavor, I went with some orange bitters. My island is an apple island, but I have enough oranges in my island orchard that I felt justified using orange bitters.

The end product is a lovely, smooth bourbon drink with just the right balance of sour and sweet. The bee pollen and candied lemon complement each other surprisingly well—definitely a garnish worth eating at the end of your drink. The honey syrup adds a nice amount of funk. I like my drinks on the sweeter side so I opted for 1 oz instead of ¾ oz of honey syrup, but you can always adjust that amount if you want it less sweet. And so we have the Tom Nook: a rich, warming drink, perfect to play Animal Crossing and count your bells to.

The Recipe:

2 oz bourbon

¾ oz lemon juice

1 oz honey syrup (1 part water 1 part honey)

1 egg white

dash of orange bitters

bee pollen

candied lemon slice

Dry shake egg white in a mixer. Add in bourbon, lemon juice, honey syrup, orange bitters, and ice. Shake. Strain into coupe glass. Garnish with a candied lemon slice and bee pollen on top.

Candied lemons:

Bring equal parts sugar and water to a boil in a pan. Thinly slice lemons and place them in the pan. Simmer until lemon slices are slightly translucent around the peel.

Honey syrup:

Mix equal parts honey and water until honey is fully dissolved.

Leanne Su is a second-generation Chinese American woman from Seattle, WA. She is currently studying as a Ph.D. candidate in aerospace engineering at the University of Michigan, researching high-power electric propulsion. When she’s not breaking or fixing thrusters, she’s usually embroidering, writing, or taking cursed pictures of her cat Pudge. You can find her on Instagram @its.lean or on the world wide web at leanne.space/.

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