The Cocktail Revolution HQ

The Classic Tom Collins

A short history of one of our most approachable, refreshing and classic cocktails.


Invented by the godfather of American mixology, Jerry Thomas, the Tom Collins is a summertime favourite, which combines the floral botanicals of gin with the tartness of lemon juice and the refreshing qualities of soda water.


But what's intriguing about this cocktail is the fact that it was inspired by one big hoax, which originated during the summer of 1874.


A gag that gained national momentum as a joke that passed through various networks and friendship groups, an unassuming friend would be told that a man going by the name of Tom Collins was spreading misinformed rumours about them at the local bar.


When the friend arrived at the bar seeking further information, the bartender (who was always in on the joke), would simply inform them that Tom Collins had already headed to another bar. So the victim would then travel all across the city, searching for the coward, Tom Collins.


After a couple of months, the hoax had rapidly spread and headlines such as “Tom Collins still amongst us" adorned newspapers all over America. As it happened, whoever wasn't in on the joke soon caught on, including the embarrassed newspapers themselves.


So as one of New York's great entrepreneurs (and obviously a great bartender in his own right), Jerry Thomas decided to take advantage of the situation by using this situation to benefit his business in creating what has now become one of the most famous and favoured cocktails of all time, the Tom Collins.


Made simply by combining a large dash of gin, the juice of half a large lemon, a large dash of sugar syrup, and topped up with soda water in a glass filled with ice, this cocktail is a clear alcoholic take on traditional lemonade, with a dash of creative genius of course.


A favourite amongst countless other basics, countless other variations have surfaced over the years, including the John Collins, which uses bourbon instead of gin, a vodka Comrade Collins and even the tequila-based José Collins.


Created with a little laughter, you too now have a story to tell as you mix your friends some easy to make summer cocktails.


Image Credit: Brian loves words

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