The Tom Collins cocktail is a true Gin classic. Its composition of Old Tom Gin, soda water, lemon, and sugar strongly reminds one of the Gin Fizz and even stronger of the John Collins. While the first one adds egg white to the mix, the second just uses a different type of Gin.
History of the Tom Collins Cocktail
The story behind the cocktail based on Old Tom Gin is - as often for cocktails from the 19. century- a bit blurry and confusing. Especially thanks to the John Collins drink, which, at first glance, seems to be the same cocktail. But from the beginning:
Probably the mix of Gin, lemon, sugar, and soda had been around for quite some time before a barkeeper named John Collins claimed it for himself in London in the 1810s. Now, regardless of whether the guy had in fact invented the drink or not, it once was called John Collins.
Over time, however, people began referring to the drink as Tom Collins rather than John Collins. That was because the type of Gin used for the cocktail at the time often was Old Tom because it was widely available.
This new name manifested itself further when American bartender Harry Johnson included it in his Bartender’s Manual in 1882.
To make the confusion even worse, people started calling the drink Tom Collins when it was made with Old Tom Gin and John Collins when it was made with a different type of Gin. And even today, there are different opinions on how to refer to the cocktail correctly. If you want to read more on the topic, read out full comparison of the John Collins and the Tom Collins.
What is an Old Tom Gin?
Old Tom Gin has been popular in England in the 18th and the 19th century. Of course, it is no coincidence that this is just the same time as the Tom Collins had surfaced.
The Gin itself is not as dry as London Dry but not as sweet as Dutch Genever. Some describe it as the missing link between the two.
However, there is no official definition, and also, no legal requirements must be met to call a Gin Old Tom. -Only, it must contain Juniper, but that goes for Gin in general.
The name Old Tom supposedly goes back to wooden plaques in the shape of a black cat. In the 1800s, these plaques were mounted on the wall of pubs to signal that you could get affordable Gin there in times when the British government tried to limit consumption with prohibitive taxes.
If you want to buy an Old Tom Gin and need a recommendation, try the Haymans's or Portobello Old Tom Gin.
What are Collins Cocktails
Collins cocktails are sour cocktails made with a base spirit, lemon juice, carbonated water, and sugar. Initially, the only two members of this family were Tom and John, but they are in good company now. There is, for instance, a Joe, a Mike, a Pierre, a Pepito, and many more.
The base spirit usually is Gin. Yet, the newer members base on Whiskey, Vodka, Rum, and even Tequila.
Collins Cocktails even have their own glassware named after them. The typical Collins glass is a cylindrical tumbler that will hold between 10 to 14 oz. It is longer and more narrow than a standard highball glass.
- 1 Collins glass
- 1 Cocktail Shaker
- 1 Jigger
- 1 Hawthorne Strainer
- 2 oz Old Tom Gin
- 0.75 oz Freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 0.5 oz Simple syrup
- 1.5 oz Chilled soda water
- 1 lemon peel
- 1 Maraschino cherry
- Add Gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup into your cocktail shaker together with a cup of ice.
- Shake until the shaker feels ice cold and strain the contents over ice into a Collins glass.
- Top your drink with ice-cold soda water and garnish with citrus peel and a Maraschino cherry.