John Collins

John Collins or a Tom Collins

This series highlights the International Bartenders Association (IBA) The Unforgettables cocktails. I have decided to work my way through this series of cocktails to investigate the classics as I teach myself mixology and build out my home bar.

Yesterday I made the gin fizz. It is difficult for me to see the difference between these two cocktails other than the ice. What I will say is that the lemon juice is quite pronounced in this. Why here and not in the gin fizz? The only explanation I had is that I used more than a splash of soda water in the gin fizz; I filled the glass. Doing so must have diluted the lemon.

Here, it was quite pronounced. This is definitely a spiked lemonade. Love it! It is refreshing on this summer day. Easy to make and fewer tools as there is no shaking going on as it is built in the glass.

But this drink totally confuses me. Not a gin drinker, I am unfamiliar with the cocktails. But I have heard of a Tom Collins. I searched for the difference between a Tom Collins and a John Collins. Same drink save gin is substituted with bourbon. Sounds like a Mike’s hard lemonade.

Here’s the thing: IBA says a John Collins is made with Old Tom gin. I looked some more. Well, apparently, back in the 1800s, a John Collins was made with genever. Since then, it has been made with bourbon. What I made here would be classified by most, I suspect, as a Tom Collins. That is certainly a name of a cocktail I am familiar with.

Tom, John, Dick, or Harry—it doesn’t much matter to me. It is a fun cocktail.

John Collins

John Collins

Recipe by Robert OwensCourse: Cocktails, The Unforgettables


Prep time


Cooking timeminutes

IBA recipe


  • 45 ml Gin

  • 30 ml Fresh Lemon Juice

  • 15 ml Simple Syrup

  • 60 ml  Soda Water


  • Pour all ingredients directly into a highball filled with ice. Stir gently.
  • Garnish with a lemon slice and maraschino cherry.


  • Use ‘Old Tom’ Gin for Tom Collins.

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