Topo Top-off

Try This Tom Collins Recipe at Your Next Summer Picnic

This cocktail is the perfect kick-off for a fun afternoon.

By Timothy Malcolm Published in the June 2020 issue of Houstonia Magazine

Whether preparing for your picnic or winding down the day, mixing a drink is easy as 1.5 ounces spirit, 0.75 ounces citrus, 0.5 ounces sweetener, and 3 ounces of sparkling water. Kristine Nguyen of Cantina Barba loves the Tom Collins because it adheres to that formula and is an indisputably versatile libation.

“You can switch out your ingredients for that cocktail,” says Nguyen. “I use that recipe a lot for the everyday drinker, and I feel like it can accommodate any kind of drinker.”

The traditional Tom Collins contains gin, lemon juice, sugar, and carbonated water, but play with the drink’s components to your heart’s content—say, using orange juice instead of lemon juice for a sweeter punch. (Nguyen recommends Topo Chico for the bubbles, though.) However you opt to pull it together, you’ll get a refreshing, bright cocktail for summer—perfect for your tumbler.


  • 1–1.5 oz gin
  • 3/4 oz lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz simple sugar
  • 3 oz carbonated water
  • 1 c ice, plus more for the glass


  1. Fill tall glass halfway with ice.
  2. Combine ingredients in a shaker, then shake until chilled.
  3. Strain into glass.
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