What’s the difference between a John & Tom Collins?

John or Tom Collins

The Collins cocktail is one of my favourite, go-to long drinks as there are so many simple variations that will please any discerning drinker.

There are plenty of debates between the names, the types of spirit used and whether to add bitters or not but this is my take of the classic Collins’ cocktail.

The basic collins recipe consists of:

  • 45mL Liquor
  • 30mL Lemon Juice
  • 15mL Sugar Syrup
  • 60mL Soda


Made using Genever (also known as Jenever and Hollands Gin). Genever is a product category of its own and can only be produced in particular regions in Holland. Typically sweet and less aromatic than a London Dry Gin. Many famous cocktails such as the Collins were originally made with Genever.

John Collins

(John Collins Recipe)
Made using a London Dry Gin. As it’s name suggests, a London Dry Gin cannot contain a great deal of added sugars. Gin derives its predominant flavour from juniper berries with the addition of botanicals.
Also note that there are many references to the John Collins being made with Bourbon Whisky.

Tom Collins

(Tom Collins Recipe)
Made using an Old Tom Gin. Made in a pot still and is typically a sweeter style gin. This style of gin was hard to come by in recent times but has had a resurgence thanks to Hayman’s and several other brands.

Vodka Collins

Made using, well, vodka – duh! I would reserve a vodka collins to be mixed with fresh fruit and purees to make a sweeter collins ie. Passionfruit Vodka Collins, Raspberry Vodka Collins, etc.

Jose Collins

A less common Collins made with tequila.

Ron Collins

Made using a white rum such as Bacardi. Years ago I stumbled across a recipe for a Raspberry Ron Collins which called for an aged rum, white rum, a hint of butterscotch and fresh raspberries. Definitely a super-sweet Collins in comparison to your more commonly sipped John Collins.

 Who is your favourite Collins?


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  • Reply
    Heidi innes
    May 18, 2017 at 12:44 am

    Me and my friend were out last week . Drinking John Collins . It looks like none of these pictures. It had cucumber all though it it was so refreshing. I’d love to know what was in that one ?…….!!!!!

  • Reply
    Amanda Moore
    March 13, 2018 at 8:19 am

    Love the sound of the Ron Collins. How is the hint of butterscotch achieved please? Amanda Moore

    • Reply
      Steve the Bartender
      March 21, 2018 at 8:04 am

      With a small touch of butterscotch schhnapps 🙂

      • Reply
        Amanda Moore
        March 22, 2018 at 7:20 am

        Thank you will give it a try. X A

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