Tom Collins

Enjoy a refreshing Tom Collins cocktail on a bright summer day. It’s a spiked lemonade made with gin, simple syrup for a little sweetness, and seltzer for fizz—summer is calling.

Tom Collins cocktail garnished with lemon and on a table with a bottle of gin.
Sam Schick

The ever-popular Tom Collins is a sparkling sour drink with a refreshing kick, a bright summer cocktail that couldn’t be easier to mix up.

A gin fizz, sparkling sour, or a simple spiked lemonade—the Tom Collins goes by many names, but it’s a classic no matter how you shake it. Old Tom gin, lemon juice, cold seltzer, and some sweetener over ice in a tall glass and you have a drink that is, somehow, both a simple pleasure and a well-crafted work of art.

How to Make a Tom Collins

A Tom Collins calls for gin as its only base spirit, typically a London Dry like Beefeater. Use Old Tom gin if you have it. If you want to explore gin a little more, try one of these Gin of the Month Clubs where you get to sample craft gin to find your personal favorite.

The dance partner for gin is fresh lemon juice, with a sweetener like simple syrup or even maple syrup to balance everything out.

If you want to get creative, you can muddle fresh lemon wedges with granulated or caster sugar, but from there the only trick is to sweeten your cocktail just enough to tone down the citrus, without making a sweet mess of the whole drink.

Top everything off with just a few ounces of a well-carbonated club soda.

Classic Tom Collins cocktail garnished with lemon with a plate of lemons to the left and a bottle of gin behind it.
Sam Schick

The Secret to a Sublime Tom Collins

The difference between a deliciously passable Tom Collins and a memorable one might just come down to moderation, specifically when it comes to sweetening and chilling.

If you over-sweeten, you’re overpowering the beauty of a good gin. If you over-dilute your mix by over-shaking with ice, you’ll have a drink that is both less fizzy and less distinct in taste.

  • Sweeten to your taste, but I’d say less is more.
  • Shake your drink for no more than five seconds — just long enough to chill.

Best Gin for a Tom Collins

Look for Old Tom gin first, it’s less spicy and drier than London Dry, it goes very well with fresh citrus, rounding out all edges, while still having some character. Hayman’s is an affordable option, generally available, and frankly makes for a great Tom Collins. If you’re looking for a commonly used gin that is easy to find, try Beefeater.

How to Garnish a Tom Collins

You can take a classic approach or add some sophistication garnishing your drink. Below I outline three options, but, of course, feel free to come up with your own personal favorite.

  • Tuck a lemon wedge or wheel along the side of the glass
  • Spear a cherry through a folded up lemon or orange wheel
  • Dip a thinly sliced lemon wheel in sugar and char it in a hot skillet until the sugar starts to caramelize around the edges
Two Classic Tom Collins cocktails on a table with ice in front and a plate of sliced lemons to the the left.
Sam Schick

The Collins Glass

One of the few drinks served in a glass sharing its name, The Tom Collins (and all of the variations listed below) is served over thick ice in a Collins glass, a taller glass just a touch narrower than a Highball. If you don’t have one of these, by all means use whatever you have, but look for a glass tall enough to warrant a straw.

Tom Collins Variations

If you change your base spirit you’ll end up with a different Collins. Here are a few variations to try:

  • Sandy Collins: Scotch whisky
  • John Collins: Genever
  • Pedro Collins: Rum
  • Jack Collins: Apple brandy
  • Pierre Collins: Cognac

More Refreshing Summer Cocktails

Tom Collins

Prep Time 5 mins
Total Time 5 mins
Serving 1 serving
Yield 1 cocktail


  • 2 ounces Old Tom gin

  • 3/4 ounce lemon juice

  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup

  • 2 ounces seltzer

  • Lemon wheel and cherry flag, for garnish


  1. Add ingredients to shaker and shake cocktail:

    Add the gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup to a shaker half-filled with ice. Shake until it’s just chill to the touch, about 5 to 10 seconds.

  2. Strain the cocktail:

    Strain the cocktail into the chilled Collins glass filled with ice.

  3. Top with club soda and garnish:

    Top cocktail with seltzer. Garnish with a lemon wheel and cherry flag. Serve.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
352 Calories
2g Fat
70g Carbs
7g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1
Amount per serving
Calories 352
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 2g 3%
Saturated Fat 0g 1%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 20mg 1%
Total Carbohydrate 70g 26%
Dietary Fiber 19g 68%
Total Sugars 24g
Protein 7g
Vitamin C 359mg 1,797%
Calcium 185mg 14%
Iron 4mg 23%
Potassium 954mg 20%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.