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Tom Collins

Build the gin, 1.5 teaspoons of the sugar, and the lemon juice in a Collins glass filled with big ice.  Stir to dissolve the sugar before topping with the soda.  Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of sugar and stir just once or twice.  Garnish with a long lemon peel.

Prep Time 1 minute
Servings 1
Category Collins
Tags 1840-1880 (Cocktails Arrive), Classic, Summer Drink
Proof 23.5
Strength 1.6 standard drinks
Glass Collins Glass
Temp Cold
Tom Collins
Tom Collins

Old Tom gin is historically accurate, but London Dry works fine, too.  

The Tom Collins has a long history but the recipes you find today for it are all over the map.  If you order a Tom Collins you may get sour mix, lime mix, lemonade, lemon-lime soda and maybe grenadine.  Gin is still de rigueur as the base spirit to use but the Vodka Collins has moved ahead in popularity.  

Let's go back to the beginning (as we often do on this site) when we find the Tom Collins started as the John Collins in England.  David Wondrich tells use that the John Collins was derived from a gin punch in the first part of the 19th Century.  This refreshing drink became popular with officers in the British army who spread the Collins around the British Empire (and hence a large chunk of the world).  Just substitute Holland gin for the Old Tom to make a John Collins.

By the mid 19th Century the Collins made it to the U.S. where it underwent a name change to a Tom Collins.  Refer to Wondrich's book for the story behind that.  Today a John Collins usually refers to an offshoot or variation.

Those British officers were using Old Tom gin as their base spirit.  Old Tom is a bit sweeter than the dry gin that this drink is made with today, so I have added the additional 1/2 teaspoon of sugar at the end of the recipe.  This last dash of sugar also helps to encourage the fizz in the drink.  If you use Old Tom back off to a total of 1.5 teaspoons of sugar.

A Tom Collins is built in the serving glass as opposed to Fizzes which are shaken.  The serving glass to use is named after this drink - the Collins glass.  Tall and large, the glass leaves enough room for the ice and soda while being narrow enough to conserve the bubbles in the soda (as in a Champagne flute).

Big ice is specified in the recipe so dilution is kept in check, especially in hot weather.  I use one inch ice cubes from a Tovolo Silicone Ice Cube Tray.  There is already a fair amount of soda in a Tom Collins so if your ice melts out too quickly it becomes a soggy affair.

Mineral water tastes good and Topo Chico should be your first choice as it has a lot of bubbles.  Otherwise a seltzer or club soda is fine as long as you squeeze the plastic bottle and it is a hard as a rock.  Whatever you use, make sure to chill it.  Otherwise, room temperature soda will melt your ice in no time.

Rating (Liquor & Drink)


Beefeater gin, fresh lemon juice, superfine sugar and club soda. 7/19/2012

Ingredient Profile

Drinks in the same category

Drinks served in the same glass