The Best Tom Collins Recipe

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Cocktail Type


Great for

After Work



Two refreshing Tom Collins cocktails on a wooden surface, garnished with lemon slices and cherries

Light, bubbly, and superbly refreshing, the best Tom Collins recipe yields a beautifully nostalgic drink that is as easy to enjoy as it is to pour. This iconic highball is a riff on the classic gin sour, and the ideal drink to clink when the weather is balmy and you want something ice cold, tall, and delicious to sip at leisure. 



A darker Luxardo cherry makes for a nice dramatic garnish.


Try a seasonal twist by adding orange slices instead of lemon.


Sloe gin adds a festive touch around the holidays.



1 Person

60 Ml

2 Oz

2 Parts

30 Ml

1 Oz

1 Parts

Sugar syrup or maple syrup
30 Ml

1 Oz

1 Parts

Fresh lemon juice
135 Ml

4.5 Oz

4.5 Parts

Soda water
To garnish, a maraschino cherry and a lemon wheel



Shake the gin, syrup and lemon juice to a cocktail shaker with a few ice cubes until well chilled


Strain into a Collins glass filled glass with ice, and charge the glass with soda water


Garnish with a lemon wheel and cocktail cherry, and serve

The history of the Tom Collins cocktail

Cocktail lore has it that the best Tom Collins recipe ever had been developed by 1876, when it was first penned down. However, it is also suggested that it was already a thing at the end of the 1860s, and that it was a renowned London waiter which gave the effervescent drink its name. Long story short – it’s a cocktail that has stood the test of time, and even the International Bartenders Association (IBA) agrees.  

Variations of the Tom Collins to try at home

Once you’ve tried the best recipe for Tom Collins, we guarantee that you’re going to want to explore a few other spin-offs as well. Here are a few delightful variations to try at home:  

John Collins cocktail

The John Collins cocktail is rather similar to a Tom Collins, but is made with bourbon whiskey like Wild Turkey 101 instead of gin. The rest of the ingredients remain soda water, sugar syrup, and lemon juice to make an easy-drinking cocktail. The smoky notes of the bourbon take it into a different flavour space though, and whiskey lovers adore it. 

Vodka Collins cocktail

To make a Vodka Collins you simply swap out the gin for a good-quality vodka like SKYY Vodka, and keep the rest of the ingredients the same. If you’re feeling adventurous, you could of course try a flavoured vodka and bring some extra sweet or zesty notes to the party. 

More gin inspo: Winter Gin Cocktails to Sip by the Fireside 

When to serve a Tom Collins cocktail

The best Tom Collins cocktail recipe makes a super versatile drink that hits the mark no matter what the occasion, but we particularly love to serve it at hen dos, weddings, and barbeques that call for a cocktail that’s easy to pour, but good-looking regardless.  

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A Tom Collins combines gin, sugar syrup, lemon juice, and soda water. A John Collins combines bourbon whiskey, sugar syrup, lemon juice, and soda water. However, the story also goes that the John Collins was actually the original and that the Tom Collins came about due to the use of Old Tom Gin.

A Gin and Tonic combines gin and tonic water. A Tom Collins combines gin, sugar syrup, lemon juice, and soda water. Both drinks are gin-based, but a gin and tonic is more tart, whereas a Tom Collins falls on the sweeter end of the drinks spectrum.