Tom Collins recipe: an easy gin cocktail

The Tom Collins is essentially gin and lemonade, but it is also so much more than that. Here we show you how to make this summery cocktail

Tom Collins recipe cocktail on background
(Image credit: Master of Malt)

The Tom Collins – like many early cocktails – has conflicting origin stories depending on who you talk to. It was first written down in 1878 by American mixologist, Jerry Thomas, but historians say it is very similar to gin punches served in London clubs in the early 19th century. As a Tom Collins recipe is basically gin and lemonade, we reckon it has hundreds of inventors – be it those who had run out of tonic for their G&T or others who just fancied a long refreshing lemonade on a hot day with a cheeky shot of gin.

A Tom Collins is usually made with Old Tom gin. When most of us think gin, the flavour than comes to mind is London dry, and Old Tom is a slightly sweeter gin that lends itself to a sweet and sour, lemony cocktail. Another characteristic of the Tom Collins is that it is served in a Collins glass. This is nothing fancy, just the slim, tall glass most of us have for water glasses. 

Read on to learn how to make a Tom Collins, then check out our other cocktail recipes for more drinks to try at home.

How to make a Tom Collins

Master of Malt have shared their Tom Collins recipe using Conker Dorset Dry Gin, but look out for Old Tom gins that are slightly sweeter than your London dry.

We love how this recipe calls for very few ingredients. As long as you have gin, soda and lemons, you can make it – we even explain how to make your own sugar syrup below. This recipe is for one, but scale up, fill a pitcher and share in a sunny garden.


  • 50ml gin
  • 25ml freshly squeezed lemon
  • 15ml sugar syrup
  • Soda water
  • Lemon peel or wedge to garnish
  • Ice


1. Put the gin, lemon juice and sugar syrup in a cocktail shaker filled with ice.

2. Strain into a collins (or highball glass) and add cubes of ice.

3. Top up with soda water and stir gently.

4. Garnish with a lemon wedge, or peel, to serve.

How to make your own sugar syrup

If you don't have sugar syrup, it is really easy to make your own. Simply dissolve 200g of white caster sugar in 100ml of water, in a pan over a low heat. Once dissolved allow to cool a little, before bottling. This can be stored in the fridge and used in a number of your favourite cocktails.

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