The Great Tom Collins Recipe
- 1 1/2 cups ice
- 2 fluid ounces gin (We like Hendrick's)
- 3/4 fluid ounce lemon juice
- 1/2 fluid ounce simple syrup
- 1 cup ice
- 2 fluid ounces club soda
- 1 lemon wedge
How to Make a Tom Collins
- Fill a Collins glass with 1 1/2 cups ice. Combine gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker. Add 1 cup ice, cover and shake until chilled. Strain into the chilled Collins glass.
- Top off with club soda and garnish with a lemon wedge.
History of the Tom Collins
In August 1891, British physician Sir Morell Mackenzie wrote an article in the influential 19th century magazine Fortnightly Review claiming that England was the originating country for the Tom Collins cocktail and a person named John Collins was its creator. In the article, Mackenzie quoted an old song, the title of which he indicated to be "John Collins." However, the British weekly magazine Punch immediately disparaged Mackenzie's efforts, noting in August 1891 that the title of the song actually was "Jim Collins" and that Mackenzie otherwise inaccurately quoted and characterized the song.
A drink called a John Collins did exist prior to the Tom Collins hoax of 1874. A recipe for it appears in the Steward and Barkeeper's Manual of 1869. Cocktail historian David Wondrich stated that there are several other earlier mentions of this version of the drink and that it does bear a striking resemblance to the gin punches served at London clubs like the Garrick in the first half of the 19th century.
Confusion over the cocktail's origins continued as American writer Charles Montgomery Skinner noted in 1898 that the Tom Collins had made its way to the "American Bars" in England, France, and Germany, where the American invention stimulated curiosity in Europe and served as a reflection of American art.
As time passed, interest in the Tom Collins diminished and its origins became lost. Early on during the 1920s Prohibition in the United States, the American journalist and student of American English H. L. Mencken said:
The origin of the Tom-Collins remains to be established; the historians of alcoholism, like the philologists, have neglected them. But the essentially American character of [this and other drinks] is obvious, despite the fact that a number have gone over into English. The English, in naming their drinks, commonly display a far more limited imagination. Seeking a name, for example, for a mixture of whiskey and soda- water, the best they could achieve was whiskey-and-soda. The Americans, introduced to the same drink, at once gave it the far more original name of high-ball.