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Tom Collins Recipe | Wine Enthusiast

Tom Collins Recipe | Wine Enthusiast

We all love buzzy cocktails with attention-grabbing names and eye-popping colors. Just look at The Grinch, Tokyo Tea and the Green Tea Shot, for instance. Each one of these neon-hued sippers garnered millions of views on TikTok.

But there’s something to be said about the unassuming classics, like the Tom Collins. It may not have the flash and pizzazz of some internet-famous drinks, but there’s a reason it’s endured for around 150 years. After you make this recipe, you’ll see why.

What Is a Tom Collins Cocktail?

The Tom Collins is a cocktail that incorporates gin, fresh-squeezed lemon juice, and simple syrup, all topped with club soda. It’s usually served in a Collins glass, which is tall and skinny.

Where Did the Tom Collins Cocktail Come From?

The Tom Collins appears in the bartending book, Bon Vivant’s Companion by “Professor” Jerry Thomas in 1877. But it’s very likely that it was created even earlier.

According to The Oxford Companion to Spirits & Cocktails, the drink, originally called the John Collins, was first created by a London bartender of the same name. The cocktail made its way to the United States in the 1860s, where it still bore the same name.

But then came “The Great Tom Collins Hoax” of 1874. Legend has it that a prankster told a friend they had run into “Tom Collins” at a bar around the corner and he said some pretty awful things about said friend. That friend would then leave to find this trash talking “Tom Collins.” Of course, this was just a fruitless wild goose chase. It was around this time the drink started to be called the Tom Collins. Also of note, at the time, it was made with Old Tom gin, which likely helped facilitate the name change, too.

How to Make a Tom Collins Cocktail

Recipe by Jacy Topps


2 ounces London dry gin

1 ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed

½ ounce simple syrup

Club soda, to top

Lemon wheel, for garnish


Fill a Collins glass with ice. Add the gin, lemon juice and simple syrup to the glass. Top with club soda and stir. Garnish with a lemon wheel.


What Does a Tom Collins Taste Like?

This refreshing drink tastes like a boozy sparkling lemonade. The lemon juice adds a citrus flavor that balances the herbal notes of the dry gin. You can adjust the sweetness of the cocktail by adding more or less simple syrup, but the traditional recipe is not overly sweet.

Are There Other Variations of the Tom Collins?

The classic drink belongs to the Collins family of mixed concoctions, all sour cocktails that incorporate a base spirit, lemon juice, sugar and carbonated water. For vodka enthusiasts, there’s the Joe Collins, while there’s the John Collins cocktail is for whiskey lovers.

What Glass Is a Tom Collins Served In?

The Tom Collins is served in a Collins glass, which is named after the gin-based drink. It’s a tall tumbler that holds about 10-12 ounces of liquid, depending on the producer. Sometimes a Collins glass is used interchangeably with a highball glass, but there are a couple of differences between the two. The Collins glass is usually taller and larger in diameter, which is perfect to keep the fizz in the cocktail. A highball glass, meanwhile, usually holds about 8-9 ounces and is more slender than a Collins glass.

Published on May 25, 2023

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