Tom Collins - A Summer Gin Series

Mar 12, 2014

If you loved the light lime taste of last week’s Gin Rickey, then the Tom Collins may very well end up becoming your go-to drink of the summer.  For starters, while the Gin Rickey is marked by its light essence of lime, a proper Tom Collins is best described as a playful version of lemonade; sweet and cooling, but never mistaken for anything but a gin based cocktail.

Along with having a strong lemon flavor, the Tom Collins has also been described as the drink that made America go “mad”.  That’s an odd way to describe a cocktail, but it’s unique history just may inspire you to be a bit mischievous at your next cocktail party.

The History: The Tom Collins cocktail traces its origin to the year 1874.  That summer, a mysterious man going by the name of Tom Collins was up to no good as he made his way around the Northeastern United States.  This single man seemed to know the dirt on everyone and he had zero qualms about heading to the local bar to tell everyone what he knew.

Luckily, it seemed like everyone had a good friend(s) who made sure to let the poor slandered friend know that Tom Collins was “around the corner talking about you.”  By the time the group made their way “around the corner,” the devilish Tom Collins was no where to be seen.  As the joke quickly became a staple of the summer, bartenders realized there was money to be made appeasing those being pranked by their friends.

The first documented recipe for the Tom Collins cocktail can be found in legendary mixologist Jerry Thomas’ The Bartender’s Guide in 1876.

How to make a Original Tom Collins Cocktail


  • A chilled highball glass
  • 5 or 6 dashes of gum syrup (use a 2:1 ratio simple syrup)
  • Juice of a small lemon
  • 2 oz of gin
  • Ice
  • A shaker and strainer set
  • Club soda
  • Slice of lemon or a maraschino cherry for garnishment


  1. Fill the shaker with ice, gin, simple syrup, and the lemon juice
  2. Fill the highball glass with ice
  3. Shake the shaker and strain the mixture into the highball glass while adding club soda
  4. Garnish the drink with either a lemon slice or maraschino cherry

- Brian David Joyner

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