Collins cocktails

23 Collins Cocktails and Variations to Know

Explore the Collins family and learn simple cocktail recipes! Start with the classic Tom Collins, then try its variations to mix up your drink game.

Collins cocktails are a category of mixed alcoholic drinks that typically have a base spirit, lemon or lime juice, sugar (or simple syrup) as ingredients, and are topped off with soda water. They are served in a tall, narrow glass, a “Collins glass,” filled with ice. All collins types are named after the most famous variant, the Tom Collins.

The Collins family is believed to have originated in the mid-19th century in England. The most classic version, the Tom Collins, was first recorded in 1876 in Jerry Thomas‘s “The Bartender’s Guide”. However, during the more recent years more types were invented. For example

  • John Collins: Originally made with gin, but now often made with bourbon.
  • Ron Collins: Made with rum.
  • Vodka Collins: Made with vodka.
  • Sloe Gin Collins: Made with sloe gin.

We’ve listed the best versions below:

The Collins Family – 23 Best Variations and Recipes

One of the reasons we love the Collins cocktails here at Drinks World is their flexibility. Bartenders can easily tweak the basic recipe to create new variations, such as using different sweeteners, adding fruit flavors, or incorporating modern ingredients.

Tom Collins

A side shot of a Tom Collins cocktail in a Highball glass on a stone plate placed on a marmol table, with a shaker, a jigger, an orange and a bar spoon in the background

The Tom Collins features gin as its base spirit, often with botanical flavors like juniper, coriander, and citrus peels. This cocktail mixes gin with lemon juice, simple syrup, and soda water, creating a refreshing and bubbly drink. People know gin for classic cocktails like the “Gin and Tonic” and “Martini”.

John Collins (Bourbon Collins)

A side shot of a John Collins cocktail in highball glass on a coaster placed on a white cloth on a beige table surrounded by a straw, four lemons, and a shaker

The John Collins uses bourbon or whiskey, which brings warm, caramel, and oaky notes to the drink. This cocktail combines whiskey with lemon juice, simple syrup, and soda water, offering a smooth and zesty flavor. Whiskey stands out in famous drinks like the “Old Fashioned” and “Whiskey Sour“.

Additionally, there are other Collins variations tailored to each type of whiskey: the “Canadian Whisky Collins” (also known as Captain Collins), the “Irish Whiskey Collins” (often referred to as Mike or Michael Collins), and the “Scotch Collins” (nicknamed Sandy Collins).

Ron Collins

In this cocktail, rum blends with lemon juice, simple syrup, and soda water for a light and uplifting taste. Rum is a spirit made from sugarcane or molasses, giving it sweet and sometimes tropical undertones. Rum stars in popular cocktails like the “Mojito” and “Piña Colada.”

Another variation using light white rum is called the Pedro Collins

Vodka Collins (Joe Collins)

A side shot of a Vodka Collins cocktail in a highball glass on a multicolor tray surrounded by four lemon wedges, a bar spoon, and a mixing glass.

The Vodka Collins uses vodka as its base spirit, known for its clean and neutral flavor. This cocktail combines vodka with lemon juice, simple syrup, and soda water, resulting in a crisp and refreshing drink. Vodka shines in well-known cocktails like the “Vodka Martini” and “Bloody Mary“. This version is known as the ‘Joe Collins’ as well.

Tequila Collins (Juan or Jose or Pepito Collins)

The Tequila Collins features tequila, a spirit distilled from the blue agave plant, often associated with earthy and slightly sweet flavors. This cocktail blends tequila with lemon juice, simple syrup, and soda water, offering a zesty and vibrant taste. Tequila is the key ingredient in famous drinks like the “Margarita” and “Tequila Sunrise“.

Brandy Collins (Pierre Collins)

This drink centers on brandy, a spirit that distills wine with rich, fruity, and sometimes woody notes. It mixes brandy with lemon juice, simple syrup, and soda water, creating a smooth and warming drink. Brandy is used in classic cocktails like the “Sidecar” and “Brandy Alexander”.

Jenever Collins (Dutch or Jan Collins)

The Jenever Collins showcases jenever (or genever), a traditional Dutch spirit precursor to modern gin. It has malty flavors combined with botanicals like juniper. This cocktail pairs jenever with lemon juice, simple syrup, and soda water, resulting in a balanced and aromatic drink. Jenever stands out in traditional drinks like the “Dutch Courage” and is also enjoyed neat in the Netherlands.

Calvados Collins (Jack Collins)

The Calvados Collins highlights calvados, an apple or pear brandy from the Normandy region in France. This cocktail mixes calvados with lemon juice, simple syrup, and soda water, giving a fruity and refreshing taste. Calvados are often enjoyed in classic drinks like the “Applecar” or sipped straight for their rich apple flavors.

Pisco Collins

This cocktail combines pisco with lemon juice, simple syrup, and soda water, resulting in a bright and aromatic drink. Pisco is the star in iconic cocktails like the “Pisco Sour” and “Chilcano.”

Rye Collins

This cocktail blends rye whiskey with lemon juice, simple syrup, and soda water, offering a zesty kick. Rye whiskey shines in classic cocktails like the “Manhattan” and “Sazerac“.

Mezcal Collins

This cocktail pairs mezcal with lemon juice, simple syrup, and soda water, resulting in a smoky and refreshing flavor. Mezcal is used in unique drinks like the “Mezcal Margarita” and is often sipped to appreciate its smoky nuances.

Elderflower Collins

This cocktail blends gin with elderflower liqueur, lemon juice, simple syrup, and soda water, resulting in a refreshing floral drink. Elderflower liqueur is also popular in cocktails like the “Elderflower Spritz”.

Peach Collins

This cocktail combines gin with peach puree or schnapps, lemon juice, simple syrup, and soda water, offering a fruity and summery taste. Gin stands out in drinks like the “Negroni” and “Gimlet.” Peach, on the other hand, is a key player in the “Bellini”.

Raspberry Collins

This cocktail mixes gin with fresh raspberries or raspberry liqueur, lemon juice, simple syrup, and soda water, creating a tangy and vibrant drink. Raspberries are also featured in drinks like the “Raspberry Mojito.”

Cucumber Collins

The Cucumber Collins showcases gin, which often has juniper, citrus, and other botanical flavors. This cocktail pairs gin with muddled cucumber, lemon juice, simple syrup, and soda water, resulting in a crisp and cooling drink. Gin shines in classics like the “Gin Fizz” and “Last Word.” Cucumber adds a refreshing twist to drinks like the “Cucumber Martini.”

Coconut Collins

This drink blends rum with coconut cream or liqueur, lemon juice, simple syrup, and soda water, resulting in a creamy and tropical drink. Rum is key to classics like the “Daiquiri” and “Mojito“. Coconut shines in drinks like the “Piña Colada.”

Pineapple Collins

This cocktail combines rum with pineapple juice, lemon juice, simple syrup, and soda water, offering a fruity and refreshing taste. Pineapple is a star in the “Pineapple Margarita” as well.

Blood Orange Collins

This drink mixes gin with blood orange juice, lemon juice, simple syrup, and soda water, creating a vibrant, tangy drink. Blood orange is also highlighted in drinks such as the “Blood Orange Mimosa.”

Cherry Collins

This drink pairs vodka with cherry puree or liqueur, lemon juice, simple syrup, and soda water, resulting in a sweet and tart flavor. Cherries are featured in drinks like the “Cherry Bomb.”

Grapefruit Collins

This cocktail blends gin with grapefruit juice, lemon juice, simple syrup, and soda water, offering a zesty and slightly bitter taste.

Mango Collins

This drink combines rum with mango puree, lemon juice, simple syrup, and soda water, creating a tropical and lush drink. Mango is a key player in drinks such as the “Mango Margarita.”

Paloma

A side shot of a Paloma cocktail in a highball glass on a brown coaster placed on a light blue table surrounded by a jigger, a straw and a half grapefruit.

The Paloma features tequila, a spirit distilled from the blue agave plant, often associated with earthy and slightly sweet flavors. This cocktail combines tequila with grapefruit soda, a pinch of salt, and lime juice, resulting in a zesty and refreshing drink.

Grand Collins

This cocktail blends Grand Marnier with lemon juice, simple syrup, and soda water, offering a citrusy and slightly luxurious taste. Grand Marnier is a liqueur made from a blend of cognac, distilled bitter orange essence, and sugar.

Non-Alcoholic Collins Mix version

The non-alcoholic version of the Collins is often referred to as a “Virgin Collins” or simply a “Collins Mix.”

The Virgin Collins follows a similar recipe to the traditional Collins cocktails but leaves out the alcoholic base spirit:

  • 1 oz lemon or lime juice
  • 0.5 oz simple syrup
  • Soda water to top off
  • Garnish with a lemon or lime slice and a cherry.

You can also add various fruit juices or purees to customize the flavor. For instance, muddled strawberries or cucumber slices can add a fresh twist to the drink.

Other drinks and recipes using a Collins Glass

The Collins glass is also known as tall glass. It’s versatile and used for various drinks beyond the Collins family of cocktails.

  • Mojito: A refreshing Cuban drink with rum, lime juice, sugar, mint, and soda water.
  • Fizz cocktails (e.g., Gin Fizz, Ramos Gin Fizz): Similar to Collins but often with egg white for frothiness.
  • Sea Breeze: A drink made with vodka, cranberry juice, and grapefruit juice.
  • Bloody Mary: A savory cocktail made with vodka, tomato juice, and various spices and flavorings.
  • Long Island Iced Tea: A potent mix of vodka, tequila, rum, gin, triple sec, lemon juice, and cola.
  • Pimm’s Cup: A British drink made with Pimm’s No. 1, lemonade, and various fruits and herbs.
  • Tequila Sunrise: A visually striking drink made with tequila, orange juice, and grenadine.
  • Zombie: A tiki drink with rums, fruit juices, and syrups.
  • Screwdriver: A simple mix of vodka and orange juice.
  • Cape Codder: A combination of vodka and cranberry juice.

Other cocktails we love: Daiquiri, French 75, Caipirinha and Cosmopolitan. For more, check out our full cocktails page on DrinksWorld.

FAQs

  1. What are muddled drinks? Muddled drinks are cocktails in which fresh ingredients, such as herbs or fruit, are pressed or crushed to release their flavors.
  2. Which Collins cocktail was invented first? The John Collins was invented first.
  3. What is the difference between a Tom Collins and a John Collins? The primary difference is the base spirit: a Tom Collins uses gin, while a John Collins traditionally uses bourbon or whiskey.

Simple Collins Cocktails: Paloma Recipe (and 21 more!)

Paloma Cocktail Drink

Best Paloma Recipe

Jump to Video
Sip away the summer heat with this easy Paloma recipe! This zesty cocktail is your go-to for a refreshing treat, made with Tequila, grapefruit soda, and a splash of lime.
Prep time: 1 minute
Mixing time: 1 minute
Servings: 1
Calories: 231

Ingredients
 

  • 2 oz Tequila
  • 4 oz grapefruit soda
  • ½ oz lime juice
  • ½ oz grapefruit Cordial
  • Ice cubes
  • Grapefruit wedge or slice - for garnish, optional
  • Salt - for rimming the glass, optional

Equipment

  • Highball Glass
  • Measuring Jigger
  • Stirrer or Bar Spoon

Instructions

  • Rim Glass: If you like, wet the rim of a highball glass with a lime wedge and dip it in salt.
  • Prep Glass: Fill the glass with ice cubes.
  • Add Lime Juice: Add ½ oz lime juice to the glass.
  • Add Grapefruit Cordial: Pour ½ oz grapefruit Cordial.
  • Add Tequila: Pour 2 oz Tequila into the glass.
  • Add Soda: Top up with 4 oz grapefruit soda.
  • Garnish: Garnish with a grapefruit wedge or slice.

Notes

Substitutes:

  • Tequila: I've experimented with mezcal instead of Blanco Tequila, and it provides a smoky kick that some might enjoy.
  • Grapefruit Soda: If grapefruit soda isn't available, mix grapefruit juice and soda water in a 2:1 ratio. Add a teaspoon of sugar to balance the tartness.
  • Lime Juice: Lemon juice works if you're out of limes but still want a citrusy tang.

Making a Pitcher of Paloma:

  • Scale: To serve 8 people, multiply all the ingredients by 8. You'll need 16 oz of Tequila, 32 oz of grapefruit soda, and 4 oz of lime juice.
  • Mix: Combine the Tequila, lime juice, and grapefruit soda in a large pitcher. Stir well.
  • Serve: Pour into ice-filled highball glasses, garnish with a lime slice or wedge, and serve immediately.

Making it Non-Alcoholic:

  • Tequila Substitute: You can use a non-alcoholic tequila substitute available in the market.
  • Proceed As Usual: Use the non-alcoholic substitute instead of Tequila and follow the original steps to enjoy a non-alcoholic Paloma.

Making it Vegan:

  • Check Ingredients: Most of the ingredients are naturally vegan. However, always check the labels for any hidden animal-derived additives or preservatives.

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