How Not to Make a Tom Collins

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Okay, look. I’m going to preface this by saying that I’m trying to be a kinder, gentler version of myself. You’ve seen me tear apart other bartenders here and here for teaching people how to make shitty drinks. Because it genuinely offends me to see people irresponsibly teach others when it’s so, so easy to make a good drink instead of a bad one.

Reader Michael sent along this video recently, and rather than just make fun of it, I thought I’d try something new and provide some helpful advice.

So yeah, it’s pretty terrible. But let’s break down why:

  1. An ounce of gin is just not enough. That makes for a really weak drink. Think of it this way: If a normal cocktail is between an ounce and a half (45 ml) and two ounces (60 ml), then that drink is 25-50% too weak.
  2. A half ounce of lemon juice is okay, but it certainly only works if you’re using a tiny amount of gin. Otherwise it’s just not enough. More gin + more lemon juice = more flavor.
  3. Speaking of lemon juice – it’s not that hard to get some juice out of a lemon. So why bother with pre-squeezed, pasteurized, shelf-stable lemon juice from the grocery store?
  4. A whole ounce of simple syrup makes for an incredibly sweet drink, especially when you set it up against a mere tablespoon of lemon juice. This drink is wildly out of balance.
  5. Six ounces or whatever that was of soda water. So now you’ve got a pint glass full of barely any gin, a shit ton of soda, and a shit ton of sugar with a splash of lemon juice.
  6. Reusing the ice you just shook the cocktail with (this is commonly called a “pump and dump”) is for nightclubs. Not cocktail bars. We shake with ice, and then strain over fresh, cold ice. It makes for a much fresher, colder cocktail.
  7. Could you please measure? Your free pouring is terrible. I’m all for free pouring if you know what you’re doing, but in this case she does not.
  8. Also the opening logo makes this look like a porno. Okay, I’m done, sorry.

I’ve written a couple of articles about how to properly make a Tom Collins over the years, so check them out.

Here’s one I wrote for Playboy Magazine back in 2014.

And here’s one I wrote for Food Republic in 2015.

11 Replies to “How Not to Make a Tom Collins”

  • mike says:

    I make my comment in relations to How to not make a Collins Mix.
    How to not make such is to NOT USE CARBONATED WATER.

    Could the carbonated water use have something to do with why Canady Dry chose to discontinue the “Collins Mix” ? But then I now see other strange, somewhat intended options that Canada Dry wanted ?to replace as? But there are customers know the sugar & sourness ration won’t match.
    NOW, I must find how to make my own.

  • Silky says:

    That bottle she poured Lemon juice out of, looked like that constitute brand. Also, noticed she didn’t strain AND pour over fresh ice. Just sayin’

  • Guy says:

    How to make a Tom Collins (Recipe): boobs

    and some ice and soda and… I’m staring at her cleavage again. Dammit!

  • Michael says:

    Nope. Montreal. But the reasoning may be accurate regardless.

  • Tony says:

    This must be a Miami bar. The drinks are bullshit and you’re paying to look at her tits cuz you’re not get much from the drinks.

  • Greg says:

    Kevin sounds like a bartender I never want making me a drink. The drink has citrus juice – hence you shake it. Amateur Hour Kevin.

  • CJ says:

    Reading through your linked articles, I’m about why you suggest adding the soda to the shaker before straining. It seems like that would cause it lose more carbonation. Why not add the soda directly to the glass?

    • It’s kind of six-of-one/half-a-dozen-of-another. You’re not going to lose that much carbonation if you add it to the shaker after shaking the drink. You can add it to the glass, and I sometimes do, but you’ve just got to make sure you add it to the glass before you strain the drink in there, before you add the final ice to the drink. Which might seem like you’d lose a little carbonation that way as well, but the most important thing is making sure the soda water is uniformly distributed throughout the drink. Which is why I never recommend simply adding it to the top.

  • Kevin says:

    You don’t shake Tom Collins, 6-8 is useless. Also use equal parts sweet and sour for a better balance (obviously) and third you sound like a bitchy customer I wouldn’t want at the bar. Healthy criticism is better.

  • Dave says:

    Not sure if this voluptuous video attracts actual cocktail enthusiasts… X-D
    Thanks for the pointers, Jeffrey. Good to know that there are others out there keeping the quality bar for cocktails at a proper height. And yes, it’s really not that difficult to make a good cocktail.

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