John Collins Bourbon Whiskey Highball

John Collins bourbon whiskey highball with orange slice and cherry garnishes

The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

Prep: 3 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 3 mins
Serving: 1 serving
Yield: 1 cocktail
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
148 Calories
0g Fat
14g Carbs
0g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1
Amount per serving
Calories 148
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 9mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 14g 5%
Dietary Fiber 1g 3%
Total Sugars 11g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 15mg 75%
Calcium 23mg 2%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 82mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

The John Collins is a tasty bourbon sour drink that is perfect for any occasion. It makes an excellent everyday sipper that can be poured in just a few minutes. It is also a nice way to show off your favorite whiskey in a simple, refreshing style.

This is, essentially, a tall version of the Whiskey Sour. Other than the soda and ice (and maybe a few tweaks here and there), the Collins and sour are practically the same drink. This makes it very easy to remember both of these popular recipes, which all bartenders should know how to mix.

You really cannot go wrong with any bourbon in the John Collins. Choose your favorite or go with one with a big, bold flavor.


Click Play to See This Tasty John Collins Come Together

"The 'Collins' style of drink is a favorite in the summer months because it is essentially an effervescent lemonade with spirit. How can you go wrong? This recipe nicely balances the punch from whiskey, acid from lemon, and sweetness from simple syrup. Add bubbly water, and you have a wonderfully refreshing and bold cocktail." —Sean Johnson

John Collins in a glass with ice and a straw
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    John Collins bourbon whiskey highball ingredients gathered

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  2. Pour the bourbon, lemon juice, and syrup into a collins glass filled with ice cubes.

    Bourbon, lemon juice, and syrup in a Collins glass filled with ice cubes

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  3. Stir thoroughly.

    John Collins bourbon whiskey highball cocktail with a stirring spoon

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  4. Top with club soda.

    Bourbon, lemon juice, and syrup topped with club soda

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  5. Garnish with a cherry and orange slice. Serve and enjoy.

    John Collins bourbon whiskey highball topped with a cherry and an orange slice

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck


  • You can also shake this drink. To do so, secure a mixing tin on top of the glass and give the mix a quick shake prior to adding the soda.

More Tips for Making a Great John Collins

Bourbon is often preferred for the John Collins though it can be made with other styles of whiskey as well. Canadian, rye, and blended whiskeys are all popular options.

Irish whiskey is another possibility and you will want to be very selective if you want to use Scotch. A good blended Scotch may be best because it is a little more neutral than many of the other brands, particularly single malts.

In all 'Collins' drinks, there are two basic options for creating the sour component.

  • Make it with fresh lemon juice ​and simple syrup as in the recipe above.
  • Replace those two ingredients with a fresh-made sour mix (or commercial sour that is available at most liquor stores).

To keep a nice balance in the drink, it really is best to use fresh-squeezed lemon juice. By separating the sweet and sour, you have more control. You'll want that, especially as you experiment with whiskeys because you can adjust the two elements to fit the liquor you're pouring at the moment.

How Strong Is the John Collins?

Estimating the strength of a highball like the John Collins is difficult because the amount of soda poured is the unknown. On average, 2 ounces of soda is used to fill the glass, though this can be more or less given the bartender's pour style and size of the glass.

If we use an 80-proof whiskey and count on 2 ounces of soda, then the John Collins would have an alcohol content of around 11 percent ABV (22 proof). If you would like it a little weaker or stronger, add more soda or whiskey accordingly.

Exploring the Collins Family

There are many 'Collins' drinks that vary due to the base liquor used and all of them are good drinks to memorize. To remember the difference between the John and Tom Collins, I think of "John" as the macho whiskey drinker (also the Jimmy Dean song "Big Bad John") and associate "Tom" with gin.

The vodka collins is an easy one to remember because the liquor of choice is right there in the name. Similarly, you can recall that the tequila collins has a tequila base.

The Collins formula is easy to remember:

  • 1 1/2 parts Base Liquor
  • 1 part Sour
  • 1/2 part Sweet
  • Topped with Soda
  • Served over ice in a highball glass

Of course, those ratios will change slightly based on the spirit, but this will get you close.

From there, you can add ingredients to any collins recipe to come up with an entirely new drink. For instance, the American Collins add bing cherries and blueberries to the Tom Collins and the Lavender Sapphire Collins opts for a lavender-infused syrup. Come spring, you definitely have to try the Rhubarb Collins featuring a fresh rhubarb syrup against a gin background (though whiskey is fun as well).

Take your collins experience from there. The possibilities are endless and it's a ton of fun to see what you can come up with.