John Collins

Along with the seersucker suit and the Panama hat, the Collins used to be one of the vital amino acids without which civilization would’ve gone legs-up right after Memorial Day. In the days before shorts, T-shirts and universal air-conditioning, there was something not unattractive about a very tall glass inhabited by ice, lemon juice, sugar, and fizzy water—oh yeah, and gin. Plenty of gin. From before the Civil War, when it edged out the venerable Mint Julep, to after the Second World War, when the plucky new Gin and Tonic edged it out in turn, “Collins” was practically synonymous with “triple-H” tippling. Even if nobody could exactly agree on what Mr. Collins’s first name was. Originally, you see, it was John—as in John Collins, the waiter at London’s Limmer’s Hotel who brought the posh clientele round after round of the establishment’s famous fizzy gin punch. Then came Tom, Dick, and Harry. But forget them for now—of all the Collinses, Old John is still the tastiest. Here’s a pretty good stab at what himself would’ve been handing around.

2 ounces Bols genever gin
1/2 ounce lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons maraschino liqueur
To finish: chilled fizz water

Combine in a “Collins” glass with 4 or 5 ice cubes, stir, and top off with fizz water. Add straw. (Note: since the Collins and its ilk are served on the rocks, rather than strained off the ice like Fizzes and Daisys, you don’t have to bother chilling the glass.)

Substitutions: See the Tom Collins, which follows.

ff-15