Tom Collins was Trash Talking your Wife! He just left, though…

The original purpose of a Tom Collins, according to Robin Williams’ bartender-clone, was to get an obnoxious drunk out of a bar.  Bartender goes up to Mr. Obnoxious and says something to get him riled up –“I heard Tom Collins called your wife a tramp”, etc – and when Mr. O demands to know where Tom is, he gets told that he just left, was headed to the next pub down the way.  Bartender gets a round of applause for getting rid of Mr. O.

used for squishing things in the bottom of a glass, or whacking obnoxious people in the head

  Mr. O barges into pub two, demands to know where Tom Collins is, and gets told by that Wiley bartender that he just left, and went to the next pub down the way.  This carries on, until the last pub that he goes to, and when he demands to know where Tom Collins is, the bartender makes him a Tom Collins, and tells him to sit down and shut up.  Theoretically, Mr. O then realises how obnoxious he is/has been, and settles down to be quiet for the rest of the evening, having learned his lesson and acquired a very tasty beverage.  The next time, some other bar gets stuck with the latest Mr. O, so that the same place doesn’t always have to put up with having an obnoxious patron. 

a Highball Glass
  Why anyone would give an obnoxious person such a tasty drink is beyond me, but, as a refreshing beverage at the end of a long hike, a Tom Collins fits the bill.

Bartender-Williams made us two versions of this, and they’re nearly identical, with one simple twist that really really makes the second version so much better, in my opinion.  For their similarity, however, I’m just going to write out the second version, and say what shouldn’t be included if you want to make a more original Tom Collins.  But do try the second one once, just to see the difference. 

 TC1 = Tom Collins

TC2 = Cucumber Tom Collins

bar spoon, also great for stealing soup out of other peoples' bowls

Tom Collins


1 oz Gin

1 oz simple syrup (or 2 tsp white sugar)

1 lemon (juice of)

2 – 3 oz soda

1 inch of cucumber, cut into quarters (this is the ingredient that you can leave out to make TC1)


despite how the lemon juicer looks, the lemon goes open-end down, so that it is open to the straining holes at the bottom. I've been doing it wrong for years. Robin Bartender Williams is a genius. RBW the genius also recommends that if you go out and buy one of these, make sure to get the metal one. It's a bit more money, but it will last you, where the plastic ones won't. Mine just has the lemon shape, but you can get the ones that have both the lemon and lime shapes to them.

1 – (TC2 only) – cut and rinse your cucumber pieces, and put in the bottom of a tall glass (also known as a Highball glass).  Use a musher to lightly squish the cucumber.  I don’t have a musher, and don’t have space in my kitchen for any extraneous single-purpose cutlery, so I used a wooden spoon to smoosh down on my cucumber.  All you need is something with a kind of blunt end so use your imagination for it.

2 – fill your glass ‘3 over’ with ice

3 –In no particular order, juice one lemon into your cup and add your Gin, and simple syrup, or sugar

NOTE: One suggestion RBW gave us was to heat a lime for 15 seconds in the microwave in order to get more juice out of it.  I applied this concept to the lemons I used as well, and it seemed to work out well as well.  Regardless, a refrigerator-temperature lemon or lime will produce the least juice, and a slightly microwaved one will produce the most.  This is not a constantly increasing scale… if you over-microwave your citrus, it might produce a lot of juice, but that juice will be sprayed all over the inside of your microwave, and useless, because that fruit has exploded.

the final product... it seems I might not have used enough ice, but it still tastes delicious

4 – If you have enough ice in there, you should be able to just top up the drink with soda.  It should require around 2 to 3 oz of soda, though the recipe I was given called for 2. 

5 – use your tall bartending spoon to stir the drink, or let the person you made it for stir it.  For those of us without the inclination to own a long skinny spoon, a chopstick works quite well.  The idea is that you don’t want to break up the ice, so you stir around the outside without jostling the ice over-much.  If you’re making TC2, you can try to make your pieces of cucumber come up a bit to mix with the drink, to make it look pretty.

I highly recommend trying TC2… the cucumber adds this crisp fresh taste to it that makes me picture rocking in a hammock by the dock at sunset. 

Simple Syrup

A quick explanation of how to make your own simple syrup – mix equal parts white sugar and water in a resealable container.  There is no need to heat (and heating will likely tinge it a bit brown, which will then tinge all your drinks a bit brown), the sugar will absorb into the water on its own, or with a bit of a shake.  I had mine in an empty honey container until I realised that there was a slit in the side of the container.  The slit explains why my entire counter was sticky by the time I finished making drinks for everyone.




  1. Not big on gin, but willing to try. Thanks for sharing!

    • I wasn’t big on it either before trying this drink… always thought it tasted/smelled vaguely of cedar and cleaning chemicals… but this has overtopped whiskey sour in terms of top drinks for me 🙂

  2. Me and Tom get along just fine. I don’t care for GIN, but let me tell you, this on a hot summer day…it’s common to have a marachino cherry in the states. I don’t know if it absorbs the alcohol(?) anyway, drink it, and then eat the cherry! YUM!

    Lake Forest, California USA

    • a cherry would make it even more delicious… but I doubt a stock of marachino cherries in our fridge would last long enough to add one to a drink!

  3. Tom Collins was the first cocktail I ever ordered when I turned 21. I was in a casino in Reno (but not playing Keno) and didn’t even know what was in it, but wanted to sound sophisticated. I’ll have to try your recipe here…I’ve made them before, but never with cucumber!

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