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Tom Collins Cocktail (Best Recipe)

When it comes to classic cocktails, the Tom Collins cocktail is right up there with the best of them. It’s as famous as a classic Margarita, Martini, or Jack and Coke.

It’s a delightfully refreshing and dependable cocktail. No matter where you go, you can guarantee someone will know how to make a Tom Collins.

Refreshing Tom Collins Cocktail
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Luckily, you don’t need a bartender to whip you up a stiff Tom Collins.

With this recipe, you can do the mixing yourself.

What Is a Tom Collins?

A Tom Collins is a famous gin-based cocktail that’s been around since the late 1800s. It combines gin, lemon juice, and simple soda. It’s served it over ice and topped off with club soda.

It’s a somewhat dry but wonderfully refreshing cocktail.

Its name likely comes from what bartenders call “The Great Tom Collins Hoax.” In 1874, there was a practical joke making the rounds.

One person would ask another if they knew Tom Collins. When the second person said no, the first would respond, “He’s been visiting every bar in town telling lies about you!”

That, of course, would send the unsuspecting person to a local bar inquiring about “Tom Collins.” Legend says that bartenders caught on and named a drink after the joke.

That way, when someone asked about Tom Collins, the bartender could hand him a drink. (Which he would then, of course, charge him for.)

Maybe that story is true, maybe it’s not. Either way, it’s a fun one to tell.

Ice Cold Tom Collins Cocktail


A traditional Tom Collins contains the following ingredients:

  • Ice A Tom Collins is best served cold, so you need lots of ice. Some will go in the shaker to chill the drink. The rest will go in the glass.
  • Gin Select a high-quality gin with a fresh, crisp taste. I like Old Tom and London Dry best. Their flavors complement the other ingredients well.
  • Lemons (juice and wedge) – Fresh lemon juice tastes best in a Tom Collins. However, you can use bottled lemon juice in a pinch. Your best bet is to buy fresh lemons, though. You can juice one and cut the other into wedges for the garnish.
  • Simple syrup – To make simple syrup, combine one cup of water and one cup of sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir the mixture regularly while it’s heating. It’s ready when all the sugar has dissolved.
  • Club soda – Any brand will suffice. Pour it over the top of your Tom Collins for extra sparkle and fizz.
Two Glasses of Tim Collin Cocktail Garnished With Cherry and Slice of Lemon

How to Make a Tom Collins Cocktail

Follow these steps to make the perfect Tom Collins:

1. Chill the glass. Fill a Collins glass with 1-1/2 cups of ice, then chill in the freezer.

2. Mix. Combine the remaining ice and all the drink ingredients in a cocktail shaker.

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3. Shake. Shake the shaker vigorously until the drink is chilled.

4. Strain, sip, and enjoy! Strain the drink into the chilled Collins glass. Top it off with club soda and add your lemon wedge garnish. Sip, savor, and enjoy!

How to Serve a Tom Collins

There is no wrong way to serve a Tom Collins. However, there is a traditional way to do it.

Typically, you should serve a Tom Collins in a Collins glass over ice. A Collins glass is like a highball glass but narrower. It’s tall, cylindrical, and slim.

The classic garnish for a Tom Collins is a lemon wedge or lemon slice. Maraschino cherries are also common, though they aren’t a requirement.

Refreshing Tim Collins Cocktail

Tips and Variations

The Tom Collins is a straightforward drink. It doesn’t require much effort or tweaking. Still, keep these tips and variations in mind:

  • Use clear ice. This is a presentation thing, but clear ice looks amazing in a Tom Collins.
  • Vary the sweetener. If you don’t have simple syrup and don’t want to make any, don’t! Use maple syrup as a sweetener instead.
  • Try some fun variations. There are dozens of Tom Collins variations out there. The Vodka Collins (a Tom Collins made with vodka) is probably the most common. You can also try a Raspberry Collins (muddle fresh raspberries) or a Spiced Collins (a Tom Collins with bitters). A quick Google will give you even more variations to try.
  • Make it sweeter. Instead of club soda, top your drink with Sprite or 7-Up. It’ll give you the same great fizz, but the cocktail will be slightly sweeter.
  • Make it faster (and stronger)! If you want, you can make the drink by stirring the ingredients together. (Instead of using a shaker.) It won’t get as cold, but it comes together more quickly. It also results in a stronger-tasting drink until some of the ice melts.
  • Add Maraschino cherries. Come on, admit it. Every cocktail is better with a few Maraschino cherries in the mix.

Tom Collins Cocktail (Best Recipe)



Prep time


Cooking time





This Tom Collins cocktail is a true classic. Made with gin, lemons, simple syrup, and club soda, it’s light and refreshing.


  • 2 1/2 cups ice, divided

  • 2 fluid ounces gin

  • 3/4 fluid ounce lemon juice

  • 1/2 fluid ounce simple syrup

  • 2 fluid ounces club soda

  • 1 lemon wedge


  • Add 1-1/2 cups of ice to a Collins glass. Place the glass in the freezer.
  • Add the gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup to a cocktail shaker. Then, add the remaining cup of ice. Cover and shake vigorously until chilled.
  • Strain the drink into the chilled Collins glass. Top with club soda, and add a lemon wedge garnish (if desired). Enjoy!
Tom Collins Cocktail

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author avatar
Kim - InsanelyGood
Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

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