When I was young (oh so young, and foolish may I add) I thought a Tom Collins = Gin + Sour Mix. Now, for the sake of not calling any one bartender out or any one specific bar tending school whose manual spelled out a Tom Collins as such I will let them go nameless in the hope that its not too late to right their wrongs and make an honest Tom Collins.
Firstly, the drink hails from the late 19th century, first appearing in an 1876 publication by the name of The Bartender’s Guide which spelled out the recipe as followed: Juice of One Lemon 5 to 6 dashes of Gum Syrup 1 “wine glass” of gin Soda “until lively.”
Despite nearly a century’s worth of time passing, the drink has managed to the modern day roughly unchanged, though variations do exist. For the average kitchen, superfine sugar makes an acceptable substitute. Though most recipes specify sugar/simple syrup. Though as you’ll notice, many of these recipes call for some additional fruit. Maraschino cherries are the most commonly cited for garnish, and followed in a near second by orange slice.