John Collins Cocktail Recipe

Teddy Francisco
Last Updated on
by Teddy Francisco

The Collins family knows how to make a cocktail. Though the gin-based Tom Collins drink is more known and popular, he doesn’t sleep on his younger brother yet.

John Collins Cocktail

Here’s how you can make a delicious John Collins cocktail and how to serve it right:

John Collins Recipe Guide

John Collins

The John Collins is a bubbly and refreshing drink that only needs a few ingredients:

  • 2 ounces of whiskey (bourbon or Irish whiskey)
  • 1 ounce of lemon juice
  • 3/4 ounces of simple syrup
  • 4 ounces of club soda
  • Fresh ice
  • Optional: 1 maraschino cherry to garnish

Then, all you need to do is add all your ingredients to a highball glass with ice and stir to combine. Top with a maraschino cherry if you want, or enjoy it as-is.

Nutrition Facts and Calories

The John Collins has roughly 152 calories per glass, so it’s not a heavy cocktail. You can make it even lighter if you use less simple syrup and indulge in a more sour drink.

It also has around 15% ABV, which is a moderate amount. One glass of this cocktail won’t do much damage, but it depends on how whiskey-heavy you go.

John Collins Serving Tips

Making John Collins

The John Collins is a great summer drink, but feel free to enjoy it during any season. The lemon juice and simple syrup combo almost makes it taste like lemonade, but you’ll quickly sense the distinctive notes of whiskey seeping through.

Here are some other serving tips that can help you impress party guests:

  • Pre-mix without the soda: Add the whiskey, lemon juice, and simple syrup to a cocktail shaker, mix, and strain into a punch bowl to get the foundation of the cocktail ready for guests. Top with the soda and cherry garnish directly in the serving glass with ice to make sure the cocktail is bubbly.
  • Use flavored ice: The John Collins is a simple cocktail, but you can add subtle extra flavors through the ice. Use flavored ones or even frozen fruit, which will gently infuse new aromas into the cocktail as it melts.
  • Food pairing: The lemon-heavy taste profile makes this drink the ideal companion to fish and seafood meals;
  • Have some gin on hand. Let your guests bounce between two delicious cocktails by having both bourbon and gin available.

Which Type of Whiskey Should You Use?

Most bartenders use bourbon whiskey for the John Collins, but other types also work well, depending on what flavors you want.

Unlike other spirits, whiskey will come through in the cocktail, no matter how many ingredients you have. Bourbon has a sweeter flavor that complements the blend well, but Irish whiskey gives it more fruity aromas. If you want fewer whiskey notes, Tennessee whiskey has the mildest flavor profile.

John Collins Recipe Variations

Give these other great recipe ideas a shot after you’ve tasted the classic John Collins:

  • Tom Collins: Uses gin but the rest of the ingredients stay the same. The original recipe calls for Tom Gin, but feel free to use anything you have.
  • Joe Collins: Not a fan of either whiskey or gin? This variation uses vodka instead.
  • Pedro Collins: Use light white rum to get a sweeter and more tropical drink.

You can make any other variation you want by replacing the base spirit with anything you want. But consider these other ingredient swaps, too:

  • Use lime juice instead of lemon.
  • Swap the plain soda for something fruitier.
  • Use fruit syrups to sweeten your cocktail and add more flavor.


If you are already a fan of the gin version of this drink, stir yourself a classic John Collins to experience the unique notes that only whiskey can provide.

Serve it during a house party, or sip it by the pool to cool off on a hot day by yourself.

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Teddy Francisco
Teddy Francisco
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