The origins of the Tom Collins cocktail may be unclear but the tall drink serves as a popular recipe template for various spirits.
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Delving into the history of the drink, the Tom Collins is attributed to John Collins, a bartender at Limmer’s Hotel, a popular coffee house and dive bar in London back in the 1860s. Others credit the origin of the cocktail to the Tom Collins Hoax of 1874 which involved people in New York telling others that a mysterious man by the name of Tom Collins was spreading insults about them and they could find him in a bar.
The first Tom Collins recipe is said to be published in in the third revised 1876 edition of The Bartenders’ Guide by Jerry Thomas, but not in the 1862 edition. More recently, in the Cocktail Codex by Alex Day, Nick Fauchald and David Kaplan which stipulates that there are only six cocktails and the rest are merely modifications, the authors include the Tom Collins in the Daiquiri chapter:
Another type of drink in the Daiquiri’s extended family is sours that have bubbly ingredients added.
Their tip for the best Collins is to use seltzer or soda water that’s as cold as possible.
What is best known in modern times as gin-based is likely to have been an Old Tom gin cocktail. The recipe has inspired adaptations to the template of spirit, syrup and lemon juice lengthened with soda water and served in a tall glass named after the drink.
Tom Collins Cocktail Recipe
- 60ml gin
- 20ml lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 20ml simple syrup
- chilled soda water to top
Glassware: Collins glass
Garnish: lemon wheel
In a cocktail shaker, add the gin, lemon juice and syrup over ice and shake hard until well chilled. Strain into a chilled Collins glass with ice and top with soda water. Garnish with a lemon wheel.
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