What Does A Tom Collins Taste Like?

The Tom Collins cocktail is a classic that’s been around for centuries! A refreshing mix of gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, and club soda.

It has its roots in Great Britain before its popularity soared in the US in the late 1800s. So what does a Tom Collins taste like?

This tasty tipple has a bright and crisp flavor profile, thanks to the botanical notes of gin, the tartness of lemon, and the sweetness of simple syrup. Plus, the addition of club soda gives it a delightful effervescence.

Bartenders used to prank people by pretending to search for a man called Tom Collins, and that’s how the cocktail got its name! In this Finding Sanity article, we explore more of this comedic drink!

History of the Tom Collins

In the 19th-century streets of London, an intriguing rumor began circulating. Individuals were approached with the claim that a man named Tom Collins was spreading unsavory gossip about them.

This led many to search for this elusive Tom Collins. But only to realize they were victims of a widespread prank known as the “Great Tom Collins Hoax of 1874.”

In response to this widespread joke, bartenders saw an opportunity. They crafted a drink consisting of gin, lemon juice, sugar, and carbonated water, served over ice in a large glass.

This drink was aptly named the Tom Collins, drawing a connection to the hoax and the nonexistent man at its center.

Over time, the Tom Collins cocktail gained popularity and became a staple in bars worldwide. Its origin, rooted in jest and urban legend, adds a layer of intrigue to its refreshing taste.

What Does a Tom Collins Taste Like?

The Tom Collins is a clear, effervescent cocktail with a balanced flavor profile. The primary ingredient, gin, imparts botanical notes which provide a subtle herbal backdrop.

This is complemented by the sharpness of the lemon juice, introducing a tangy and tart dimension to the drink. Sugar is added to temper the acidity of the lemon, ensuring that the cocktail is neither too sour nor too sweet.

The carbonated water introduces a bubbly texture, enhancing the overall drinking experience by adding a refreshing quality. Overall, the Tom Collins offers a crisp, slightly sweet, and tangy flavor with a fizzy finish.

Tom Collins Cocktail with Garnish

Ingredients Needed for a Tom Collins

A Tom Collins is a classic and refreshing bevvie. To make it just right, you need the perfect mix of main ingredients. Check out the table below to get the scoop on what you need:

Gin2 oz
Fresh Lemon Juice1 oz
Simple Syrup0.5 oz
Club SodaTop Up

Gin is the main booze in a Tom Collins. It gives it that special botanical flavor. Fresh lemon juice adds a zingy, citrusy vibe. Simple syrup balances it out with a bit of sweetness. And club soda adds bubbles and lightens the texture.

How to Make a Tom Collins

To make a Tom Collins, start by preparing the glass and garnish. Then, mix the ingredients for a refreshing taste. Finally, add ice and serve to enjoy this classic cocktail.

Step One: Preparing the Glass and Garnish

Ready to make the perfect Tom Collins? Start with the glass and garnish.

  • Grab a Collins glass – tall and narrow, with around 10–14 ounces.
  • Fill with ice cubes or crushed ice for ideal chill.
  • Give it some flair by rimming with sugar or salt. Wet the rim with lemon or lime juice. Then dip into a plate of sugar or salt.
  • Garnish with a lemon slice and maraschino cherry – on the rim or inside the glass.
  • For more flavor, muddle some fresh mint leaves with the garnishes.

Presentation is key! A well-prepared glass and garnish will make the cocktail look and taste great.

Step Two: Mixing the Ingredients

To craft the perfect Tom Collins, mix your ingredients carefully! Begin by adding 2 ounces of gin in a glass.

Squeeze one lemon and add 1 ounce of simple syrup. To give it a fizzy kick, pour in 4 ounces of sparkling water.

Gently stir the mixture and add ice cubes for a chilled, refreshing taste.

Want to make your Tom Collins stand out? Try experimenting with flavored gins or a splash of fruit juice. Adjust the measurements to suit your taste preferences!

Variations of the Tom Collins

The Tom Collins has inspired numerous variations over the years. Here are some of the notable ones:

  1. John Collins: This is essentially the original Tom Collins but made with bourbon instead of gin. It’s named after a waiter from London’s Limmer’s Hotel who is believed to have created the drink.
  2. Vodka Collins: As the name suggests, this variation replaces gin with vodka. The result is a smoother drink with less of the botanical flavors that gin imparts.
  3. Ron Collins: A tropical twist on the classic, this version uses rum as its base spirit. It’s a favorite in many beach destinations.
  4. Sloe Gin Collins: This variation uses sloe gin, a red liqueur made from the sloe berry. The result is a fruitier and slightly sweeter drink.
  5. Whiskey Collins: Made with whiskey, this version has a deeper, smokier flavor profile compared to its gin counterpart.
  6. Tequila Collins: Swapping out gin for tequila, this variation introduces a slightly earthy flavor, reminiscent of agave.
  7. Raspberry Collins: This fruity take on the classic involves muddling fresh raspberries before adding the other ingredients. It’s both tangy and sweet, with a vibrant red hue.
  8. Elderflower Collins: A modern twist, this version incorporates elderflower liqueur or syrup, adding a fragrant and floral note to the drink.

Each variation offers a unique flavor, catering to different tastes and occasions. Whether you stick to the classic or venture out with these variations, the Collins family of cocktails promises a refreshing experience.

Tom Collins Cocktail with Orange Garnish

Pairing with Food

The table below offers some great dishes and snacks to pair with a Tom Collins:

Food TypeDescription
SeafoodThe acidity of the Tom Collins complements the richness of grilled shrimp, oysters, or ceviche.
ChickenGrilled or roasted chicken seasoned with herbs like rosemary or thyme pairs well with the botanical notes of the gin.
SaladsA fresh garden salad with a light vinaigrette or citrus-based dressing matches the tangy notes of the Tom Collins.
CheeseSoft cheeses like goat cheese or feta balance the sweet and sour elements of the drink.
Finger FoodsLight appetizers like bruschetta, spring rolls, or vegetable tempura are enhanced by the refreshing nature of the cocktail.
PastaPasta dishes with a lemon-based sauce or those with fresh vegetables, like a primavera, pair well with a Tom Collins.
Asian CuisineThe cocktail’s acidity complements sushi, Thai salads, or Vietnamese spring rolls.
DessertsLight and fruity desserts such as lemon sorbet or berry tarts resonate with the citrusy notes of the drink.


The Tom Collins, with its rich history and versatile flavor profile, has cemented its place in the annals of mixology.

From its cheeky London origins to its global variations and ideal food pairings, this cocktail is a testament to timeless appeal and adaptability.

Whether you’re a purist or an experimenter, the Tom Collins invites you to savor its refreshing essence. Cheers to a classic that never goes out of style!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Tom Collins a strong drink?

The alcohol content in a Tom Collins cocktail can vary depending on the amount of gin used, but it is generally considered a moderate-strength drink.

The gin is typically diluted with soda water, making it smoother and less potent than a straight shot of gin.

Can you make a non-alcoholic Tom Collins?

Yes, it is possible to make a non-alcoholic version of a Tom Collins. Instead of gin, you can use a non-alcoholic gin substitute or simply omit the alcohol altogether.

Replace the gin with a flavored syrup or a combination of citrus juices to replicate the taste.

What is the best glassware for serving a Tom Collins?

A Tom Collins is traditionally served in a tall, slender glass known as a Collins glass.

It allows for the drink to be garnished with a slice of lemon or a cherry and provides enough room for ice and the addition of soda water. The tall shape also helps with the presentation and enjoyment of the cocktail.

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Gwen Xavier

Gwen Xavier, the culinary genius behind Finding Sanity In Our Crazy Life, initially crafted her food-focused website out of a necessity to find joy in cooking. Over the years, her relationship with the kitchen transformed from a mere duty to a fervent passion. Today, Gwen shares a variety of recipes on a daily basis, curating meals that cater to diverse tastes and family preferences, proving that cooking can indeed become a love affair!