Lesson Two: Recipes

Chapter Four: Internal Air-Conditioning, aka The John Collins

Supporting Cast:
Tom Collins

The 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.

Tom Collins

A simpler, cleaner version of the John Collins, the Tom Collins probably took its name from the use of Old Tom gin, an old-fashioned style of lightly sweetened, aromatic gin. What? Can’t find Old Tom? That’s okay; hardly anyone can—it’s been out of style until very recently. If you’re a true believer, go find Ransom from Oregon (and others still emerging) but if not, no matter. The standard London dry gin works just fine. As a summer cooler, only the Mojito, the Paloma, and the Gin Rickey (gin, half a lime, ice, soda—and that’s it) can rival it.

2 ounces gin
1/2 ounce lemon juice
1 teaspoon superfine sugar
To finish: chilled fizz water

Combine in a “Collins” glass with 4 or 5 ice cubes, stir well, and top off with fizz water. Straw.

Substitutions: Not Collins mix. Lime for the lemon; simple syrup or just about any citrusy or fruity liqueur for the sugar (to taste, but go easy).


What the Mexican people drink instead of Margaritas. Personally, when it comes to drinking tequila I figure they know best. The tequila some like to use is a 100 percent agave reposado, which will have spent a couple of months in wood—just long enough to give it a little color but not so long as to mask the tang of the agave. Between the sweetness of the soda, the sourness of the lime, the bitterness of the grapefruit, and the saltiness of the salt, the Paloma covers four of the five things to which the tongue greatly responds.

Recommended brands of grapefruit soda: Jarritos, from Mexico, or Ting, from Jamaica. Failing that, anything.

2 ounces reposado tequila
Juice of 1/2 lime (save the squeezed out shell for garnish)
Pinch of salt
To finish: grapefruit soda

Combine in a “Collins” glass, add ice and the squeezed-out lime half, and top off with grapefruit soda.

Tom Collins

Ryan Demonstrates How To Make a Tom Collins.

Tom Collins
1.5 oz of London Dry or Old Tom Gin
3/4 oz Fresh squeezed lemon juice
3/4 oz simple syrup
Add ice and shake
Strain into tall collins glass
Top off with club soda
Garnish with slice of orange and maraschino cherry.

Reproduced from “Killer Cocktails” by David Wondrich.