The Tom Collins is one of the most classic cocktails there is. The drink goes back to at least 1876 and probably much further, as gin mixed with lemonade. And that description is true to this day. That said, bartenders tend to cut big corners with this drink which takes away from its depth and greatness, and makes it pretty bland. Let’s not do that.
The biggest corners cut are on the lemon and sugar component of this drink. Collins mix is a common sight in every liquor store. You really do not need to waste your time with that stuff. This drink is super easy to make without it. Secondly, a lot of bartenders will make this in the glass with simple bar syrup. And those are okay… at best. But by not a) using powdered sugar and b) shaking this cocktail, you’re missing out on something that makes a lot more sense as a “classic” that’s transcended entire centuries than a quick, sweet highball that’s likely pretty “meh.”
So, let’s take it back to the late 1800s and shake up a killer Tom Collins because this is one of the best spring-summer refreshers you can have. Seriously, this is mega-thirst-quenching in every sip. Let’s get shaking!
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- 1.5 oz. London dry gin
- 1 oz. fresh lemon juice
- 1 barspoon of powdered sugar
- Fizzy mineral water
- Lemon wheels
- Luxardo cherry
As mentioned above, you need powdered sugar for this. Any standard stuff that you get in your store’s baking aisle will do. If you want to get super fancy, you can make your own with a pestle and mortar (have fun with that!). The rest is pretty straightforward. I like using Gordon’s London Dry Gin because it’s affordable and findable. Lastly, make sure to get good fizzy mineral water with a lot of fizziness. The more minerally bubbles, the better.
What You’ll Need:
- Collins glass (a tall and narrow eight-ounce glass)
- Cocktail shaker
- Cocktail strainer
- Paring knife
- Hand juicer
- Cocktail spear
- Fill the Collins glass with fresh ice. Set aside.
- Add the gin, lemon juice, and powdered sugar to the shaker. Add a handful of ice cubes, affix the lid, and shake vigorously for about 20 to 30 seconds.
- Use the cocktail strainer to pour the base over the ice in the Collins glass, it should fill the glass about 2/3.
- Top the cocktail with a small, maybe two-ounce, pour of fizzy mineral water. Use the barspoon to gently stir the drink once or twice.
- Garnish with a fresh lemon wheel and speared cherry. Serve.
This is delightful! The powdered sugar and lemon acids bind in the shake and create a mouthfeel that’s halfway between a lemon angel food cake and a lemon meringue. There’s actual texture and depth here even though it’s topped with fizzy water. That depth is never going to be there if you’re making this in the glass with simple syrup, much less Collins mix.
Then there’s how refreshing this is. A drop or two of the cherry syrup spirals through the drink, adding a fruity, candy sweetness to the end. But the lightness and brightness before that are off the charts. This is like taking a sip of cool on a hot day from top to bottom. Five stars! I know I’ll be making more of these as the weather heats up — you should too!