John Collins Cocktail Recipe with Bourbon Whiskey

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The John Collins cocktail makes fantastic use of not-so-special bourbon whiskey. It turns out by adding some lemon juice, a little sugar and some carbonation, you can turn it into a very tasty and refreshing cocktail.

John Collins cocktail with lemon slices

The John Collins is a popular drink people have enjoyed for over a century. It may have begun as a renamed Tom Collins cocktail, which is basically a fizzy lemonade spiked with gin.

But it’s silly to have one drink with two different names, so overtime for John Collins has evolved to be be made with bourbon whiskey instead of gin.

You may note that the ingredients are a lot like the Whiskey Sour, except that the John Collins includes club soda while the Whiskey Sour includes an egg white (in one version).

Ingredients for a Classic John Collins Drink

The classic John Collins recipe calls for:

  • Bourbon
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Simple syrup (you can make your own)
  • Club soda

Other ingredients that can be added to the John Collins recipe include:

For the bourbon, you can use anything drinkable. Jack or Makers Mark are both great.

How to Make a John Collins Cocktail

You’re going to mix all of the ingredients except the club soda in a shaker with ice. Once they’re shaken and chilled, you strain that into your Collins glass, and then top it off with the club soda,

Expert Tips for the John Collins Drink

If you’re looking to make the perfect John Collins cocktail, follow these expert tips:

Use fresh ingredients

Fresh ingredients are essential for creating a delicious John Collins cocktail. Be sure to use freshly squeezed lemon juice and garnish with a slice of fresh lemon.

Make your own sugar syrup

Bottled simple syrup is generally pretty tasty, but you can whip up a batch of sugar syrup at home in just a few minutes.

Try different types of bourbon

You don’t need to spend a lot on any bourbon you’re putting in a cocktail. Any blended bourbon will do fine. But they do all have slightly different tastes.

If you want to try a better bottle to elevate your John Collins drink, try Woodford Reserve or Wild Turkey 101. Or experiment with a small batch bottle.

Club soda substitutes

Any unsweetened sparkling water will work in place of club soda. Soda water is another option. The point of this ingredient in the drink is to give you bubbles and balance the sweetness of the drink with a hint of bitter mineral flavor.

Serving the John Collins Cocktail Recipe

For parties, you can making a large batch of everything but the club soda for the John Collins in a pitcher. Put it on a table with club soda, and tell guests how much of each to pour, and they can serve themselves.

This is an ideal drink for cooling down on a hot day, especially one spent out of doors. It also goes surprisingly well with a lot of meals, since the dominant note is simply lemon.

Enjoy Your John Collins

The John Collins cocktail is a timeless classic. Whether you prefer the classic recipe or enjoy changing it up for your own taste, it’s a fun drink to have at home.

John Collins cocktail with lemon slices

John Collins Cocktail

Yield: 1 drink
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Total Time: 3 minutes


  • 2 ounces bourbon
  • 1 ounce lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon superfine sugar
  • 3 ounces club soda


  1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice cubes.
  2. Pour in the bourbon, lemon juice and sugar and shake well.
  3. Fill a collins glass most of the way with ice cubes.
  4. Strain the mixture into the glass.
  5. Pour in the club soda and stir.
  6. Garnish with a cherry and/or lemon slice.

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Last Updated:

November 30, 2023