The Collins is a quintessential classic cocktail that combines gin, simple syrup, lemon juice and soda. As with many classic drinks, the origin is often up for debate. The Tom Collins first appears in the 1876 edition of Jerry Thomas’ “The Bartender’s Guide
” but (according to BAR) it got its start as a way to stretch out a Gin Punch using iced soda water at the Limmer Hotel in London. The Tom Collins has been made with gin, genever gin and old tom gin throughout various points in history and in 1874 was the brunt of a national joke (known as The Great Tom Collins hoax of 1874) where people would go around asking people if they’ve seen “Tom Collins”.
The drink would evolve with American whiskey standing in the place of gin and taking on the name John Collins (after the headwaiter at the Limmer Hotel who supposedly invented the original drink). When vodka exploded it founds its way to the Collins family in the plainly named Vodka Collins.
It was probably only a matter of time before other spirits got into the Collins game, and one of the best of these that I’ve tried is the Juan Collins from Tommy “Tweed” Klus, mixologist and bar manager for Bluehour in Portland, Oregon. Using both blanco tequila and mescal, adding in strawberries, and swapping Mexican Coca Cola for the soda water, the Juan Collins joins some of the great classic versions of one of the key classic cocktails.
Here’s the cocktail recipe for the Juan Collins:
Muddle 1-2 small strawberries in mixing glass
2 oz blanco tequila
1 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
3/4 oz 1:1 cane syrup (best to use evaporated cane juice sugar)
1/4 oz crema de mezcal
Shake, add 2 oz Mexican Coca Cola to tin
Double strain over fresh ice into a Collins glass. Garnish lime wedge.
The result is an extremely delicious and refreshing drink that both captures the essence of a great classic cocktail and modernizes it.