This summer, keep yourself relaxed and refreshed with a Tom Collins! It’s a classic cocktail that’s created with a simple, delicious mixture of freshly squeezed lemon juice, aromatic gin, sweet simple syrup, and a splash of bubbly club soda.
This classic, crisp cocktail is delightfully reminiscent of lemonade. If you’re a fan of tart, slightly sweet, and vibrant cocktails with touch of bubbles, this is the drink for you! It’s a summertime staple, especially when the heat of the day has you craving something fruity, but not too sweet.
It’s the perfect drink for sipping on in the sun with just the right amount of sweetness paired with tart lemon flavor and a splash of bubbly club soda.
Of course, what perfectly rounds this cocktail together is the aromatic gin. It’s potent enough for anyone who loves gin, but it is also not overwhelmingly bold.
Since you’re making this at home, feel free to play around with adding some other flavors! Check out some suggestions below.
What is the origin of the Tom Collins cocktail?
Just like with most classic cocktails that we’ve been enjoying for over 100 years, there is a debate over the exact origins. The origins of this cocktail go back to Britain in the late 1800’s. Some stories suggest an old prank that circulated around the bars called “Tom Collins.” People who played into this prank ended up looking for a person at a bar, asked the bartender for a “Tom Collins,” and received a sour drink instead.
Another, and more likely origin story, is that this cocktail is very similar to the popular gin cocktail that used Old Tom Gin. This cocktail was originally referred to as a John Collins. John Collins was a head waiter or a bartender in a popular hotel in Britain, he was the one who had the gin punch named after him. Later, the cocktail was renamed to Tom Collins because of the use of the Old Tom Gin.
How to Make a Tom Collins
Equipment You’ll Need:
- Glass – To best serve a Tom Collins, you’ll need a tall Collins glass, or something similar. It’s similar to a highball glass, but it’s taller and more narrow.
- Lemon Press – If you don’t have this, you can simply squeeze the lemons by hand. However, the lemon press is encouraged to use if you do have it, as you tend to get more juice and less of a mess that way.
- Jigger – If you don’t have one of these handy, a shot glass will get the job done.
- Bar Spoon – The length of a bar spoon is ideal for stirring all of the ingredients in a tall Collins glass, as it can reach all the way to the bottom.
Ingredients You’ll Need:
- Gin – Use a good quality gin, preferably one you already know that you like. The flavor and aroma here are fairly pronounced, so you’ll want to enjoy them!
- Lemon Juice – Freshly squeezed lemon juice is the only kind that should be used in a Tom Collins. Do NOT use bottled lemon juice, it never tastes as good as fresh, no matter what the bottle says!
- Simple Syrup – To make your own simple syrup, combine 1 cup of sugar with 1 cup of hot water. Stir it until the sugar is fully dissolved, then store it in an airtight bottle in the refrigerator.
- Club Soda – Any brand will do the trick. Seltzer also works well here.
- Garnishes – The most classic garnishes for a Tom Collins are fresh lemon slices and cocktail cherries.
Add the ingredients.
Place the lemon juice, simple syrup, and gin in a tall Collins glass.
Using your bar spoon, stir the ingredients together for about 20 seconds.
Add some ice and slowly pour the club soda into the glass. Give the drink a gentle stir with the bar spoon to incorporate the club soda without getting rid of all of the bubbles.
Top your freshly made Tom Collins off with a lemon slice and cocktail cherries. Enjoy!
Frequently Asked Questions
What other flavors can I add?
Here are just a few fresh and fun flavors that you can add to your classic Tom Collins.
- Blackberry – Muddle some blackberries in the glass before adding the other ingredients. You can even add a little mint, honey, or a lime with the berries.
- Raspberry or Strawberry – Instead of blackberries, you can muddle raspberries or strawberries.
- Mint – Mint is great here, especially when muddled with the fresh berries.
- Honey – Substitute honey instead of simple syrup if you wish. For the best flavor, use an organic local honey.
- Lavender – Lavender simple syrup can make the cocktail taste like a lavender lemonade. Plus, it lends a soft purple color that’s very pretty.
Can I make it ahead of time?
Due to the bubbly nature of the Tom Collins, they’re best when stirred up and enjoyed immediately. You don’t want it to all go flat before you can enjoy a sip.
Tom Collins Cocktail Recipe
- tall Collins (or a similar) glass
- lemon press
- Bar spoon
- 3 oz gin
- 1 oz fresh lemon juice
- 1 oz simple syrup
- 3-4 oz club soda
- lemon slice and cocktail cherries to garnish
- Add lemon juice, simple syrup, and gin to the tall Collins glass.
- Use a bar spoon to stir and mix for about 20 seconds.
- Add ice and slowly add club soda and give it another gentle stir.
- Garnish with a lemon slice, cocktail cherries, and enjoy!