Classic Tom Collins co*cktail Recipe | (2024)

This is a refreshing co*cktail that tastes like sparkling lemonade, with a gin kick. The origins of the Tom Collins are a bit muddy. Prior to the drink there was another drink called the "John Collins" which used bourbon along with lemon juice, sugar, and club soda. It's speculated that the name morphed into "Tom Collins" from using Old Tom Gin instead.

2 ounces gin
1 ounce lemon juice
1 teaspoon superfine sugar
2 ounces club soda
1 cherry
1 slice lemon

What is the origin of the Tom Collins?

The Tom Collins co*cktail is steeped in interesting history. Its origins are closely associated with a practical joke that swept through New York and Pennsylvania in 1874, known as The Great Tom Collins Hoax of 1874. As part of the joke, people would tell their friends that a man named Tom Collins was at a local bar, speaking ill of them. When the subject of the hoax rushed to confront this mysterious man, they found no one by that name.

It's widely believed that the name of co*cktail was born out of this prank. Bartenders, capitalizing on the notoriety of the hoax, created a gin-based co*cktail and named it Tom Collins. The original Tom Collins was made with Old Tom Gin (a slightly sweetened gin), lemon juice, sugar, and carbonated water. This recipe was first documented by Jerry Thomas, a famous American bartender, in the 1876 edition of his book, "The Bartender’s Guide". It's claimed that this recipe was originally based on the "John Collins" which used bourbon but the hoax morphed it into the Tom Collins with the addition of the Old Tom Gin.

As the drink gained popularity, it has maintained its classic recipe but has also been adapted with variations of ingredients and styles. The Tom Collins is now considered a traditional and iconic gin co*cktail. Despite its playful origins, it's respected for its balanced and refreshing taste.

What kind of gin works best in this co*cktail?

The traditional gin used in a Tom Collins is Old Tom Gin, which is a slightly sweeter style of gin. However, the co*cktail is quite versatile and can work well with other types of gin, depending on personal preference.

Old Tom Gin: This gin style is traditionally used in a Tom Collins. It's slightly sweet and less botanical, which adds a distinct flavor to the co*cktail.

London Dry Gin: This is a more common type of gin and is known for its bold, juniper-forward flavor. If you prefer a more robust gin flavor in your co*cktail, London Dry Gin is a good choice.

Plymouth Gin: This gin style is a bit milder and fruitier compared to London Dry. It makes a more subtly flavored Tom Collins.

American or New Western Gin: These gins play down the juniper flavor and highlight other botanicals. If you prefer a modern twist on your Tom Collins, this type of gin could provide that.

The co*cktail is simple and showcases the flavor of the gin, so choose a gin that you enjoy drinking on its own.

Can I use bottled lemon juice instead of fresh?

While you technically can use bottled lemon juice in a Tom Collins co*cktail, it's generally recommended to use fresh lemon juice for the best flavor.

Bottled lemon juice often contains preservatives and has a more processed, less natural flavor than fresh lemon juice. It might also lack the brightness and acidity of fresh lemon juice.

If fresh lemons aren't available, bottled lemon juice can serve as a substitute in a pinch. However, for the best-tasting Tom Collins, fresh lemon juice is the way to go. If you're preparing this co*cktail for guests or a special occasion, it's worth the extra effort to squeeze fresh lemons.

Keep in mind, too, that fresh lemon juice not only affects the flavor of your co*cktail, but it can also impact the aroma, enhancing the overall co*cktail experience.

Can I substitute lime for lemon in the recipe?

Yes, you can substitute lime for lemon in a Tom Collins recipe, but it will change the flavor of the co*cktail.

Lemons and limes, although both citrus fruits, have distinct flavors. Lemons have a bright, tart flavor with a hint of sweetness, while limes have a slightly more bitter, sharp citrus flavor.

Substituting lime for lemon will give your Tom Collins a different taste, potentially adding a more tart and complex edge to the co*cktail. This could be a nice variation if you're looking for a twist on the traditional Tom Collins, but if you're aiming for the classic flavor, it's best to stick with lemon.

Can I use regular granulated sugar instead of superfine sugar?

Regular granulated sugar doesn't dissolve as well in cold liquids as superfine sugar does. You can use it but you may wish to muddle it with a little lemon juice first to form a paste that is easier to dissolve.

What type of glass should a Tom Collins be served in?

A Tom Collins co*cktail is traditionally served in a Collins glass, hence the name of the drink.

A Collins glass is a type of tumbler that is cylindrical in shape, taller than an Old Fashioned glass and narrower than a highball glass. It typically holds 10 to 14 ounces. The tall shape of the Collins glass is perfect for drinks that are served on the rocks and mixed with a large amount of non-alcoholic mixer, like the Tom Collins.

Serving a Tom Collins in a Collins glass allows plenty of room for ice, gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, and the club soda topper, all while maintaining the proper proportions of the drink. It also showcases the effervescence and clarity of the drink, and provides ample space for garnish.

If a Collins glass is not available, a highball glass is a suitable alternative. While it's wider than a Collins glass, it's similar in height, allowing for a similar balance of co*cktail ingredients and soda water.

Can I make a non-alcoholic version?

There are several non-alcoholic spirits on the market that could be used in a non-alcoholic Tom Collins. Here are a few options:

Seedlip Garden 108: This is a distilled non-alcoholic spirit that features a mix of peas, hay, spearmint, rosemary, and thyme. The herbal profile of this spirit works well with the fresh lemon in a Tom Collins.

Ritual Zero Proof Gin Alternative: This non-alcoholic gin alternative has botanical flavors of juniper, angelica root, and cucumber, making it a great replacement in a Tom Collins.

Monday Gin: Another gin alternative, Monday Gin is a non-alcoholic spirit that mimics the flavors of traditional gin with botanicals like juniper, coriander, and citrus peel.

Lyre's London Dry Spirit: Lyre's offers a wide range of non-alcoholic spirits, and their London Dry Spirit mimics the flavor of a classic London Dry Gin with juniper and citrus flavors.

Surendran & Bownes Edition Zero: Verum: This alcohol-free distillate has a base of juniper, coriander, angelica, and orris, similar to a classic gin.

While these options can substitute the gin in a Tom Collins, it's important to remember that they may not taste exactly like traditional gin. Non-alcoholic spirits often have their own unique flavors, so taste as you go and adjust the other ingredients in your mocktail as needed to balance the flavors.

Alternately, you can simply omit the gin and replace it with additional club soda for a simple mocktail.

What are some variations on the classic Tom Collins?

Here are some ideas to change up the traditional recipe:

Vodka Collins: Replace the gin with vodka for a slightly different flavor profile.

John Collins: This is actually the original version of the co*cktail and uses bourbon instead of gin.

Rum Collins: Substitute the gin with light rum. This version might make you feel like you're on a tropical vacation.

Tequila Collins (also known as a Juan Collins): Replace gin with tequila and add a splash of orange juice for a citrusy twist.

Elderflower Collins: Add a splash of elderflower liqueur (like St. Germain) or elderflower cordial to the traditional recipe for a floral spin on the classic.

Peach Collins: Add a few slices of fresh peach to the glass and muddle them with the lemon juice and sugar, then add gin and top with club soda.

Raspberry Collins: Muddle fresh raspberries at the bottom of the glass before adding the rest of the ingredients.

Cucumber Collins: Muddle fresh cucumber slices with the lemon and sugar before adding your gin and club soda. This version is especially refreshing.

Can I make a large batch of Tom Collins ahead of time for a party?

You can partially prepare a Tom Collins in advance, but there are a few components you'll want to add just before serving to make for the best flavor and freshness.

Combine the gin, lemon juice, and sugar in a pitcher. Stir to combine and then cover and refrigerate until you're ready to serve. This can be done several hours in advance.

When ready to serve the drinks, fill individual Collins (or highball) glasses with ice. Pour the pre-mixed co*cktail over the ice, filling each glass about two-thirds of the way. Top each glass with club soda. Garnish each co*cktail with a slice of lemon and a maraschino cherry.

The reason you don't want to add the club soda in advance is that it will lose its fizz over time. The ice is also best added just before serving to avoid watering down the co*cktail.

Nutritional data has not been calculated yet.

Classic Tom Collins co*cktail Recipe | (2024)
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