If you’re all about lemonade-lookalike tall drinks, the Tom Collins is for you. This beauty is not only refreshing and fizzy, but an authentic historical cocktail — It’s one of the oldest in the books.
The Tom Collins is one of those drinks you can order anywhere in the world, and it’s always good. You can make it at home too; the recipe calls for some gin and few other ordinary ingredients. The result, though, is everything but ordinary. Here’s all about the famous drink, including a proper recipe for a Tom Collins.
History of the Tom Collins Cocktail
The father of American mixology, Jerry Thomas, already mentioned the Tom Collins in his cocktail guide in 1876, and although the drink is straightforward, basically gin lemonade, its name has an odd origin.
Legend says a common 1900s bar hoax consisted of teasing someone saying a mysterious Tom Collins was talking behind their back. Since there was no Tom Collins, that led to confusion. Why was that funny, we don’t know, but chances are it was part of some kind of scam? The thing is, everyone in America suddenly knew about Tom Collins — so why is the cocktail called that way? Perhaps we’ll never know.
The combination of a hard spirit, citrus, sugar and soda is one of the foundational mother recipes in cocktail mixing. There are many cocktails based in this formula, and it has remained unaltered for centuries for a reason, it works very well!
We know the Tom Collins cocktail was initially made with Old Tom Gin, a type of gin popular in 18-century England. It was sweeter than the London Dry Gin we drink today, and it was served to people through clandestine holes (literal holes in the wall) marked with a cat or Old Tom.
The Tom Collins also calls for lemon juice, which adds vibrancy to the tall drink, just like in lemonade, and simple syrup to bring it all together. The rest is soda or sparkling water, but the result is greater than the sum of its parts; it’s just thirst-quenching delicious!
Variations and Substitutions
Add a splash of grenadine to add a pink hue to your drink. You can also throw in there a few raspberries, blackberries or blueberries for color and flavor.
Adding everything from mint leaves to cucumber slices can make any Tom Collins nicer looking and tastier, and the sky’s the limit. Experiment with any fruits and herbs.
Then you have the classic Collins variations. A Vodka Collins has vodka instead of gin, a Juan Collins calls for tequila, and the John Collins is made with bourbon. There are endless possibilities here.
Tom Collins Recipe
- Highball glass
- 2 ounces London dry gin
- 1 ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 1/2-ounce simple syrup
- Club soda to top
- Lemon wheel and cherry for garnish
- Fill the highball glass with fresh ice, pour the gin, lemon juice and simple syrup.
- Top with soda and stir gently.
- Garnish with the lemon wheel and cherry.