Tomfoolery Collins

Tomfoolery Collins, our interpretation of a Tom Collins - The Tom Collins is the lesser-known classic gin highball, and in our opinion the better drink. Its basically a sour topped with soda.

The Tom Collins has a long history. The first published recipe appears to be in Harry Johnson's "Bartender's Manual", the recipe calls for the use of Old Tom Gin. This is where things get interesting:

There are three main types or styles of gin: Holland Gin (Jenever), Old Tom Gin, and Dry Gin. Each of these has had its era, and back in the late 1800s and early 1900s Old Tom and Holland Gin (Jenever) would have been more common than today's dry gins. Old Tom Gin, was a sweetened gin, with a heavier botanical bill than modern dry gins, this was used to mask the flavour of poor distillation, prior to the invention of the modern stills we use today.

Back to the Story, in the "Bartender's Manual", recipes exist for both a John Collins and a Tom Collins, John Collins is made with Holland Gin and the Tom Collins is made with Old Tom Gin. In 1887 Jerry "Professor" Thomas describes three Tom Collins, Whisky Tom Collins, Brandy Tom Collins and Gin Tom Collins.
There are then several further mentions of the Tom Collins in the early 1900s however, our favourite has to be in "Cocktail" Boothby's "The World's Drinks and How to Mix Them":
Proceed the same as in making a John Collins but use Old Tom gin instead of Holland.
Take the largest glass procurable and place a good size piece of ice in it. Set this in front of the customer with a bottle of Holland gin at his right hand so he can serve himself to the gin. Then take a large mixing-glass and put in it the juice of two lemons, a heaping tablespoonful of bar sugar, and dissolve this in part of a bottle of plain soda; pour into the large glass of gin and ice. fill up the glass with the balance of the plain soda, stir and serve. Many bartenders make a regular Gin Fizz and serve it for a John Collins; but this recipe is standard and is highly recommended as a morning bracer after a night of dissipation."

There are several take aways from this, firstly, why is this still not served, secondly while described as "standard" it appears to be the only recipe of its type. "Stuart's Fancy Drinks and How to Mix Them" in 1904 and "Modern American Drinks" in 1906, along with both "Bartender's Manual" and Jerry Thomas' "Bar-Tender's Guide" all have recipes for making what would be closer to a Gin Fizz, albeit, with Old Tom Gin. The Gin Fizz debate is for another day!

2 Shots (60ml) Foolish Gin
5/6 Shot (25ml) Fresh Lemon Juice
2/3 Shot (20ml) Sugar Syrup (2:1)
2 Shots (60ml) Soda Water
SHAKE the first three ingredients with ice.
STRAIN into an ice-filled Collins or Highball Glass.
TOP with soda water and STIR briefly.