Classic cocktail Tom Collins named after a popular joke.
The Tom Collins is a cocktail made with gin, lemon juice, sugar syrup and plain soda water. People have enjoying this refreshing drink for well over 125 years. But do you know the story behind this classic cocktail?
A gin-based drink called a John Collins existed since about 1860 and is believed to have been created by the head waiter of the same name at a restaurant in London. However the name was changed in a recipe book printed 16 years late. In 1874 there was a common joke in New York and other places around the country that involved telling someone that a man named Tom Collins was saying bad things about them. They would start the conversation asking, “Have you seen Tom Collins?” and go on to tell the person that he was in a nearby bar or other business talking badly about them. The goal was to upset that person enough that they would go looking for this fictional man. The joke gained notoriety and became known as the Tom Collins Hoax of 1874. The first Tom Collins recipe was printed in the 1876 book The Bartenders’ Guide by Jerry Thomas, who is known as the father of American mixology. Thomas was based in New York and it is believed that he changed the name of the drink for John to Tom due to the hoax. By 1878 the drink had grown popular and was being served in bars in New York City and around the country.