Koktail Kicks: Tom Collins

Koktail Magazine

11 Nov 2022

Your weekly spill-all on classic cocktails—their origin stories, their ingredients, and why we love them

If you think the Tom Collins cocktail is based on its creator’s name it turns out you are probably wrong. The origin is steeped in some mystery.

The story of Tom Collins dates most likely back to 1874 to New York City. There was a mass prank going on in the city of dreams where people would deceive their friends saying that a guy is talking bad and making harsh accusations about them in a nearby bar and that guy's name is Tom Collins. Once hearing that, the accused would get fired up and burst into the bar to look for this troubled man. He would run to the bartender and ask “have you seen Tom Collins?” who it turns out was never there and never existed.

Then in 1876 renowned bartender and mixologist Jerry Thomas mixed a drink, with ingredients of gin, lemon juice, simple syrup and club soda, that he called the Tom Collins. So anytime people ran into a bar to ask for Tom Collins, the bartender could whip this drink up and say “Here is your Tom Collins”.

However, another story suggests the drink was made by a bartender at Limmer’s Hotel in London named Tom Collins. He was well known for his “Gin Punch” creation which was made of London dry gin, lemon juice, soda water and a bit of a sweetener. However, it wasn’t entirely created by him as he also gave another bartender, Stephen Price half the credit.

Whether the drink comes from a great hoax or a man’s name, Tom Collins cocktail is one of the delicious classics. It tastes like lemonade with a boozy hint—fizzy, citrusy, and refreshing, with herbal notes from the gin.

Tonight try bursting into a bar and asking the bartender for Tom Collins who you have heard is saying bad things about you, let’s see if Bangkok bartenders would play along with the prank!