John Collins (cocktail)

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John Collins
IBA official cocktail
IBA Cocktail John Collins (29221732881).jpg
TypeMixed drink
Primary alcohol by volume
ServedOn the rocks; poured over ice
Standard garnishLemon slice and maraschino cherry
Standard drinkware
Collins Glass.gif
Collins glass
IBA specified
PreparationPour all ingredients directly into highball glass filled with ice. Stir gently. Garnish. Add a dash of Angostura bitters.
dagger John Collins recipe at International Bartenders Association

A John Collins is a cocktail which was attested to in 1869, but may be older. It is believed to have originated with a headwaiter of that name who worked at Limmer's Old House in Conduit Street in Mayfair, which was a popular London hotel and coffee house around 1790–1817.[1][2]


The John Collins is a Collins cocktail—that is, a long drink stirred with ice and topped with soda—made from London dry gin (or Bourbon whiskey), lemon juice, sugar and carbonated water. A recipe for a John Collins is featured in the Steward and Barkeeper's Manual of 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.[3]

Drinks historian David Wondrich has speculated that the original recipe that was introduced to New York in the 1850s would have been very similar to the gin punches that are known to have been served at London clubs such as the Garrick during the first half of the 19th century. He states that these would have been along the lines of gin, lemon juice, chilled soda water, and maraschino.[1]

The specific call for Old Tom gin in the 1869 recipe is a likely cause for the subsequent name change to "Tom Collins" in Jerry Thomas's 1876 recipe. In contemporary parlance, the John Collins refers to a Tom Collins made with whiskey instead of gin. Earlier versions of the gin punch are likely to have used Hollands instead.[1]

In popular culture[edit]

The following rhyme was written by Frank and Charles Sheridan about John Collins:[4]

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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Regan, Gaz. "The Tom Collins and the John Collins: However this has been refuted by many in Ireland who claim the drink was developed in one of the first Irish pubs in New York est 1860 and named after the revolutionary Tom Collins. A Discussion". gaz's Cocktail Book. Archived from the original on 5 November 2013.
  2. ^ Calabrese, Salvatore (1997). Classic Cocktails. London: Prion. p. 166. ISBN 1-85375-240-1.
  3. ^ "Difference between Collinses & Fizzes". Archived from the original on 5 November 2013. Retrieved 25 September 2015.
  4. ^ Solmonson, David; Solmonson, Lesley Jacobs (2014). The 12 Bottle Bar.