John Collins cocktail on wooden board, garnished with lemon and cherry

John Collins Cocktail

By Timo Torner / Last updated on November 15, 2022 

First published on November 3, 2021 

A John Collins is a sour and fizzy cocktail based on Gin, lemon juice, sugar, and soda water. The drink is served on ice in a so-called Collins glass.

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

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

Jump to Recipe | Ingredients | How to make a John Collins | History | Variations | How it's different

Ingredients

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

  • Gin (London Dry)
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Simple syrup
  • Soda water.
  • Maraschino cherry for garnish

The standard type of Gin 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.

The lemon juice has to be freshly squeezed from ripe lemons to add that beautiful acidic punch and natural citrus flavor. Don't use bottled citrus juice for your cocktails.

In turn, Sugar syrup from the supermarket is fine. However, you can also easily make simple syrup at home and save a few bucks.

Finally, the soda: It's crucial that it is chilled and has some decent carbonation in your drink.

How to make a John Collins

You can prepare this drink in the glass, but I like to use my shaker to get this perfect:

Step 1: Put a Collins Stick or solid mid-sized ice cubes in your glass and set it aside for a moment.

Step 2: Add the Gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup into your cocktail shaker with plenty of ice. Don't add the soda yet. It will lose its fizz when you shake it.

Step 3: Shake until the contents are well-chilled, and use a Hawthorne strainer to strain it into the prepared glass.

Step 4: Top up the drink with ice-cold soda water and stir the cocktail carefully with a bar spoon.

Step 5: Garnish the drink with a Maraschino cherry.

John Collins lemon straw

History

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. 

"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

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: 

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

Variations

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

  • Joe Collins (based on Vodka)
  • Colonel Collins (based on Bourbon)
  • 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

John Collins cocktail on wooden board, garnished with lemon and cherry

John Collins

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

  • 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.

Nutrition

Serving: 5oz | Calories: 199kcal | Carbohydrates: 39.25g | Protein: 0.3g | Fat: 0.2g | Sodium: 42.25mg | Potassium: 186.25mg | Sugar: 35.38g | Vitamin C: 29.25mg | Calcium: 63mg | Iron: 0.13mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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