John Collins Cocktail Recipe

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John Collins Nutrition Facts






Created by

Nic Polotnianko

I fell in love with the art of mixology 6 years ago. Since then, I've honed my skills, crafting a myriad of cocktail recipes, and sharing my passion with other enthusiasts.

Last Updated: January 7, 2024


The John Collins cocktail is a classic drink that dates back to the 19th century. It was named after a popular London bartender, John Collins, who worked at Limmer's Hotel. The drink became popular in the United States in the early 20th century and has been a staple in cocktail bars ever since.

  • Origin: London, England
  • Created: 19th century
  • Popularity: Worldwide
  • Target audience: Cocktail enthusiasts, history buffs, and those who enjoy classic drinks

How John Collins Tastes?

The John Collins is a refreshing, slightly sweet, and sour cocktail with a hint of bitterness. It has a light, effervescent texture and a balanced flavor profile.

Interesting facts about John Collins

  • The John Collins is often confused with the Tom Collins, which uses gin instead of whiskey.
  • The original recipe called for Old Tom gin, but it has evolved to include other types of whiskey or bourbon.
  • The John Collins is sometimes referred to as a 'Whiskey Collins' or a 'Bourbon Collins'.


Whiskey: 2oz

The whiskey is the soul of the drink, providing a deep and rich flavor that underpins the other ingredients. If you pour too little, you'll lose that warm embrace; too much, and your drink might become too strong and overshadow the other flavors.

Alex Green

Lemon juice: 1oz

Lemon juice adds a zesty tang, brightening the drink and giving it a refreshing edge. Imagine a day without sunshine – that's your Collins without lemon. Losing this would mean the cocktail becomes flat and loses its refreshing kick.

Emma Rose

Simple syrup: 0.5oz

It’s the sweet whisper that balances the tartness of the lemon. If the whiskey gives the drink its heart, the simple syrup is surely its sweet smile. Not enough, and the drink might be too sharp; too much, and you're in candied territory.

Mary Mitkina

Club soda: 2oz

This is what gives your John Collins its effervescence and lightness, lifting it from a flat tasting experience to a sparkling sensation. Too little and your drink feels heavy; too much and you’re in a bubbly water down situation.

Alex Green

Maraschino cherry: 1

Like the cherry on top, it's not just a garnish; it’s a tiny fruit punch of flavor. Omitting it won't ruin the drink, but why miss out on the fun?

Emma Rose

Orange slice: 1

Garnishing with an orange slice adds aromatic oils to the mix and a sunny, inviting appearance. Leaving the orange slice out would be like going to a party dressed in beige – technically fine, but why not add some color?

Mary Mitkina

Recipe. How to make John Collins Drink

  1. Fill a shaker with ice
  2. Add whiskey, lemon juice, and simple syrup
  3. Shake well until chilled
  4. Strain into a Collins glass filled with ice
  5. Top with club soda
  6. Gently stir to combine
  7. Garnish with a maraschino cherry and an orange slice

Pro Tips

  • Use fresh lemon juice for the best flavor.
  • Chill the glass before serving for a refreshing drink.
  • Adjust the sweetness by adding more or less simple syrup.

Perfect Pairings


  • Grilled steak: The robust flavor of whisky pairs well with the charred taste of grilled meat.
  • Barbecue: The tangy and sweet flavors of barbecue sauce compliment the citrus notes in the cocktail.
  • Seafood: Lightly seasoned seafood like grilled shrimp can be a refreshing complement.
  • Salty snacks: Nuts, pretzels, or chips balance the cocktail's sweetness and acidity.


  • Water: To stay hydrated between cocktails.
  • Amber Ale: Its caramel notes can enhance the whiskey's warmth.

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What you could change in John Collins

  • Whiskey: Can be replaced with gin or rum.
  • Simple syrup: Can be replaced with honey or agave syrup.
  • Club soda: Can be replaced with tonic water or sparkling water.

Explore all drinks starting with J here

And of course - twists🍹

Bourbon Collins

Switch out the whiskey for bourbon to give it a sweeter, more vanilla and oaky profile. You'll want to slightly increase the lemon to balance bourbon’s sweetness.

Honey Collins

Replace simple syrup with honey syrup for an earthy sweetness. This will make your cocktail more aromatic and give it a richer mouthfeel.

Berry Collins

Muddle a few raspberries or blackberries in the shaker before adding the other ingredients. It’ll introduce a fruity twist and an attractive color that's sure to impress.

In case you forgot basics how to make John Collins

The basic composition of simple syrup is relatively straightforward – a 1:1 ratio of sugar and water. This mixture is heated until the sugar dissolves, resulting in a clear, sweet syrup.

Learn everything about simple syrup

Add your ingredients to the shaker first, then ice. Fill it up to ¾ of its capacity to ensure enough space for shaking. Hold the shaker with both hands (one on the top and one on the bottom) and shake vigorously. The shake should come from your shoulders, not your wrists.

Learn everything on how to shake

Place your chosen strainer on top of the shaker or mixing glass, ensuring a secure fit. Pour the cocktail into a glass through the strainer, which will catch solid ingredients and ice. If double straining, hold the fine mesh strainer between the shaker and the glass.

Learn everything on how to strain

Insert the spoon into the glass until it touches the bottom. Keep the back of the spoon against the inside wall of the glass, and stir in a smooth, circular motion. The goal is to swirl the ice and ingredients together without churning or splashing.

Learn everything on how to stir

Garnishing a bar drink depends on the type of garnish and the cocktail. Generally, it involves preparing the garnish (like cutting a citrus wheel or picking a sprig of mint), and then adding it to the drink in a visually appealing way (like perching it on the rim or floating it on top).

Learn everything on garnishing

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Frequently Asked Questions on John Collins

What is the best type of whiskey to use in a John Collins cocktail?

The type of whiskey used in a John Collins cocktail can greatly impact the flavor. For a smooth, rich flavor, consider using a bourbon. For a spicier, bolder flavor, a rye whiskey would be a good choice.

What time of day is best to enjoy a John Collins cocktail?

It's a versatile drink suitable for most occasions. You could enjoy it as a refreshing afternoon drink on a hot day, or as part of a cocktail hour in the evening.

What food pairing works well with a John Collins cocktail?

Since the cocktail has a refreshing, slightly sweet, and sour taste, it is best paired with salty or spicy foods. Try it with nuts, pickles, or spicy chicken wings.

Can I use lime juice instead of lemon juice in a John Collins cocktail?

You can, but it will alter the flavor of the cocktail. Lemon juice gives a bright, tart flavor that complements the whiskey's flavors, while lime juice will make the drink taste more tangy.

What is the ideal glass for serving a John Collins cocktail?

A John Collins is traditionally served in a Collins glass, which is tall and narrow, and allows for plenty of room for ice and garnishes.

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