Best Tom Collins Cocktail Recipes

An American Classic

If you are not familiar with Jerry Thomas, know that he is considered the “father of American mixology” and created many of our favorite American cocktail recipes. The Tom Collins is perhaps one of his most cherished creations and is a remake of the once-popular Jim Collins cocktail. The Tom Collins cocktail is created from a gin base and featured citrus and sweet flavors finished off with a splash of carbonated water. The Tom Collins is so popular that there was even a unique glass created to best enjoy it (the Collins glass.)It is traditionally served on the rocks.

If you are interested in trying a piece of American history, the Tom Collins is the perfect way to do so. Be warned that the cocktail may be a bit strong for some drinkers and can have a very plain flavor when compared to competing cocktails. To remedy this, many mixologists have created variant recipes over the years that pay homage to the traditional recipe while creating new and unique drinks. We have collected the best Tom Collins recipes to share with you today. Take a look at the list below and choose whichever seems most delicious to serve next time you are craving a cocktail!

Traditional Tom Collins – 2 oz Gin, 1 dash Orange Bitters, .5 oz Simple Syrup, .75 oz Lemon Juice, Seltzer Water, Lemon Wedge

If you have never tried a Tom Collins before, it’s best to begin with the traditional approach to truly know what flavors you are working with. This cocktail is a bit simple, but packs a powerful punch. The carbonation from the seltzer water really helps the Tom Collins stand apart from the pack. To create this drink:

  • Fill a cocktail shaker with ice
  • Add all liquid ingredients (except for seltzer) and shake briefly
  • Strain into a glass over fresh ice
  • Top with a spurt of seltzer
  • Garnish with lemon wedge, then serve

Cranberry Collins 2 oz Gin, .5 oz Cranberry Juice, 1 oz Lime Juice, Seltzer Water, Lime Wedge

With the holiday season so close, perhaps you are craving the sweet flavor of cranberry. This recipe uses cranberry instead of simple syrup to pack a powerful and delicious punch. It is also perfect for either warm or cold weather. To create this drink:

  • Fill a glass with ice
  • Add all ingredients (except seltzer water) to the glass and stir
  • Top with a spurt of seltzer water
  • Garnish glass with a lime wedge, then serve

John Collins – 2 oz Bourbon, 1 dash Bitters, .5 oz Rich Demerara Syrup, .75 oz Lemon Juice, Seltzer Water, Orange Wedge, Basil Leaves

This cousin of the Tom Collins adds really fresh flavor with the addition of basil in the shaker. If you squeeze the orange slice into the drink, it really heightens the delicious flavors and lets the citrus really shine along with the other ingredients. Consider whipping up a few to share with friends over brunch. To create this drink:

  • Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add a few fresh basil leaves
  • Add bourbon, bitters, demerara syrup, and lemon juice to shaker
  • Shake briefly
  • Strain into glass over ice
  • Top with seltzer and garnish with orange wedge, then serve

Vodka Collins – 2 oz Vodka, 1 tsp Simple Syrup, 1 oz Lemon Juice, Seltzer Water, Lemon Wedge, Maraschino Cherry

Instead of gin, this recipe calls for vodka and packs a harder punch than the traditional Tom Collins. However, the rest of the base ingredients remain and are reminiscent enough of the original that Tom Collins fans will still enjoy it and vodka drinkers will be willing to give the cocktail a try. If you’re looking for a small twist on the beloved classic, this is the perfect recipe. To create this drink:

  • Fill a glass with ice
  • Add lemon juice, simple syrup, and vodka
  • Stir thoroughly
  • Top with seltzer water and garnish glass with lemon wedge
  • Drop in a maraschino cherry, then serve

Ron Collins – 2 oz Spiced Rum, 1 dash Bitters, .5 oz Demerara Syrup, .5 oz Calamansi Juice, Pineapple Soda, 2 Lime Wedges, Orange wedge, Pineapple Wedge

Sweet pineapple really makes this recipe stand out from the rest and will help it transition between weather changes (or just create a refreshing drink after a hard day of work.) This cocktail is indulgent yet delicious, perfect for a night out on the town or even celebrating at home. Your friends will all think your a mixology master after trying one and are sure to beg you for more. To create this drink:

  • Muddle lime and orange wedges in a cocktail shaker
  • Fill shaker with ice and add rum, bitters, demerara syrup, and calamansi juice
  • Shake briefly
  • Strain into glass over ice
  • Top with pineapple soda
  • Garnish glass with pineapple wedge, then serve

Sandy Collins – 2 oz Scotch, 1 tsp Simple Syrup, 1 oz Lemon Juice, Seltzer Water, Lemon Wedge, Maraschino Cherry

Just like the Vodka Collins, this Tom Collins recipe replaces the traditional gin base. The scotch in this cocktail really works well with the other traditional flavors and creates a full-bodied cocktail that is sure to impress. It also creates a picture perfect drink that is ready to be shown off to your friends via social media. To create this drink:

  • Fill a glass with ice
  • Add simple syrup, lemon juice, and scotch
  • Stir thoroughly and top with seltzer water
  • Drop in a maraschino cherry
  • Garnish glass with lemon wedge, then serve

We believe the Tom Collins is a true American classic and everyone should try at least one in their lifetime. However, we know that excitement is the spice of life and it’s exciting to try variations every now and again. We hope that you enjoyed our list of Tom Collins cocktails. Hopefully, our suggestions have sparked a fire in you to give the Tom Collins and its many variations a try if you have not before. Reach for this list next time you pull out your cocktail shaker and are considering which drink to make!