Collinses, historically, are a class of cocktails calling for a spirit, simple syrup, lemon juice, and soda water. The Tom Collins calls for gin, of course. Historically, that would have been Old Tom gin, hence the name, but these days London dry is common. Try it with Old Tom if you have it, though. Or sub TanquerayTomCollins_Lin the spirit of your choice; just about anything will work in this formula. This drink is so refreshing and so easy to sip that I think anyone who likes to drink should be able to make one.

Yes, yes, you can skimp and pour gin into a glass and top it off with Sprite. The first time I was ever inebriated was on a Sprite-version Tom Collins, at a cousin’s wedding when I was in high school. I have a soft spot for such Collins knockoffs, but I still urge you not to make it this way. The drink is much more delicious made with fresh, real juice.

Quick Tom Collins History

The Tom Collins dates back more than a century and a half, but its welcoming crispness keeps it fresh always. So established in the libational world, the Tom Collins even has its own eponymous glass (tall, with plenty of room for ice). Over the years, the drink has faced some challenges–bottles of Holland House Collins Mix in my parents’ liquor cabinet spring to mind. Was squeezing a lemon really so difficult? But successfully navigating its course from horse-and-carriage days to the digital age, the Tom Collins is built for survival. Keep some lemons and soda water on-hand this weekend and knock together a Collins in between grilling stints.


  • 2 ounces gin
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (preferably superfine)
  • Chilled club soda


  1. Add gin, lemon and sugar to a Collins glass and stir to dissolve sugar (you can instead use simple syrup and make the process easier). Fill glass with large chunks of ice and top with chilled club soda. Insert straw and do what comes natural.