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Tom Collins
Tom Collins: The cocktail made famous thanks to a legendary prank!


For 1 person
5 cl gin
3 cl lemon juice
2 tsp sugar
7 cl sparkling water

How to make

Technique: straight to the glass / Glass: highball / Type: long drink (15cl) / Time: 5 mn
  1. Fill a glass with ice.

  2. Add the sugar, the lemon juice then the gin and top with sparkling water.

  3. Stir then decorate with a cherry and half a slice of lemon.


Very popular in America, the Tom Collins cocktail has an identical composition to the Gin Fizz, with the main difference that it is served on ice and made directly from the glass.

Collins are a type of long drink that dates back to 1850 and is thought to be attributed to Vincent Collins, a 23-year-old New York bartender. He made the Tom Collins from "Old Tom Gin", a softer and sweeter gin but today difficult to find, hence perhaps the origin of the name "Tom Collins". The Tom Collins was such a success that Vincent Collins would have created around 1970 the "John Collins" in tribute to his brother by replacing the gin with bourbon. This origin of the John Collins remains nevertheless more than uncertain, David Wondrich writes in "Imbibe!" that the John Collins was born in England around 1830, and yet another version says that it would be a "John Collins" who invented the cocktail of the same name in the 1800s. These last two versions remain more probable, the Tom Collins would then take his name from a huge hoax that actually occurred in the summer of 1974.

The joke was to meet a friend or a complete stranger in the street, and make him believe that a certain Tom Collins was making abusive comments about him and that this famous Tom Collins was in the local bar. When this person then went to the bar to settle accounts, an accomplice in the bar then explained that Tom Collins had gone to another bar. The victim ended up wandering from bar to bar to find Tom Collins. The more and more scapegoats, the major newspapers have reported on the phenomenon. The "Daily Republican" published in June 1974 "Tom Collins Still Among Us" indicating that the individual had continued all day yesterday with his harmful project of defamation of citizens and that he had managed to keep the distance on his pursuers. The daily goes on to write that at certain times Tom Collins was on the verge of being captured by his pursuers, his movements are watched with the greatest vigilance.

When the press realized that it was a hoax, they would have continued to play the game even stating that Collins had been spotted in California on the road to Arizona, and that at the next spring he will have entered the South American Republic.

This story has seen the popularity of the cocktail grow, with scapegoats being made to make cocktails named "Tom Collins" when they enter bars. We could well imagine that the hoax was originally launched in a purely marketing project, anyway the cocktail became very famous in America after this story. After the stuffing, the Tom Collins quickly became the most served cocktail in the gambling halls of New York, O.H. Byron honored it as the most popular cocktail in "The Modern Bartender's Guide" in 1884.

In 1891, the British doctor Sir Morell Mackenzie wanted to attribute the origin of the Tom Collins cocktail to England in a magazine article, and more specifically to a certain John Collins. He also indicates that the cocktail is linked to a song of the same name, something refuted shortly after by another magazine which points out that the song is actually called "Jim Collins". In 1898, the American writer Charles Montgomery Skinner indicates that the Tom Collins is a cocktail of American origin which was developed in France, England and Germany.

While the origin of the cocktail remains as uncertain as ever, the recipe has evolved since 1876 with, in particular, the disappearance of gum syrup and the use of a more "classic" gin than Old Tom Gin.