The global novel coronavirus pandemic may have grounded us, but we can still enjoy happy hour. This daily series will provide delicious drink recipes for you to try at home. So call your friends for a virtual sip session and traverse the globe, even if it's only in your mind. 

Four Tom Collins cocktails on a bar
Tom Collins is a beloved summer cocktail © Ivan Mateev / Shutterstock

Today's cocktail hails from the USA – Tom Collins.

What is it?

A beloved summer classic combining gin, lemon, sugar and soda, this American cooler evolved from English roots and solidified its independence with a name change and its own special tumbler. 


Most historians agree Tom is a descendant of a fizzy Jenever (from Holland) gin and lemon cocktail originated by one John Collins at Limmer’s hotel in London and popular in the mid-1800s. Imbibed on American shores, theories abound concerning the name change: a nod to the use of Old Tom Gin? Or capitalizing on a famous 1874 hoax that saw punters running from bar to bar in New York, in search of the fictitious scallywag “Tom Collins” who was supposedly talking about them? 

You’ll need (serves 1)

ice cubes 
2fl oz (60ml) Old Tom or London dry gin 
1fl oz (30ml) simple syrup (see below) 
1fl oz (30ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice 
soda water 
slice of lemon, lime or grapefruit 
maraschino cherry 


Step 1: Fill a Tom Collins glass ¾ full with ice cubes. 
Step 2: Add gin, simple syrup (see below) and lemon to the glass. 
Step 3: Add soda water to fill the glass close to the rim. 
Step 4: Stir to ensure components are mixed. 
Step 5: Add a citrus slice and a maraschino cherry to garnish. 

Tip: To prepare a simple syrup, combine equal volumes of water and sugar in a small saucepan. Heat over a medium heat, and stir until sugar dissolves. Cool. This will keep refrigerated for at least a month. 

Tasting notes

Few cocktails herald summer’s arrival better than Tom Collins, and he’s always ready to oblige when you’re in need of a refined thirst quencher. Imbibing is all too easy: each sip delivering a burst of sun-splashed citrus through the effervescence, while the gin gives you a potent kick on its way down. Tom’s waiting for you and your friends anywhere along the Eastern seaboard on a lazy, hazy afternoon, and he’s also long associated with sportsmen, fitting nicely in hand for social spectator events such as tennis or horse racing. Should you win your bets, consider swapping the soda for champagne for a more sophisticated and celebratory “French 75". 

Other recipes:

Bloody Mary

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