John Collins Cocktail Recipe

By Timo Torner / Last updated on August 1, 2023

A John Collins is a sour and fizzy cocktail that is based on Gin, lemon juice, sugar, and soda water. The drink is traditionally served on ice in a narrow, tall glass.
John Collins cocktail garnished with lemon and cherry

What is now an entire family of cocktails once started with the gin-based John Collins. Allegedly, the drink was named after his creator, and it has inspired various riffs and even brought up the matching glassware and ice - the Collins glass and Collins stick, respectively.

Quick Facts John Collins Cocktail

  • Method: shaken
  • Flavor profile: refreshing, mild
  • How to serve it: over ice
  • Best glassware: Collins glass
  • Alcohol content: ~ 15% ABV, 19 grams of alcohol per serving

If you want to know how to make this Gin Cocktail to perfection and learn more about its history, you have come to the right place.

John Collins cocktail garnished with lemon and cherry on pick

John Collins Recipe

A sour and refreshing Gin cocktail served on ice.
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: British
Keyword: Gin
Servings: 1
Calories: 199kcal
Cost: $2.60


  • 1 Jigger
  • 1 Cocktail Shaker
  • 1 Hawthorne Strainer


  • 2 oz London Dry Gin
  • 0.75 oz Freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 0.5 oz Simple syrup
  • 1.5 oz Chilled soda water


  • Add the Gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup into your cocktail shaker with plenty of ice.
    2 oz London Dry Gin, 0.75 oz Freshly squeezed lemon juice, 0.5 oz Simple syrup
  • Shake until the drink is well-chilled and strain over ice into a Collins glass.
  • Top up with ice-cold soda water.
    1.5 oz Chilled soda water
  • Optionally garnish with citrus peel and Maraschino cherry.


Serving: 5ozCalories: 199kcalCarbohydrates: 7gSodium: 14.25mgPotassium: 62.25mgSugar: 7gVitamin C: 10.25mgCalcium: 21mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Ingredients & Recommendations

Collins Cocktails always follow the formula of base spirit, lemon, sweetener, and fizz. So, for a proper John Collins, you need:

  • Gin: The standard type of gin for this cocktail recipe is London Dry. You don't need to spend a fortune on it. For instance, affordable classics like Beefeater or a Tanqueray are excellent options.
  • Fresh lemon juice: The citrus juice needs to be freshly squeezed from ripe lemons. Only then does this element add that beautiful acidic punch and natural citrus flavor. Don't use bottled citrus juice for your cocktails.
  • Simple syrup: In turn, Sugar syrup from the supermarket is fine. However, you can also easily make simple syrup at home and save a few bucks. 
  • Soda water: It's crucial it is chilled and has some decent carbonation in your drink.
  • Maraschino cherry for garnish: Obligatory for an authentic John Collins Cocktail. Use real maraschino cherries or replace them with a homemade version, but stay away from the cheap copycat candied cocktail cherries.

Expert Tips

You can prepare this drink in the glass, but I like to use my shaker to get this perfect. Why? Because high-proof spirits like gin mix better with non-alcoholic components like juice and syrupy textures when you use more muscle. - That's also why you mainly make alcoholic-ingredient-only drinks in a mixing glass. 

Naturally, the soda water should not go into the shaker. We want it to keep its fizz and add a nice and fresh taste to the John Collins. Therefore only stir gently and shortly with your bar spoon once you poured the soda.

Also, remember to use large and clear ice cubes. A so-called Collins Stick is best. That's a long, rectangular, clear ice cube that fits the size of the Collins glass. Don't worry if you don't have one. Just stack a few clear, large cubes.


What began with gin has grown into a large Collins cocktail family with all kinds of base spirits. All following the same pattern. There are drinks like

  • Tom Collins (based on gin)
  • Joe Collins (based on vodka)
  • Sandy Collins (based on Scotch)
  • Pierre Collins (based on brandy / Cognac)

It does not stop with these three, though. There are many more, and the family keeps expanding.

There's often a mix-up with the Tom Collins Cocktail, also made with gin yet, with another type. If you want to know more, let me shed some light on this mystery and the difference between a John and a Tom Collins.

It also includes a short comparison to similar drinks like the Gin Fizz and the Gin Sour


The history of the cocktail is not entirely clear. One story is that the drink, back then known as Gin Punch, got created by a bartender named John Collins. He is believed to have served guests in a London Hotel called the Limmer's Old House. 

This establishment was a well-frequented inn and coffee house in London's Mayfair district from 1790 - 1817. According to author Simon Difford, a limerick by Charles and Frank Sheridan makes this story immortal: 

"My name is John Collins, head waiter at Limmer's, Corner of Conduit Street, Hanover Square, My chief occupation is filling brimmers For all the young gentlemen frequenters there." Charles and Frank Sheridan

Initially, the drink probably contained Jenever, a Gin predecessor from the Netherlands, as the base spirit. Today, London Dry is the regular choice.

The oldest printed version of the John Collins recipe known to us is in Harry Johnsons Bartenders' Manual pulished in 1882. The cocktail book even already includes a separate recipe for the Tom Collins.

More Refreshing Gin Cocktails

In today's world of mixology, gin-based drinks are among the top sellers in cocktail bars everywhere. These refreshing recipes are also worth trying:

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