Nationwide Bartender Re-Education Program: The Tom Collins

In an effort to not only throw hate into the universe, I have started a Bartender Reeducation Program. If you’re not familiar with this act of charitable giving, check out this explanatory blog post.

Many friends and readers got back to me on the Daiquiri Bartender Reeducation Program.  Some stories came back heartfelt like, ”The bartender was confused, but we were both happy with the cocktail.” Others came back with a more scathing stories like, “The damn thing came out clear as a bell, and it was only rum.”  I even think someone tested me and ordered an, “Aged rum Daiquiri” with “your favorite aged rum.”  He was only able to drink half of the Navy-strength Smith & Cross Daiquiri, but I loved making it and he liked the half that he could handle. So? A mixed bag was the outcome at best, but it’s getting us back on the path of good drinks everywhere.

This month I thought it would be wise to make July’s reeducation drink even easier and feature a Tom Collins.

Some time in July go into a bar with a television and ask the human standing behind the bar, “Can I get a Tom Collins? You know, just gin and soda with a squeeze of lemon, and a dash of sugar.”

The Tom Collins is a dusty feature in every bar book and worthy of being poured from pitchers in hot summer months.  It is also a testament to how far the bar business has fallen that Tom Collins mix is still available.

'Cause I can't even squeeze a fucking lemon

I was in the grocery store yesterday listening to a group of newly minted 21 year olds try to figure out what to mix with vodka for their Fourth of July festivities. Had I been in my bartender costume I would have steered them to the produce section for lemons, we would have found ice, sugar and soda and they would have a great holiday.  But, bereft of my contact lenses, I stood there as Clark Kent and let them buy Redbull.

Tom Collins is easy enough for anyone to become friends with.  The way I see it, there are really only two key steps to getting it right.

  1. Use a Collins glass: Effervescent drinks need to stay bubbling, and a tall glass that pushes perlage up is key number one.
  2. Fill the glass completely with ice: The Tom Collins needs to be undiluted and ice cold, so as much ice as you can get into the glass is key number two.

Other than those two key steps, the Tom Collins is just a simple mix of Gin, Lemon Juice, Sugar and Soda Water.  Really couldn’t be easier, add the ingredients any way you like, go light on the lemon and sugar to let the Gin shine.

The mythos of the Collins is assumed to be from mixing up Old Tom Gin with the very fancy new invention of the time: soda water.  And, in doing so, it created a template that works with every spirit.

Here is a list of the more common variations on the template:

Vodka Collins or Comrade Collins — with vodka — Ostrovia!

Tom Collins — with gin — Cheers!

Brandy Collins (I call this one Jacque)  — with cognac — A Votre Sante!

Juan or José Collins — with tequila — Salud!

Jack Collins — with applejack — Have a wicked pissah!

John Collins — with bourbon — Yee Haw!

Michael Collins — with Irish-whisky — Guild Forder!

Ron Collins — with rum — Fuck Embargos!

Sandy Collins — with Scotch-whisky — Slàinte!

Phil Collins — with 7-Up or Sprite. It is a mocktail — SusuSudio!

Jallu Collins — with jaloviina —  Opa!

Here is a list of variations I made up:

Jin Collins —  with sake — Kampai!

Erik Collins — with akavit —  Skol!

Jonah Collins – with Manischewitz —  L’Chaim!
For the record, Jonah Collins is legit if you omit the extra sugar.

Lastly a note on garnish, do so.  At least get a cherry in this thing, I like to add and orange too even though a lemon would be more traditional. To avoid flashbacks to college try using a good gin. You’ll find a whole new drink.

This entry was posted in Bartender Re-Education Plan, Cocktails, Gin and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Nationwide Bartender Re-Education Program: The Tom Collins

  1. SG says:

    cracked up over the various combo names :) Happy 4th, andrew!

  2. Down with the Erik Collins! Aquavit for the win.

  3. oban89 says:

    Erik Collins? Shouldn’t have been the Anders Collins? Either way I can’t wait to tryt one.

  4. LarryB says:

    OK, I’m gonna ask the stupid question – what ratios do you suggest as a starting point? I checked my go-to cocktail book, and it says 3/4 oz lemon juice, 1 oz simple syrup, 1 1/2 oz gin. Good baseline, or too much lemon and sugar?

    The book also suggests shaking over ice before pouring over ice. Heresy, or a good idea?

    I’m going to give this a shot tonight and see how it goes.

    • LarryB says:

      And the verdict (at least for me, is 1/2 oz each lemon and simple syrup to 1 1/2 oz gin. Also, Ebb & Flow works very nicely for this.

  5. Jess says:

    Nice work with that caption.

  6. Bri L says:

    I think a Vodka Collins is my drink of choice when I go out to bars. I’m just a little confused because whenever I order it, it’s got some grenadine in it everywhere I go. The only exception was this bar in Milwaukee where the bartender had to look it up and it tasted nothing like what I get in Metro Minnesota area. I want to make this drink for myself so I looked up the recipe. The part I’m confused about is that no recipe online has some sort of maraschino cherry juice (I’ve seen a bartender do the once) or grenadine in the Vodka Collins. So what? Is everything bartender in my area making it wrong? Or am I not ordering a true Vodka Collins?

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