Meet the Collins Family: 6 Twists On The Classic Tom Collins Recipe | VinePair

Meet the Collins Family: 6 Twists On The Classic Tom Collins

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A Tom Collins is a classic — and one that’s pretty much idiot-proof. Shake three easily acquired ingredients, strain, add soda water, grab a straw, and drink. The beauty of that simplicity isn’t only that you can enjoy one with little work. It’s also that you can go Mad Scientist with the ingredients and almost guarantee you won’t blow anything up.

In fact, there’s a whole family of Collins drinks, including John, Michael, and Phil. Try all the recipes from Gates Otsuji, chef de bar for The Standard, below and see which family member is your favorite. Watch out for Tom, though — nobody really knows where he came from. Some say it evolved out of the Great Tom Collins Hoax of 1874 , while others claim a London bartender named John Collins created the drink.

Those who credit the Brit say he worked at Limmer’s Hotel, which was famous for its gin punch. John came up with a twist on the punch that became popular itself, and eventually British soldiers brought it to the U.S. But, because Americans love to bastardize everything, they preferred to make the drink with sweeter Old Tom gin (rather than London gin), and hence they christened the cocktail “Tom Collins.”

Here are six versions you absolutely must try at home:

Tom Collins

Tom Collins

The classic.

Recipe:

  • 1 dash orange bitters
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup
  • 3/4 ounce lemon juice
  • 2 ounces Old Tom Gin
  • seltzer
  • 1 lemon wedge, for garnish

Instructions:

In an ice-filled shaker, combine orange bitters, simple syrup, lemon juice, and gin. Shake briefly to chill. Strain into a Collins glass over fresh ice and top with seltzer. Garnish with a lemon wedge.

Ron Collins

Ron Collins

If you’re feeling indulgent, substitute Jarritos Pineapple Soda for the seltzer, Otsuji suggests.

Recipe:

  • 2 lime wedges
  • 1 orange wedge
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • 1/2 ounce rich demerara syrup
  • 1/2 ounce calamansi juice
  • 2 ounces spiced rum
  • Seltzer
  • 1 pineapple wedge, for garnish

Instructions:

Place lime and orange wedges in a shaker and crush with a muddler. Fill shaker with ice and add Angostura bitters, demerara syrup, kalamansi juice, and rum. Shake briefly to chill. Strain into a Collins glass over fresh ice and top with seltzer. Garnish with pineapple wedge.

John Collins

John Collins

Just a suggestion from Otsuji: Add a handful of fresh basil leaves to the shaker.

Recipe:

  • 2 ounces bourbon
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • 1/2 ounce rich demerara syrup
  • 3/4 ounce lemon juice
  • Seltzer
  • 1 orange wedge, for garnish

Instructions:

Pour bourbon into an ice-filled shaker and add Angostura bitters, demerara syrup, and lemon juice. Shake briefly to chill. Strain into a Collins glass over fresh ice and top with seltzer. Garnish with orange wedge.

Michael Collins

Michael Collins

Feeling lucky? Add a cinnamon stick to your simple syrup during preparation, and let it sit overnight. Use this cinnamon syrup in place of simple syrup in the cocktail for an added zing, Otsuji says.

Recipe:

  • 2 ounces Irish whiskey
  • 3/4 ounce lime juice
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup
  • Seltzer
  • 1 lime wheel, for garnish

Instructions:

In an ice-filled shaker, combine whiskey, lime juice, and simple syrup. Shake briefly to chill. Strain into a Collins glass over fresh ice and top with seltzer. Garnish with lime wheel.

Phil Collins

Phil Collins

If you feel like marching to the beat of a different drummer, swap out the cucumber for fresh watermelon and a pinch of salt, Otsuji suggests.

Recipe:

  • 2 slices cucumber
  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 1/4 ounce Green Chartreuse
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup
  • 1/4 ounce cranberry juice
  • 3/4 ounce lime juice
  • Seltzer
  • 1 long cucumber slice, for garnish

Instructions:

Muddle cucumber in a shaker. Add ice, vodka, Chartreuse, simple syrup, cranberry juice, and lime juice. Shake briefly to chill. Fine-strain into a Collins glass over fresh ice and top with seltzer. Insert cucumber slice vertically into the glass.

Bootsy Collins

Bootsy Collins

Want it even more psychedelic? Then get your hands on some B’lure Butterfly Pea Flower Extract, Otsuji says. It reacts to pH, so a few drops will change your drink from green to blue to magenta.

Recipe:

  • Fresh basil leaves
  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 2 dashes orange bitters
  • 3/4 ounce bergamot juice
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup
  • Prosecco
  • 1 large basil leaf

Instructions:

Spank a handful of fresh basil leaves and place them into a shaker. Fill the shaker with ice, then add vodka, orange bitters, bergamot juice, and simple syrup. Shake briefly to chill. Fine-strain into a Collins glass over fresh ice and top with Prosecco. To garnish, submerge basil leaf around the inside of the glass.

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