Tom Collins

Tom Collins
IBA Official Cocktail
Type Mixed drink
Primary alcohol by volume
Served On the rocks; poured over ice
Standard garnish

orange, cherry, or lime

Standard drinkware
Collins Glass.gif
Collins glass
IBA specified ingredients*
Preparation Mix the gin, lemon juice and sugar syrup in a tall glass with ice, top up with soda water, garnish and serve.

The Tom Collins is a type of Collins cocktail made from gin, lemon juice, sugar and carbonated water. First memorialized in writing in 1876 by "the father of American mixology" Jerry Thomas, this "Gin and Sparkling Lemonade" drink typically is served in a Collins glass over ice.



In 1874, people in New York, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere in the United States would start a conversation with "Have you seen Tom Collins?"[1][2] After the listener predictably reacts by explaining that they did not know a Tom Collins, the speaker would assert that Tom Collins was talking about the listener to others and that Tom Collins was "just around the corner", "in a [local] bar," or somewhere else near.[1] The conversation about the nonexistent Tom Collins was a proven hoax of exposure.[1] In The Great Tom Collins hoax of 1874, as it became known, the speaker would encourage the listener to act foolishly by reacting to patent nonsense that the hoaxer deliberately presents as reality.[1] In particular, the speaker desired the listener to become agitated at the idea of someone talking about them to others such that the listener would rush off to find the purportedly nearby Tom Collins.[1] Similar to The New York Zoo hoax of 1874, several newspapers propagated the very successful practical joke by printing stories containing false sightings of Tom Collins.[1] The 1874 hoax quickly gained such notoriety that several 1874 music hall songs memorialized the event (copies of which now are in the U.S. Library of Congress).[1][3]

The first recipe

"The father of American mixology," Jerry Thomas

The recipe for the Tom Collins first appeared in the 1876 edition of Jerry Thomas' "The Bartender's Guide".[1][4] Since New York based Thomas would have known about the wide spread hoax and the contents of the 1876 published book were developed during or right after The Great Tom Collins hoax of 1874, the hoax event is the most plausible source of the name for the Tom Collins cocktail.[1][4] Classified under the heading "Collins" with similarly named whisky and brandy drinks,[5] Jerry Thomas' Tom Collins Gin instructed:

Jerry Thomas' Tom Collins Gin (1876)
(Use large bar-glass.)
Take 5 or 6 dashes of gum syrup.
Juice of a small lemon.
1 large wine-glass of gin.
2 or 3 lumps of ice;
Shake up well and strain into a large bar-glass. Fill up the glass with plain soda water and drink while it is lively.[1]

This was distinguished from the Gin Fizz cocktail in that the 3 dashes of lemon juice in the Gin Fizz was "fizzed" with carbonated water to essentially form a 'Gin and Sodawater' whereas the considerably more "juice of a small lemon" in the Tom Collins essentially formed a 'Gin and Sparkling Lemonade' when sweetened with the gum syrup.[1] The type of gin used by Thomas was not specified in his 1876 book, but likely was Holland gin rather than English London Dry Gin since Jerry Thomas' Gin Fizz (1862) called for Holland gin and Hollands Gin (Jenever) was imported into the United States at that time at a ratio of approximately 6 liters to every liter of English London Dry Gin.[1]


By 1878, the Tom Collins was being served in the bar rooms of New York City and elsewhere.[6] Identified as 'a favorite drink in demand everywhere' in the 1878 edition of The Modern Bartender's Guide by O. H. Byron, both Tom Collins gin and whiskey and Tom Collins brandy were considered fancy drinks.[6] In 1891, the emulsifying sweetener, gum syrup, was replaced in the recipe by sugar and the use of Old Tom gin, a lightly sweetened Gin popular in 18th-century England. In the 1891 book, The Flowing Bowl: When and what to Drink, author William Schmidt listed the Tom Collins as including:

Tom Collins Gin (1891)
The juice of half a lemon in a large glass,
a bar-spoonful of sugar,
a drink of Tom gin; mix this well;
2 lumps of ice,
a bottle of plain soda.
Mix well and serve.[7]

One turn of the century recipe subsequently replaced the lemon juice with lime juice.[8]

Confusion in the origin

British weekly magazine Punch August 1891 article disparaging British physician Sir Morell Mackenzie efforts to assert England as the originating country of the Tom Collins cocktail.

In August 1891, British physician Sir Morell Mackenzie wrote an article in the 19th Century influential magazines Fortnightly Review to establish England as the originating country the Tom Collins cocktail and a person named John Collins as its creator.[9] In the article, Mackenzie quoted an old song, the title of which he indicated to be "John Collins."[9] 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.[9] In an attempt to clarify the issue, American writer Charles Montgomery Skinner noted in 1898 that the Tom Collins 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.[10]

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 noted:

"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."[11]

Modern mix

The 1986 The Book of Cocktails provides a modern take on Thomas' 1876 recipe for this long drink:

John (or Tom) Collins (1986)
ice cubes
2 oz. dry gin
2 oz. lemon juice
1 teaspoon sugar (gomme) syrup
soda water
slice of lemon
1 colored cherry
Place ample ice in large glass. Add gin, lemon juice and syrup. Top up with soda water and stir well. Serve with lemon slice, cherry and a straw.[12]

Other "Collins" Drinks

There are several other cocktails made in the same fashion and with the same ingredients as the Tom Collins, with the exception of the base liquor (gin in a Tom Collins).

  • Brandy Collins — with brandy (cognac, armagnac or similar)
  • Juan or José Collins - with tequila
  • Jack Collins — with applejack
  • Jake Collins — with gin and 2oz pineapple juice, topped up with soda water and a cherry.
  • John Collins — with bourbon or rye whisky
  • Michael Collins — with Irish whiskey, named for the Irish leader Michael Collins
  • Ron Collins — with rum (popular with tourists in Cuba), based on the Spanish word ron for "rum"
  • Sandy Collins or Jock Collins — with Scotch whisky
  • Vodka Collins or Comrade Collins — with vodka
  • Phil Collins — with 7-Up or Sprite.
  • Jallu Collins - with Jaloviina. Enjoyed among mainly Finnishmen.
  • Grand Orange Collins - with Grand Marnier, orange juice, lemon juice, Simple Syrup and club soda
  • Russell Collins - with Jägermeister
  • Sherron Collins - with large splash Orange Juice
  • Harry Collins - with Whisky, ginger beer and lime juice instead of lemon.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Sinclair, George (March 26, 2007). "The Great Tom Collins Hoax". Scribd. Retrieved 25 November 2008. 
  2. ^ Walsh, William S. (1892). Handy-Book of Literary Curiosities. pp. 450. ISBN 074264152X. Retrieved 25 November 2008. 
  3. ^ For the 1874 sheet music about the Tom Collins hoax, see Library of Congress.
  4. ^ a b Difford, Simon (2008). Cocktails: Over 2250 Cocktails. diffordsguide. pp. 351. ISBN 0955627605. Retrieved 25 November 2008. 
  5. ^ Thomas, Jerry (1887). Jerry Thomas' Bar-Tender's Guide or How to Mix Drinks. Dick and Fitzgerald. pp. 36. Retrieved 25 November 2008. 
  6. ^ a b Croly, Jane Cunningham (1878). Jennie June's American Cookery Book, Containing Upwards of Twelve Hundred Choice and Carefully Tested Receipts. Excelsior Publishing House. pp. 400. Retrieved 25 November 2008. 
  7. ^ Schmidt, William (1891). The Flowing Bowl: When and what to Drink : Full Instructions how to Prepare, Mix, and Serve Beverages. C.L. Webster. pp. 179. Retrieved 25 November 2008. 
  8. ^ Wiley, Harvey Washington (1919). Beverages and Their Adulteration: Origin, Composition, Manufacture, Natural, Artificial, Fermented, Distilled, Alkaloidal and Fruit Juices. P. Blakiston's Son. pp. 394. Retrieved 25 November 2008. 
  9. ^ a b c Lemon, Mark (August 8, 1891). "An 'umble corrections". Punch (magazine) 101: 70. Retrieved 25 November 2008. 
  10. ^ Skinner, Charles Montgomery (1899). Myths and Legends Beyond Our Borders. J. B. Lippincott & Co.. pp. 247–248. ISBN 141798029X. Retrieved 25 November 2008. 
  11. ^ Mencken, Henry Louis (1921). The American Language: An Inquiry Into the Development of English in the United States. Alfred A. Knopf. pp. 99. ISBN 0394733150. Retrieved 25 November 2008. 
  12. ^ Ridgwell, Jenny (1986). The Book of Cocktails. HPBooks. pp. 49. ISBN 9780895864833. Retrieved 25 November 2008. 

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Tom Collins — ist der Name folgender Personen: Tom Collins (Regisseur), irischer Regisseur (Eine Frau aus Derry) Tom Collins (Schauspieler), Schauspieler (Das große Rennen) Tom Collins ist auch: das Pseudonym des australischen Schriftstellers Joseph Furphy ein …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Tom Collins — n. COLLINS1 …   English World dictionary

  • Tom Collins — El Tom Collins es un cóctel y una variación del Gin Sour. Se prepara con los siguientes ingredientes: Ginebra Zumo de limón Almíbar o azúcar Agua carbonatada (Soda) Cubitos de hielo Agitar la ginebra con el zumo de limón, el almíbar/azúcar e… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Tom Collins — n. an iced cocktail of gin with soda, lemon or lime juice, and sugar. Etymology: 20th c.: orig. unkn. * * * Tom Collins [Tom Collins] noun a drink made with ↑gin, lemon or ↑lime juice, ↑fizzy water …   Useful english dictionary

  • Tom Collins — noun Etymology: from the name Tom Collins Date: circa 1909 a collins with a base of gin …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Tom Collins — Tom′ Col′lins n. vin an iced drink of gin, lemon or lime juice, sugar, and soda • Etymology: 1880–90; said to have been named after its inventor …   From formal English to slang

  • Tom Collins — /tɒm ˈkɒlənz/ (say tom koluhnz) noun a long drink containing gin, lemon or lime juice, and soda water, sweetened and served with ice …   Australian English dictionary

  • Tom Collins — a tall drink containing gin, lemon or lime juice, and carbonated water, sweetened and served with ice. [1905 10; said to have been named after its inventor] * * * …   Universalium

  • Tom Collins — noun A cocktail containing containing gin, lemon juice, sugar, and a splash of soda …   Wiktionary

  • Tom Collins — noun a cocktail made from gin mixed with soda, sugar, and lemon or lime juice. Origin perh. named after a 19th cent. London bartender …   English new terms dictionary

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.