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How to Make a Tom Collins

A classic since cocktails began, the Tom Collins has always been popular with its simple ingredients of gin, citrus, sugar and bubbles. Anyone can make this cocktail!

Tom Collins

Where was the Tom Collins born?

Who is Tom Collins and why does he have a cocktail named after him? Well, it all started with a bit of a practical joke. A friend of yours would walk into a bar, and you would ask them if they knew Tom Collins. He said no he didn’t know him.

Tom Collins

You would tell him that he was badmouthing your friend at a the last bar and then your friend would run into the other bar looking for this Tom Collins. Of course, there would be no one there by that name! A bartender in New York felt sorry for all these chumps and offered them a cocktail or two. Thus, the Tom Collins cocktail was launched!

Another story is that, around the 1810’s, a John Collins, from Limmer’s Old House in London, became attached to the cocktail and it morphed into Tom. Or it could be because it was a cocktail made with Old Tom Gin.

We are sure that the man himself, the father of the bartending, “Professor” Jerry Thomas, the author of one of the first cocktail recipe books, included it in his Bon Vivant’s Companion, published in 1877!

What is the Tom Collins


A Collins cocktail (John, Tom, Whiskey, Rum) is originally Old Tom Gin, lemon and sugar, topped up with soda water and served in a Highball glass with ice. Still you can use any style gin you wish. A bit of shaking is required!

What is Old Tom Gin

Not to confuse you but in the olden days there was Holland Gin (unsweetened and more like gin today) and Old Tom Gin (sweetened)! As modern gin was inspired by the Dutch Genever, it because known as Holland Gin.

Old Tom Gin was the rage in 17th C Britain. Its name came from the wood signs attached to the outside wall of the gin joint usually shaped like a black cat, known as Old Tom. It’s become very trendy and you can find a number of Old Tom Gins on the market now!

How to make the Tom Collins


You need to start with the following ingredients to make the Gin Fizz:

  • Gin (I am using Porter’s Tropical Old Tom Gin)
  • Lemon Juice
  • Sugar Syrup 
  • Soda water
Squeezing a lemon into a Tom Collins

Fresh ingredients are so important – so please, please, please use fresh lemon juice! I love this lemon squeezer which has holes on the bottom that fit right over the jigger, making it super easy to get the perfect amount of lime.

  • Squeeze about one lemon to make 1 oz (30ml) of Lemon Juice into a jigger and add to the shaker
Sugar Syrup for the Tom Collins

I make my own sugar syrup. It takes about 2 minutes. Just measure out half of a cup (100ml) of white sugar into a pot and add the same amount of water. Heat until dissolved, let it cool, then pour into a glass container. It can keep in the fridge for months.

  • Add 1 oz (30ml) of sugar syrup to the shaker.

Always add in the spirit last. Just in case you made a mistake, you don’t want to waste any of that precious liquid. I always promote the use of the best spirits on the market. Don’t skimp! Invest in a good spirit and your cocktail will always be so much better.

Gin for the Tom Collins

Always add in the spirit last. Just in case you made a mistake, you don’t want to waste any of that precious liquid. I always promote the use of the best spirits on the market. Don’t skimp! Invest in a good spirit and your cocktail will always be so much better.

  • Finally add in 2 oz (50 or 60 ml) of gin!!
Straining the Tom Collins into the glass

Next fill the shaker with ice. Make sure your ice is fresh, since it can absorb the odors in your freezer. You don’t want your cocktail tasting like your leftovers!

  • Now shake. shake, shake!
  • Strain it into a glass and top it up with soda water. 
Tom Collins - Pinterest 3

Here is the recipe!

If you want to try another Gin cocktail, don’t miss:

Tom Collins

Tom Collins

The Tom Collins is a classic cocktail made with gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, and soda water, typically served over ice and garnished with a lemon slice and a cherry. It offers a refreshing and citrusy beverage experience.
No ratings yet
Cook Time 7 minutes
Total Time 7 minutes
Course Cocktails
Cuisine British
Servings 1
Calories 213 kcal


  • 2 oz Old Tom Gin
  • 1 oz Simple Syrup
  • 1 oz Lemon Juice
  • Soda Water
  • Garnish: Lemon wedge and cherry


  • Put the gin, syrup and lemon juice into a shaker
  • Add ice, then shake, shake, shake
  • Strain into a Highball Glass with ice
  • Top with Soda Water.
  • Garnish with a lemon wedge and a cherry


Serving: 1gCalories: 213kcalCarbohydrates: 24gProtein: 1gSodium: 41mgFiber: 3gSugar: 17g
Keyword tom collins
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Top Tip(ples): If you want to try another gin classic, don’t miss the Gin Fizz, the Gimlet, or the French 75!


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