A well-made Tom Collins is bright, sweet, refreshing, and not too boozy, all of which make it one of our favorite cocktails for the summer months.
Its roots go way back to the early 19th century, where it was supposedly first mixed in a London hotel by a waiter named John Collins. The name somehow shifted from "John" to "Tom" as the drink got popular, and has been quenching thirsts ever since. The standard version is terrific on its own, but we like ours with a minty twist that adds to the refreshment and gives the recipe some homemade flair for when you want to impress guests.
If you want to be lazy, you could get a similar effect by using sugar instead of syrup and adding mint to your glass before you stir, but the flavor will be weaker and the drink will be nearly flat from all the stirring you'll need to do to dissolve the sugar.
Making the syrup is dead simple, and will supply you with much more than you'll need for that day's round. Put the excess into a bottle and leave it in the fridge -- it's versatile, and has a long shelf life.
For the mint syrup
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 cups water
- Large bunch of fresh mint
- Mix the sugar, water, and mint in a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil.
- Boil for ten minutes, stirring constantly, then turn the heat off. Let steep for an hour.
For the drink
- .5 oz mint syrup
- 1.5 oz gin
- Carbonated water
- 1 oz lemon juice
- Mint and lemon, to garnish
- Fill a collins glass with ice.
- Add the syrup, gin, and lemon juice.
- Top with carbonated water to taste. Stir.
- Garnish with a lemon twist and sprig of mint.