A Well-Stocked Bar: The Tom Collins Cocktail Recipe & History


If you are familiar with classic cocktails, you most likely have had a Tom Collins (or two!) in your lifetime. This tasty drink has been around for 150 years, and it certainly lives up to its reputation. And, out of many of the staple drinks that are still served today, the Tom Collins has by far one of the most interesting backgrounds. Read on to learn exactly how it came to be so famous.

History of the Tom Collins

A fact that many people aren’t aware of is that the Tom Collins was originally called the John Collins. It is believed that this name was inspired by a headwaiter that worked in a popular hotel in England at the time. Frank and Charles Sheridan wrote a rhyme about John Collins that goes like this:

My name is John Collins, head waiter at Limmer’s,

Corner of Conduit Street, Hanover Square,

My chief occupation is filling brimmers

For all the young gentlemen frequenters there.

The original recipe for this drink was eventually introduced to New York City in the 1850s, and it became quite popular. It specifically called for the use of Old Tom gin, and that is most likely why the name eventually changed from John Collins to Tom Collins. Although the recipe has evolved over time, it still contains the two main original ingredients: gin and lemon juice.

Here’s how to make your very own Tom Collins in the comfort of your own home.

The Classic Tom Collins Recipe


  •      3 parts Old Tom gin
  •      2 parts freshly squeezed lemon juice
  •      1 part sugar syrup
  •      4 parts carbonated soda water

To prepare, mix the gin, lemon juice, and sugar syrup together in a Collins glass with ice. Then, top off the drink with the soda water, and garnish with either a maraschino cherry or a slice of lemon and enjoy!


It should come as no surprise that a drink as famous as this has many different variations. There is the Brandy Collins that uses cognac instead of gin. There is the Jose Collins that uses tequila, which is a personal favorite of mine. The Jake Collins uses pineapple juice instead of lemon juice, and the Ron Collins uses rum instead of gin. The Sandy Collins uses scotch, and the Russell Collins contains Jagermeister.

In fact, the Tom Collins may win the award of the drink with the most variations.


What is your favorite Tom Collins variation? Make sure to let us know below!

About the author

Brooke Demchuk

Brooke is a freelance writer and full time student who specializes in coffee consumption and the art of procrastination. She sat down to figure out a life plan one day, but instead decided that she'd do that sometime later. When she's not in her college's library or hiding behind her laptop at hipster coffee shops, she enjoys ruining DIY Pinterest projects, looking at photos of French Bulldogs, and getting lost in downtown Washington, DC.

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