A classic Tom Collins cocktail is one of those drinks that everyone would try “at least” once. Not only is it a bartender staple, it will also give you a good point of reference for countless other mixed drinks.
However, I should warn you, this is sometimes called a “manly” drink. And though I’m not a fan of the gender stereotype (because, hey, I like this drink) I think we all have a pretty clear idea what’s being implied here:
That this drink has some bite.
It’s not fruity or light (despite the lemon and sweeteners) and it is, more or less, designed to be a slightly-more-delicious vehicle for your favorite gin.
So if you’re a lover of gin, read on! This drink is a classic go-to for adding a dash more flavor to an old favorite.
What is a Tom Collins?
While the origins of this drink are still up for debate (it’s between England and America, sometime in the late 1800s) it typically means a “gin and sparkling lemonade” drink served in a collins glass.
What’s in a Tom Collins?
To make this classic, you’ll need four key ingredients:
- Lemon juice.
- A clear or white sweetener (typically sugar or simple syrup).
- Your favorite gin.
- Soda water.
How do you make Tom Collins?
Step 1 – Fill a cocktail shaker full of ice, then pour in the lemon juice, sweetener of your choice (I tend to prefer simple syrup), and gin.
Step 2 – Shake well!
Step 3 – Fill a tall, narrow glass full of ice, then pour in the contents of the cocktail shaker.
Step 4 – Top the glass off with soda water and garnish with a few lemon slices.
Step 5 – enjoy!
What kind of gin should you use?
I’m always hesitant to answer this type of question because people can be a bit picky about their alcohol. BUT, I also know a little guidance can go a long way, so here are a few gin options to get you started in a search for your favorite:
Tanqueray Ten Gin – Has a citrus finish.
Spring 44 Old Tom – The name says it all. Plus, it’s another with a hint of citrus.
Plymouth – A common classic.
How to measure this cocktail
This cocktail is written like a standard drink recipe, meaning that instead of an exact measurement (ex: 1 cup) the recipe will read “1 part.”
This can sometimes be a little confusing, but I’ve found the best way to think of it as this:
Recipes that measure in parts usually mean it’s written so that you can adjust the size of the drink to whatever you want and the measurements given (ex: 1 part, 1/2 part, etc) are so you can keep the ratio of the ingredients correct.
For example, let’s say you wanted to make one drink. This typically means you’re using 1 standard shot glass or jigger for measuring. So, when the recipe says “1 part”, you would interpret that amount as “1 standard shot glass” full. If the recipe says “1/2 part” you’d fill the shot glass halfway so that it’s “1/2 standard shot glass.” OR, let’s say you wanted to make enough drinks for a few friends in a single batch. When making the drink you could interpret “1 part” as “1 cup” (or “1/2 part” to “1/2 cup.”)
This way the drink will taste the same no matter what size you make it.
Notes & tips for this Tom Collins cocktail
- Like most mixed drinks, you’ll need a trusty cocktail shaker. I like to use a Mason Jar and Stainless Steel Cocktail Shaker Set that has a rustic look that’s fun for parties. If you already have a ton of mason jars and just need a cocktail shaker lid, you can pick up on here: Mason Jar Cocktail Shaker Lid.
- To get the look right, you’ll want to serve this drink in a tall, narrow glass. This highball glass set would be ideal.
More great drink recipes
This classic Tom Collins is the go-to drink for gin lovers that want to add a dash of citrus flavor to an old favorite. Sometimes called a "sparkling lemonade with gin," the ingredient list is so simple that most home bars can whip one up without a shopping trip.
In a cocktail shaker full of ice, add lemon juice, simple syrup, and gin. Shake well, about 20-30 seconds.
Fill a tall, narrow glass full of ice and pour in the contents from the cocktail shaker. Top off the glass with club soda.
Serve immediately with lemon slices as garnish (optional).