This drink isn’t named after a particular person; the Tom Collins gets its “last name” from the Collins style of cocktail — gin and sparkling lemonade — and Collins also refers to the glass, which is skinnier and taller than a highball. If you’ve ever been served a drink at a bar and thought, “This is a smaller portion than usual,” it’s likely a Collins glass.
The Tom part of the drink’s name probably comes from the preferred use of Old Tom gin. There’s also a John Collins that involves Holland-style gin instead (or bourbon, in some recipes), a Summer Collins that has just gin and lemonade (no effervescence), and Vodka and Rum Collinses that also switch out the category of alcohol.
Historically, according to The New York Times, the drink is built in the glass it’s served in — but it also contains fresh fruit juice, “which usually dictates” a shake in a cocktail tin (like I did). No matter which way you combine it, though, the Tom Collins is super refreshing on a hot afternoon.
- 2 ounces gin
- 1 ounce simple syrup
- ¾ ounce lemon juice
- Soda water
- Shake gin, syrup and juice with ice until chilled, about 15 seconds.
- Strain into an ice-filled highball glass and top with soda water.
- Garnish with a lemon twist and a cherry.