Looking to learn how to make a classic gin John Collins drink?
Our quick & easy John Collins drink recipe is a thirst quenching cocktail best enjoyed on a sunny summer day.
The classic cocktail features premium gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, soda water, lemon slice and Maraschino Cherry.
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What is a John Collins Drink?
The John Collins is a classic drink which was first documented in 1869, but many cocktail historians believe it is older.
It is believed to have been created by a waiter named John Collins who worked at Limmer’s Old House in Conduit Street in Mayfair, a popular London hotel and coffee house from 1790–1817.
The popular Collins cocktail is a long drink stirred with ice and topped with soda – made from London dry gin, lemon juice, sugar and carbonated water.
A classic John Collins drink recipe prepared with gin was featured in the Steward and Barkeeper’s Manual published in 1869:
Teaspoonful of powdered sugar
The juice of half a lemon
A wine glass of Old Tom Gin
A bottle of plain soda
Shake up, or stir up with ice. Add a slice of lemon peel to finish.
Cocktail historian David Wondrich once speculated that the classic John Collins drink recipe that was introduced to New York City in the 1850s was very similar to the gin punches that are known to have been served at London clubs during the first half of the 19th century.
John Collins Drink vs Tom Collins Cocktail
So what’s the difference between a John Collins and a Tom Collins cocktail?
The specific call for Old Tom gin in the historic 1869 recipe is a likely cause for the name change to Tom Collins. Also note that there are many references to the John Collins being made with Bourbon whiskey instead of gin.
A Tom Collins is then made using an Old Tom Gin rather than London Dry Gin. Made in a pot still and is typically a sweeter style gin. This style of gin was hard to come by in recent times but has had a resurgence thanks to London’s Hayman’s Distillery and several other British brands.
Best Selling Gin
Gin has certainly enjoyed a boom in popularity at cocktail bars in recent years. You’ll find fantastic premium gins distilled from Scotland to Muskoka. Here are some of the world’s best selling gins and some of our local small batch favourites:
- Gordon’s Gin: The world’s top selling gin brand is owned by Diageo. The brand’s pink iteration has undoubtedly helped to fuel its success. Gordon’s has also unveiled a line of new innovative products including two “ultra-low-alcohol” pre-mixed gin and tonic sparkling beverages and Gordon’s Gin-infused popsicles.
- Bombay Sapphire Gin: Bacardi-owned Bombay Sapphire is one of the worlds best-selling gins. Bombay Sapphire kicked off a new limited edition range with the launch of a gin inspired by summer in the English countryside.
- Tanqueray: Diageo-owned Tanqueray launched a new marketing campaign developed to shift consumers’ attention from “gimmicks” to flavour and unveiled a range of bottled ready-to-drink gin and tonics, made with its London Dry Gin and Flor de Sevilla Distilled Gin.
- Beefeater Gin: Pernod Ricard’s flagship gin brand is Beefeater. The brand launched strawberry-flavoured Beefeater Pink in 2018 and further expanded its portfolio with the debut of a new blood orange-flavoured gin.
- Seagram’s: Pernod Ricard-owned Seagram’s is a top seller having recently purchased Italian brand Malfy Gin.
- Hendrick’s Gin: Opened the door to its £13 million Gin Palace in 2018, allowing the brand to double its capacity to two million cases annually. The Scottish brand has also added to its portfolio with the launch of the limited edition summer solstice-inspired Midsummer Solstice gin.
- Edinburgh Gin: This craft distillery in Edinburgh produces a parade of flavoured gin bottles including rhubarb & ginger gin, raspberry gin, bramble & honey gin, black currant & anise, strawberry & pink peppercorn and pomegranate & rose.
- Dillon’s Distillery: This Beamsville producer makes small batch gins including rose gin, cherry gin and strawberry gin.
- Muskoka Brewery: This Ontario craft brewery produces a London Dry and spicy pink peppercorn gin.
Travel to Taste the World’s Best Gins
There’s no better way to familiarize yourself with a classic Gin John Collins Drink recipe then by planning a vacation to visit the world’s best gin distilleries.
The world’s most famous gins can be found in the United Kingdom as well as neighbouring Ireland. The booming gin trend has produced a high demand for premium gins produced by distilleries in Canada and America.
We’ve visited a handful of gin distilleries in Britain as well as a chic gin cocktail bar at the Shangri-La Hotel in Taipei. The gin craze has officially travelled from England to North America, Asia and beyond!
In Scotland we visited Edinburgh Gin for a tour and tasting before enjoying a road trip to the Isle of Islay, which is best known for its famous Islay whisky distilleries. One of the best things to do on the Isle of Islay is pay a visit to Bruichladdich Distillery, which produces its signature whisky as well as Botanist Gin.
In Brighton we visited a tiny micro-distillery called Brighton Gin, one of the best things to do in Brighton for G&T fans. We also stayed at the luxurious Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire to sip our way through the jaw-dropping home of renowned Bombay Sapphire.
Looking to plan the ultimate road trip of Canada to discover the best gins?
Our favourite Canadian gins include Ungava in Quebec, Tawse and Dillon’s in Niagara, Muskoka Brewery in Ontario cottage country, Kinsip House of Fine Spirits in Prince Edward County, North of 7 in Ottawa, Dixon’s in Guelph, Eau Claire Distillery in Alberta, Blackfox in Saskatoon, Ironworks Gin in Nova Scotia and Long Table Distillery in British Columbia.
Best Bartender Tools & Cocktail Equipment
Before hosting a swanky Gin John Collins Drink soiree you’ll need to ensure you have the best bartender tools and cocktail equipment.
- Cocktail Kit: cocktail kits are the perfect gift for newbie mixology fans as they include basic bartender tools like a jigger, shaker and spoon.
- Cocktail Shaker: a bartenders best friend. Purchase a premium cocktail shaker to muddle or shake up your favourite pink gin cocktails.
- Cocktail Glassware: make sure your bar is stocked with a selection of unique glassware to show off your favourite cocktail creations.
- Hawthorne Strainer: this unique strainer features tightly wound coils and perforated holes. It keeps ice and other large ingredients like lime wedges in your cocktail shaker rather than in the glass.
- Bar Spoons: slender and long bar spoons are a must-have when stirring drinks.
- Bottle Opener: easily open bottles of beer or cider with the flick of your wrist or purchase a corkscrew for fine wine.
- Pouring Spout: once you’ve opened a new bottle of gin insert these affordable pourers to make cocktail assembly a breeze.
- Cutting Board: purchase a petite cutting board for your bar to slice garnishes or citrus wedges like lime, orange, lemon or grapefruit.
- Ice Bucket: chill bottles of gin quickly in an ice bucket or keep by the bar when muddling gin mixers into cool creations.
- Ice Crusher: fans of the Mint Julep love an ice crusher.
- Ice Cube Kit: we suggest purchasing a selection of ice cube trays. Silicone styles are our favourite as they’re easy to clean and are available in various shapes and sizes.
- Jigger: use a jigger to accurately measure spirits, juices, syrups and shrubs.
- Juicer: invest in an electronic juicer or buy an affordable hand-held to easily juice fresh citrus like lemons and limes.
- Muddler: fans of the Mojito love a sturdy muddler to mix mint and lime. Muddler’s are handy for any cocktail featuring ingredients that need a pounding like fresh herbs or citrus wedges.
- Citrus Peeler & Zester: adorn your craft cocktails with a thick citrus peel or finer ribbons of lime or lemon zest.
- Rimmer: Bloody Mary and Caesar lovers should outfit their bar with a handy rimmer for salting and sugaring glassware.
Classic Gin John Collins Ingredients
Our classic John Collins drink is made with premium ingredients.
- Gin: be sure to use a London Dry gin like Hayman’s of London, The Botanist or Aviation Gin.
- Lemon Juice: only use freshly squeezed lemon juice. You can taste the difference when someone incorrectly muddles cocktails with store bought citrus juice.
- Simple Syrup: you can easily make homemade simple syrup, which is prepared by heating equal parts water and white sugar.
- Soda Water: we suggest using premium Fever Tree Club Soda. You could also use sparkling water from your own Soda Stream machine.
- Maraschino Cherries: garnish the glass with premium Luxardo Maraschino Cherries.
Gin John Collins Drink Tips
This Gin John Collins Drink recipe is easy to make at home, ready to serve in under 5 minutes.
We love serving classic John Collins cocktails during the summer as it’s a refreshing sip on a hot day.
If you don’t like soda water and enjoy a sweeter sip feel free to replace with tonic water or add additional simple syrup.
Our Gin John Collins Drink recipe below is listed for one person. If you’re hosting a large gathering feel free to multiply the ingredients by the number of guests and muddle the drink in a punch bowl or jug rather than a cocktail shaker.
Serve the drink in a proper Collins glass with whole ice cubes or crushed ice.
Garnish with fresh lemon wheels, slices or wedges. Finesse the glass with a plump Maraschino Cherry.
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Best Gin John Collins Drink Recipe
Classic Gin John Collins Cocktail
- Collins Glass
- Cocktail spoon
- Shot Glass
- Cocktail Shaker
- 2 oz Gin
- 1 oz Lemon juice
- 0.5 oz Simple Syrup
- 2 oz Soda Water
- Lemon slice garnish
- Luxardo Maraschino Cherry garnish
- In a cocktail shaker add gin, lemon juice, simple syrup and ice.
- Shake for 30-45 seconds to ensure contents of the cocktail shaker are fully incorporated.
- Strain into ice filled Collins glass and top with soda water.
- Stir with cocktail spoon and garnish with lemon slice and Luxardo Maraschino cherry.
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