According to The Gin Foundry, the first recorded recipe for a Tom Collins is from the second edition of “The Bartenders Guide”, a 1976 cocktail recipe book written by Jeremiah Thomas, a New York bartender who owned and operated a number of city’s saloons. Thomas is widely credited for popularizing cocktails across the U.S., and has been dubbed “the father of American mixology”. In this guide the Tom Collins is a class of drink, not the specific gin cocktail it is today. At that time the Tom Collins could be made with (what is now considered the classic) gin, brandy or whiskey.
But what about the name? Well, the story goes that Tom Collins was an extremely loud and obstinate man who was well known to sit in taverns and gossip about anybody and everybody he had (and had not) met. And when those he had been talking ill of caught wind of his gossip they went to the tavern to find and confront him. Alas, Tom Collins did not exist. So, when they asked for him at the bar, they instead received a sour cocktail made of lemon juice, gum syrup and the spirit of your choice. Eventually gum syrup was replaced with cane sugar and Old Tom gin, a slightly sweeter gin popular at the time, became the spirit of choice.
- 50ml gin (Bombay Dry)
- 25ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 12.5ml sugar syrup (Monin)
- Soda water
- Before starting on this cocktail, chill a tall glass in the freezer.
- Add the gin, lemon juice and syrup to a cocktail shaker
- Half fill the shaker with ice and shake until the outside of the shaker becomes very cold to the touch.
- Fill the chilled glass with ice
- Strain the liquid into the glass
- Top with soda water
- Garnish with a twirl of lemon peel
Note: This is a simple 2 : 1 : 1/2 cocktail recipe, and whilst 25ml of lemon juice (approximately half a lemon, but it’s always best to use measure if you have one) is the correct volume of lemon juice for this recipe, depending on the freshness of the lemons, or the time of your, you may need more than 25ml. This can always be added to taste at the end.