A whole family of Collins cocktails exists—John, Ron, Michael and so on—but the most well-known is the classic Tom Collins. The Collins formula is simple: a base spirit, citrus, a sweetener and a carbonated ingredient; shake all but the carbonated beverage, strain into a tall glass over ice, then add the bubbles.
The brilliance of this classic format is that it’s approachable for a home cocktail enthusiast who’s just beginning to try their hand at cocktailing, but its potential is vast. Split the base, add a liqueur, blend your citrus or add a fortified wine—the riffs are virtually endless.
To inspire you beyond the classic Tom Collins, we’ve rounded up six variations to try whenever you’re looking to make something new.
Cucumber & Rose Collins
The name alone says it all. This Collins marries floral and clean vegetal notes using a rose syrup and fresh cucumber water to complement the botanicals of the gin base. The extra effort it takes to make the ingredients is well worth it, as this cocktail makes the perfect palate cleanser.
High King Highball
The High King Highball was created by the co-owner of New York City’s Pouring Ribbons, Joaquín Simó. A fruity apple-forward Irish whiskey base is paired with Aperol, muddled raspberries, lemon and grapefruit juices, simple syrup, Peychaud’s bitters and soda water. It’s juicy, visually appealing and guaranteed to turn whiskey doubters into believers.
When people think of tequila cocktails, the Paloma is one of the first that comes to mind, behind the queen Margarita, of course. It’s a simple formula of tequila, lime juice and grapefruit soda, but it delivers on all fronts: It’s herbal, vegetal, fruity and slightly tart. If you’re a fan of mezcal, swap it in for the tequila for a drier, smokier, earthier take on the classic Collins-style cocktail.
Pear & Elderflower Collins
This drink from award-winning bartender Naren Young pairs tree-fruit and floral notes to create an elixir evoking fall flavors. It can be made with either vodka or gin, but the latter will provide more depth and nuance to this fizzy sour. He adds elderflower liqueur, pear two ways (purée and liqueur), lemon juice and honey syrup, then tops it all with club soda.Continue to 5 of 6 below.
Spiced Apple Fizz
This flavor-packed fizz, another from Young, pairs a delicate vanilla-forward bison grass vodka with pear brandy, cider, fresh lemon juice and honey syrup. The deployment of cider as the lengthener for this Collins-style cocktail adds sweetness and a crisp acidity, making it the perfect cooler.
Sloe Gin Fizz
Long an English autumn staple, sloe gin is a sweet and tart gin that’s infused with dark sloe berries to create a lush red liqueur with strong notes of gin botanicals. It gained popularity in the early 20th century, only to fall by the wayside by the 1960s. In recent years, however, the spirit has enjoyed an impressive revival and can now be found on cocktail menus all over the world. While this drink is sometimes made with egg white, this version keeps it simple in a Collins-style format and is a great low-ABV sipper.