Top 6 Gins for Making a Tom Collins

A Tom Collins is a simple yet refreshing drink making the rounds in bars since the 19th century. It’s thought that the Tom Collins started as a standard gin punch that was a popular drink.

Cocktail tom collins, a classic drink recipe with gin, lemon juice and sugar syrup

One barkeep began to name the drink after himself to make it easier to order. His name? John Collins. 

Unfortunately for John, the gin used for a Tom Collins was often Old Tom Gin. Over time, patrons started to call the cocktail a Tom Collins. 

The classic drink is easy to make and is a recommended cocktail for beginner mixologists to try at home as it doesn’t require any special tools.

A Tom Collins is simply 2 ounces of gin, 1 ounce of lemon juice, and 1/2 ounce of simple syrup, all topped with a bit of club soda. You can even garnish with a little bit of lemon and a cherry. 

If you want to try this drink yourself, I have gathered a list of the six best gins to make a Tom Collins. 

Bombay London Dry Gin

Bombay is a perfect place to start if you are looking for a traditional London gin with a solid juniper-forward taste.

Bombay swears by a vapor steaming method for their botanicals when making their gin. 

This, rather than boiling, extracts every drop of flavor from their botanicals, creating an intense, smooth experience with a dry finish.

Those botanicals include cassia bark, coriander, angelica root, lemon peel, orris root, almonds, and juniper berries. 

Bombay is one of my favorite options for a Tom Collins, thanks to that traditional juniper flavor that makes me feel like I’m sitting in one of the bars of the late 1800s. 

Beefeater London Dry Gin

Few gins have won as many awards as Beefeater. While they have a variety of flavored gins, their London Dry is everything you would want in a Tom Collins gin.

It is deliciously dry with a bold juniper taste and intense citrus. 

This gin is made from nine different botanicals, including the quintessential juniper, lemon, orange, almond, angelica root, coriander, angelica seed, orris root, and licorice root. 

I think that this is a perfect option if you still want that classic Tom collins experience with a more robust citrus kick. 

Plymouth Original Gin

Plymouth is an older gin brand that has been operating in Plymouth, Devon since 1793.

The production site of the distillery has actually been standing since 1431, and is believed to have been a Dominican monastery before the gin company took over.

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Plymouth has a smooth, dry taste. This gin does not have as strong a juniper-forward taste, so this may be the perfect option if you want a Tom Collins that doesn’t taste like a Christmas tree. 

I also love the earthy notes of coriander, orange, lemon, angelica root, green cardamom, and orris root among the juniper. 

Hayman’s Old Tom Gin

Since 1863, Hayman’s has been the gin of London. This is the gin that the Tom Collins was named for.

If you are looking for the ultimate authentic Tom Collins, then look no further than this gin. Some would even argue that if you’re not using Old Tom, it’s not a Tom Collins at all.

I don’t make that argument – but I do admit there’s something special about making a Tom Collins so authentically.

Hayman’s is described as delicate, rich, and versatile. This gin is slightly sweet as opposed to the traditional London Dry varieties.

Aside from the light juniper taste, there are also notes of citrus to really make this gin come alive yet not overwhelm the senses. 

Tanqueray Gin

Tanqueray has been voted again and again as the best gin for a gin and tonic. But what about a Tom Collins?

This classic gin has a perfect balance of citrus and juniper to make it a favorite among mixologists. Little wonder that it keeps winning awards.

It’s the balance in this gin that makes it perfect for mixing cocktails. 

I’ve made many a Tanqueray Tom Collins for friends of mine – and I’ve yet to hear a complaint! For your next Tom Collins, you really can’t go wrong with this choice. 

The Botanist 

This Scottish-made gin is a loving blend of 22 botanicals, foraged by hand from the local landscape.

It is a song of appreciation towards the Isle of Islay, where the Botanist is distilled.

The wide array of botanicals used for this gin is what really sets it apart from the others. The flowers are used to make the gin herbaceous, floral, and sweeter than the average gin. 

While I won’t list out all 22 botanicals, some of them include: apple mint, elderflower, meadowsweet, white clover, and wood sage.

And when I say hand foraged, I mean hand foraged.

They have a couple of foragers who pick every leaf, bloom, and berry by hand, only taking what they need to make the gin. This level of dedication goes above and beyond. 

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All of the different botanicals create a gin that’s well-rounded and perfect for a Tom Collins. 

One Comment

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  1. Sure these gins are all excellent choices for various reasons, but restricting oneself to old brands means forgoing the many excellent regional gins that feature botanicals from specific regions, which is the main reason I now love gin.

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Written by Brian Nagele

Brian attended West Virginia University, then started his career in the IT industry before following his passion for marketing and hospitality. He has over 20 years experience in the restaurant and bar industry.

As a former restaurant owner, he knows about running a food business and loves to eat and enjoy cocktails on a regular basis. He constantly travels to new cities tasting and reviewing the most popular spots.

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