When we think about summertime cocktails, tiki drinks are some of the first that come to mind. Many require multiple bottles of spirits, and various juices and liqueurs, and they can be somewhat more time-consuming to layer and build. That goes against the entire philosophy of spending a lazy evening on the porch, or wiling away an afternoon at a barbecue, especially if you’ve put a lot of time into the food. For our money, and our overwhelming dedication to the good old-fashioned American value of relaxation, it’s the Tom Collins that we want in hand during the warm months. An early published recipe for the cocktail dates to the foundational 1876 “The Bartender’s Guide,” by Jerry Thomas. Almost 150 years of history can’t be wrong.
As with many cocktails with such a lengthy history, there’s often debate about the exact origin of a recipe and its name. Whether it was from a 19th-century London waiter named John Collins known for his gin punch, then altered when Old Tom gin started being used more regularly, or from a popular bar hoax at the time, depends on which boozy historian you read.