The Tom Collins cocktail has an interesting story behind this tried and true libation. The cocktail was named after a joke that was called the "The Great Tom Collins Hoax of 1894" in the New York and Philadelphia areas and it went something like this:
A man would approach his friend and ask, "Have you seen this Tom Collins?"
"Why no" the second man would say "I have never made his acquaintance."
"Perhaps you had better do so, and as quick as you can, for he is talking about you in a rough manner-calling you hard names, and convincing people there is nothing you wouldn't steal short of a red-hot stove."
Then the second man would storm off looking for this rascal Tom Collins.....but he doesn't exist!
Yep, it's silly, but it was an insult in 1874!
1 1/2 oz. Gin
1 oz. Lemon juice
1 tsp. sugar (or sugar syrup)
Mix sugar, gin and lemon juice over ice in a mixing glass, stir and strain into a collins glass* with ice and top with soda water. Garnish with lemon slices.
*Collins glass is a glass tumbler that is that normally contains 10-14 ounces.