Gin Fizz vs Tom Collins: What’s the Difference?

  • By: BT Staff
  • Date: January 25, 2024
  • Time to read: 10 min.

From the vibrant streets of New Orleans to the bustling pubs of London, the classic cocktails Gin Fizz and Tom Collins have delighted palates for centuries. With their refreshing taste and elegant presentation, these gin-based cocktails have a fascinating history and a plethora of variations to suit every occasion. But what sets them apart in the world of “gin fizz vs tom collins”? Join us on a journey to uncover the subtle differences, the shared allure, and the creative twists of these two iconic drinks.

Key Takeaways

  • Gin Fizz and Tom Collins have distinct ingredients, preparation techniques, flavour profiles, origins & histories.
  • Glassware and garnishes contribute to the presentation of both cocktails. Popular variations include Ramos Gin Fizz & Sloe Gin Fizz for the former and John Collins & Gin Rickey for the latter.
  • Enjoyment of these drinks is varied according to personal taste or regional customs, e.g., a morning refreshment with Gin Fizz or sweet lunchtime companion with Tom Collins.

Gin Fizz and Tom Collins: A Side-by-Side Comparison

Gin Fizz and Tom Collins may share a gin-based foundation, but these two cocktails stand distinct in their own right. Both drinks have a harmonious blend of sweet and sour flavours, yet their unique ingredients and preparation techniques set them apart. From the creamy, frothy texture of Gin Fizz to the sweet, sour, and slightly bitter taste of Tom Collins, these classic cocktails offer a world of nuanced delight for the discerning drinker.

With their illustrious history and diverse variations, Gin Fizz and Tom Collins have transcended time and borders, becoming the epitome of cocktail culture. We’ll explore these two cherished concoctions side by side, investigating their ingredients, preparation, and presentation, unearthing the nuances that elevate each to the status of a beloved classic.

Ingredients Breakdown

At the heart of both Gin Fizz and Tom Collins lies a shared base of gin, lemon juice, and sugar syrup. However, egg whites and soda water in Gin Fizz create a distinctive frothy texture, setting it apart from its Tom Collins counterpart, which utilizes club soda for a more refreshing feel. While both cocktails can be crafted with various types of gin, the choice of gin can greatly influence the final flavour profile, with floral gins often recommended for Tom Collins and classic gins like Tanqueray or Beefeater favoured for Gin Fizz.

Although including egg whites in Gin Fizz is optional, many variations call for this ingredient to achieve a rich and creamy texture. Some even incorporate egg yolk or both egg whites and yolks, resulting in the Golden Fizz and Royal Fizz variations, respectively. On the other hand, the Tom Collins maintains its simplicity and refreshing character with just the base ingredients and club soda.

Preparation Techniques

The preparation techniques of Gin Fizz and Tom Collins further differentiate these two cocktails.

Looking for a refreshing cocktail? Try this Gin Fizz recipe! To create the signature frothy texture of Gin Fizz, the ingredients are shaken vigorously with ice. Some variations, like the Golden Fizz, even include egg yolks for an added richness. Once shaken, the mixture is strained into a chilled rocks glass filled with ice cubes and topped off with club soda.

In contrast, the Tom Collins is prepared by:

  • Stirring the ingredients together
  • Serving it over ice in a Collins glass
  • Combining gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup
  • Topping it with club soda for a more invigorating experience

Both cocktails can be garnished with a lemon slice or wedge to enhance their citrusy aroma and flavour.

Flavor Profiles and Textures

The flavour profiles and textures of Gin Fizz and Tom Collins are where these two cocktails truly diverge.

The Gin Fizz offers:

  • A creamy, frothy texture
  • A perfect balance of sweetness and sourness
  • Combination of gin, lemon juice, sugar syrup, and egg whites
  • Effervescence and a light, refreshing quality from the soda water

These flavours and textures pair beautifully to create a delicious and refreshing drink.

On the other hand, Tom Collins provides a sweet, sour, and slightly bitter taste. The classic combination of gin, lemon juice, sugar syrup, and club soda creates a smooth and invigorating drink that is perfect for sipping on a warm day or as a palate cleanser during a meal. The simplicity and crispness of the Tom Collins have made it a popular choice among cocktail enthusiasts for generations.

Origins and History of Gin Fizz and Tom Collins

Not only do Gin Fizz and Tom Collins differ in their ingredients and preparation, but they also boast unique origins that have shaped their respective histories. The Gin Fizz, a New Orleans classic, gained popularity in the late 19th century and remains a beloved drink in the city today.

Meanwhile, the history of Tom Collins is shrouded in mystery, with its roots tracing back to London and a possible connection to a 19th-century hoax. We’ll unravel the captivating histories of these two iconic cocktails.

Gin Fizz: New Orleans Classic

The Gin Fizz finds its origins in the vibrant city of New Orleans, where it was first mentioned in Jerry Thomas’s 1876 cookbook, Bartender’s Guide, as a variation of the Sours family of cocktails. Jerry Thomas, often called the father of American mixology, helped popularize cocktails throughout the United States, and the Gin Fizz quickly became a New Orleans speciality.

The cocktail’s fame continued to grow thanks to Henry C. Ramos, who invented the Gin Fizz in 1888 at the Imperial Cabinet Saloon. The delicious taste and creamy texture of the Gin Fizz made it an instant hit with patrons, and the drink’s popularity continued to expand over the years.

Today, the Gin Fizz is still celebrated as a traditional New Orleans cocktail, with variations like the Ramos Gin Fizz, which includes cream and orange flower water, remaining popular choices.

Tom Collins: The London Connection

On the other hand, the Tom Collins has a more mysterious history, with its origins often debated among cocktail enthusiasts. Some sources suggest the cocktail was named after John Collins, a bartender at London’s famous Limmer’s Hotel, while others attribute its invention to a popular 19th-century hoax in New York. Regardless of its exact origin, the Tom Collins has become an enduring classic, celebrated for its refreshing taste and elegant presentation.

The London influence on the Tom Collins is evident in its use of London dry gin as its base spirit, a close relative to the Old Tom gin. Over the years, the Tom Collins has become a staple at bars and social gatherings worldwide, with countless variations and twists on the classic recipe.

Whether you believe it was created by a London bartender or inspired by a New York joke, one thing is certain: the Tom Collins has earned its place in the pantheon of iconic cocktails.

Glassware and Garnishes: Presentation Matters

The presentation of Gin Fizz and Tom Collins plays a crucial role in enhancing the visual appeal and overall experience of these two classic cocktails. The choice of glassware and garnishes adds to their beauty and affects how the drinks are perceived and enjoyed.

We’ll examine the specific glassware and garnishes that distinguish Gin Fizz and Tom Collins from other cocktails.

Gin Fizz: Tall and Frothy

The Gin Fizz is typically served in a tall glass with a frothy top, often adorned with a lemon slice or cherry. The tall glass is crucial in maintaining the carbonation and preventing the drink from being affected by the warmth of one’s hand. The slender top of the glass also helps preserve the effervescence of the cocktail, ensuring a refreshing and delightful sip every time.

To achieve the characteristic frothy top of a Gin Fizz, the following steps are followed:

  1. Add the egg white to the cocktail shaker.
  2. Shake the cocktail shaker vigorously.
  3. The carbonation from the soda water also contributes to the frothy foam.
  4. Carefully pour the frothy mixture into the glass to create the perfect balance of flavour and texture.

Adding a lemon twist or wedge and a sprinkle of ground nutmeg as a garnish adds a touch of citrusy aroma and warmth, further elevating this classic cocktail.

Tom Collins: Refreshing and Inviting

The Tom Collins, in contrast, is presented in a Collins glass or served over ice, with optional fruit garnishes to add a touch of colour and flavour. The tall, slim Collins glass is ideal for refreshing cocktails like the Tom Collins, allowing the drink to be served with ice and topped with a carbonated element for a stimulating and visually appealing presentation.

Aside from the traditional lemon wedge and cherry garnish, other suitable garnishes for a Tom Collins include a lemon slice or wedge, an orange slice, and a maraschino cherry. These garnishes enhance the drink’s visual appeal and add an extra layer of flavour and aroma, making the Tom Collins a refreshing and inviting choice for any occasion.

Popular Variations of Gin Fizz and Tom Collins

Tom Collins and Gin Fizz in a bar

Both Gin Fizz and Tom Collins have a myriad of variations that demonstrate these beloved cocktails’ creativity and adaptability. Some popular variations include:

  • Raspberry Gin Fizz
  • Elderflower Gin Fizz
  • Blueberry Tom Collins
  • Strawberry Tom Collins
  • Coconut Gin Fizz
  • Lavender Tom Collins

From fruity twists to rich and creamy renditions, there’s a version of Gin Fizz or Tom Collins to suit every palate.

We’ll delve into some of the most popular variations of these classic drinks, demonstrating the creativity of mixologists around the globe.

Ramos Gin Fizz, Sloe Gin Fizz, and More

Among the many variations of Gin Fizz, the Ramos Gin Fizz stands out as a luxurious twist on the classic recipe. By adding cream and orange flower water to the mix, this variation offers a more intricate flavour profile and a rich, velvety texture. Additionally, the Ramos Gin Fizz often includes lemon and lime juice, simple syrup, and egg whites, further enhancing its creamy and frothy character.

Another popular variation is the Sloe Gin Fizz, which incorporates sloe gin for a fruity taste. This variation is prepared by:

  1. Combining sloe gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker with ice
  2. Shaking well
  3. Straining the mixture into a glass
  4. Topping the drink with club soda
  5. Garnishing with a lemon wedge

This results in a delicious and refreshing twist on the classic Gin Fizz.

Tom Collins Twists: Gin Rickey, John Collins, and Beyond

The Tom Collins also boasts numerous variations, such as the Gin Rickey, which replaces sugar syrup with lime juice for a tart and zesty flavour. This refreshing cocktail is believed to have been invented in the late 19th century by D.C. lobbyist Joe Rickey and remains a popular choice in Washington, D.C., where it is considered the city’s official cocktail.

Another intriguing Tom Collins variation is the John Collins, which swaps gin for bourbon or whiskey. This substitution results in a distinct flavour profile, featuring the richness and sweetness of bourbon instead of the botanical notes of gin found in the classic Tom Collins.

With these creative twists and countless others, the Tom Collins continues to inspire mixologists and delight drinkers worldwide.

Enjoying Gin Fizz and Tom Collins: When and Where?

Gin Fizz and Tom Collins are versatile cocktails that can be enjoyed at different times and occasions, depending on personal preferences and regional customs. From morning refreshments to pre-dinner delights, these two drinks, along with Tom Gin, have earned their place as beloved classics in the world of mixology.

We’ll discover when and where Gin Fizz and Tom Collins are typically savored, and how these adaptable cocktails have ingrained themselves into drinking culture.

Gin Fizz: Morning Refreshment and Pre-Dinner Delight

In Europe, the Gin Fizz is often enjoyed as:

  • a morning pick-me-up
  • a pre-dinner aperitif
  • a midday or mid-afternoon break
  • a refreshing option on warm days

Its bright, floral, and soothing qualities make it a popular choice. The inclusion of rose water or orange blossom water adds an aromatic element that further contributes to its popularity as a morning beverage.

As a pre-dinner aperitif, the Gin Fizz serves to whet the appetite and prepare the palate for the flavours of the upcoming meal. Combining gin, citrus, and carbonation creates a refreshing and invigorating drink that helps arouse the appetite. With its versatility and timeless appeal, the Gin Fizz has established itself as a classic cocktail with enduring popularity.

Tom Collins: A Sweet Lunchtime Companion

The Tom Collins is a popular lunchtime drink due to its sweetness and refreshing qualities. Its crisp and herbal flavour profile is derived from the combination of:

  • gin
  • lemon juice
  • sugar syrup
  • club soda

It makes it a delightful choice for daytime gatherings and events, such as parties, picnics, and brunches. The Tom Collins also pairs well with spicy foods, making it a versatile option for a variety of culinary occasions.

As a sweet and invigorating lunchtime companion, the Tom Collins has become a staple worldwide at bars and social events. Its classic recipe and refreshing taste have secured its place as a beloved cocktail that has transcended time and borders, making it a perfect choice for any daytime gathering or event.


From their unique origins to their diverse variations, Gin Fizz and Tom Collins have captured the hearts and palates of cocktail enthusiasts for generations. While they share a common foundation of gin, lemon juice, and sugar syrup, their differences in ingredients, preparation, and presentation set them apart, making each one a distinctive and enjoyable experience. Whether you prefer the creamy, frothy texture of Gin Fizz or the sweet, sour, and slightly bitter taste of Tom Collins, these classic cocktails offer a world of flavorful delight and timeless charm. So, raise a glass, and toast to the enduring allure of Gin Fizz and Tom Collins!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between Gin Fizz and Gin Collins?

Gin Fizz and Gin Collins differ in that the latter has an added ingredient of club soda, while the former does not.

What is the difference between Tom Collins and Sloe Gin Fizz?

Tom Collins cocktails are stirred and usually served over ice, whereas Sloe Gin Fizzes are shaken with ice and strained without ice, resulting in a well-chilled and foamy beverage.

What is the difference between Tom Collins and Gin Sour?

Tom Collins is essentially a gin sour with lemon juice instead of lime, served in a tall glass over ice and topped with soda water. However, when crafted well, Tom Collins is uniquely enjoyable in its own right.

What is the difference between Tom Collins and highball?

Tom Collins and highball glasses differ in shape and capacity; Tom Collins glasses are taller and larger in diameter, while highball glasses are slender, tall, and smaller in capacity.

What is the origin of Gin Fizz?

Gin Fizz has its roots in Jerry Thomas‘s 1876 cookbook and was later recognized as a New Orleans speciality in the early 1900s.