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Tom Collins
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Difficulty: Easy

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Makes: 1 drink

The Tom Collins is a tall, cool drink that is not unlike a Gin Fizz. These two sour-based drinks, topped off with bubbly water, differ primarily in their distinct glasses and garnishes. Eyes wide shut, it is impossible to taste the difference between a Gin Fizz and a Tom Collins.

Those who have enjoyed a Tom Collins may not know it has a twin, the John Collins. They were born fraternal twins during the middle of the 19th century, but they have been cloned into identical twins for many bartenders today. As one might expect, a barkeep named Tom Collins is credited with creating the Tom Collins. Then where is John Collins? It is more likely that the Tom came from the sweet Old Tom Gin used in the drink, while John loosely referred to the more aromatic Dutch gin—jenever—mixed into a John Collins. Whatever the source, dry gin eventually became the spirit of preference for a Tom Collins, and whiskey replaced gin in a John Collins—for some. There are bartenders who see no distinction and make both with gin. Club soda, seltzer, and mineral water are readily available today, and collinses have come to include vodka, rum, and even Cognac. But sparkling waters were rather expensive, if not unobtainable, 150 years ago, and bicarbonate of soda was used then to give these cocktails their effervescence. Take two Alka-Seltzer in your collins, and don’t bother calling in the morning. If you still haven’t had enough punishment and are a history buff, you can always try the Aqua Velva Collins. When soldiers during World War II ran dry, they would substitute this aftershave for gin.

The Tom Collins was so much in demand in the 19th century that it had its own glass named for it. A collins glass holds 2 to 4 ounces more than the highball glass used for fizzes. Also unlike a fizz, the collins always sports fruit, sometimes to the extreme. A cherry and an orange slice will do. Once again, ignore those bottles and packets of collins mix, and build your drink from fresh fruit.


  1. 1Shake gin, lemon juice, and sugar with ice, then pour into a chilled collins glass filled with ice.
  2. 2Add club soda and garnish with orange slice and maraschino cherry.


John Collins: Substitute whiskey or bourbon for the gin.

Vodka, Brandy, and Rum Collinses can all be made by substituting the respective spirit for the gin in a Tom Collins.

  • Tom Collins

This recipe, while from a trusted source, may not have been tested by the CHOW food team.
Copyright Quirk Books

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