Tom Collins. Even if you haven’t tried the drink, you’ve probably heard the name, and for good reason. It’s a classic cocktail that should have a space in everyone home bartender’s repertoire. It’s simple, it’s refreshing, and it’s made up of ingredients that you probably have on hand.
If romance novelist Joan Collins had a juice stand, this is what she’d be selling. Lemonade for grownups. Citrus, sugar, soda, and gin, served in a tall glass, beaded with condensation in the midday heat, sweating…trickling…
Sorry, where was I?
The Tom Collins, that’s right. Named after not Joan Collins, and not even Tom Collins, but John Collins, the headwaiter at London’s Limmer’s Hotel in the 1820s and 1830s. According to cocktail historian David Wondrich, John Collins was famed for serving a sweetened punch of gin, citrus, and chilled soda water. That he didn’t actually invent the cocktail didn’t seem to matter; John was good at his job and had an effervescent personality. Affability apparently goes a long way toward winning you favor, and a beverage named in your honor. At any rate, Wondrich points out that the the honor didn’t last too long. As American drinkers started to prefer their collins being made with English Old Tom gin, the name morphed to reflect the change. John became Tom, and the Tom Collins was born.