Tom Collins Cocktail

Tom Collins

By Sina Torner / Last updated on May 14, 2022

First published on May 6, 2022 

The Tom Collins is a classic and refreshing cocktail made of Gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, and club soda. The drink usually comes in a Collins glass and is garnished with a lemon peel and a maraschino cherry.

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 a bit blurry and confusing. 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.

And regardless of whether the guy had in fact invented the drink or not, it then 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 often was Old Tom.

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. 

But in our case, we want to make a Tom Collins with an Old Tom Gin. And if you want to read more on the topic, read this more detailed account of how the John Collins and the Tom Collins compare today. 

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. 

Tom Collins Cocktail

Tom Collins

A refreshing, sour cocktail made with Old Tom Gin, lemon, syrup, and soda.
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: British
Keyword: Gin
Servings: 1
Calories: 199kcal
Cost: $2.70



  • 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.


Serving: 5oz | Calories: 199kcal | Carbohydrates: 39.25g | Protein: 0.3g | Fat: 0.2g | Sodium: 42.25mg | Potassium: 186.25mg | Sugar: 35.38g | Vitamin C: 29.25mg | Calcium: 63mg | Iron: 0.13mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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