The Collins Family
Today was the first day of the year where the mercury hit 20°C so it’s time to mix up some spring drinks. Say “Hi” to the Collins family. This is a family that can move into my neighbourhood any time they like. They’re a friendly and easy going bunch – and there are just so many of them. While technically a mixed drink – or cooler – rather than a true cocktail, we’ll forgive the Collins due to its ease of preparation and sheer tastiness. You don’t need much to make a Collins – a tall glass, ice, lemon juice, simple syrup, soda water, your spirit of choice and a spoon. Nothing too challenging there then, right? Heck, you don’t even have to bust out the shaker for this one. You can mix up a tray of these at a BBQ or other outdoor party without breaking sweat. Having said that, if you’re thinking isn’t that basically just gin and 7Up? you would be wrong. Very wrong. My advice is to start with John or Tom Collins before introducing yourself to the rest of the family. No one can agree on whether the Collins brothers are English or American, or whether John or Tom is the eldest. Indeed there’s a bit of uncertainty about the rest of the family too but as far as I can tell it goes something like this:
Tom Collins – London dry gin (but originally Old Tom gin, which was sweeter.)
John Collins – jenever (aka Dutch gin, Hollands gin or even Geneva gin in older recipes.)*
Jock or Sandy Collins – Scotch whisky
Captain Collins – Canadian whisky (not sure why.)
Colonel Collins – Bourbon (I’m seeing possibilities for a Jack or Jim Collins here too.)*
Pedro Collins – white rum
Juan or Pepito Collins – tequila
Michael Collins – Irish whiskey (clever one that.)
Pierre Collins – Cognac
Joe Collins – Vodka (why? Surely it should be Ivan.)
Personally I think the John Collins is wrongly named as Jan is the Dutch equivalent of John. It’s also my favourite Collins. So:
Into a tall, ice filled glass add:
1.5 – 2oz jenever (or your spirit of choice, remembering to change the name appropriately.)
1oz fresh lemon juice
0.75oz simple syrup
Top up with soda and give a good stir.
Serve with a straw.
Toast whichever Collins you picked.
* It should be noted that a John Collins in the USA is generally taken to mean a Bourbon based Collins. When John switched from being gin to Bourbon isn’t clear but (especially in the US) if in doubt be clear on exactly which base spirit you wanted to have in your Collins.