Vodka is arguably one of the most popular spirits in the bar–being extremely palatable, with many, many flavors to choose from, and even the “better/top” brands being super affordable.
The Vodka Collins, essentially a sweet and sour vodka soda, is easy to mix up, uses just a few ingredients that you already have at home, and is extremely refreshing. This cocktail is a great choice for happy hour but is just as at home as an accompaniment to dinner.
The Vodka Collins is similar to other “Collins” recipes and sticks pretty closely to the tried and true formula of spirit, sour, sweet, and soda and is nearly identical to the Tom Collins (which uses gin) and the John Collins (which uses whiskey). If you really want to impress your buddies, let them know that this version is technically called the Joe Collins, but that name rarely gets used, so don’t go into the bar asking for one–you’re going to hear crickets!
Without further ado, let’s jump into the delicious Vodka Collins.
What Is A Vodka Collins?
The Vodka Collins recipe consists of a few, very simple ingredients.
The four ingredients you will need to mix up The Vodka Collins will be:
- Lemon Juice (fresh juice will always be best)
- Sparkling water (club soda or seltzer water)
The vodka will be the main character, with the lemon juice making it bright, and the sparkling water giving you that fizz that you love. If you want to get fancy with your bartending skills, you can include a maraschino cherry or a slice of lemon, but it’s just for looks, not taste.
If you are curious as to what sweetener to use, well, that’s on you. I would strongly recommend a simple syrup. If you’re not sure what simple syrup is, I’ll fill you in a little further down in this article, however, you should use what you like best.
Other recipes out there will also call for using a soda as the sparkling water, such as Sprite or Cherry 7 Up. I’m not totally against this, it just alters the traditional flavor profile that you can expect from a Vodka Collins. If you want to stay with the classic taste, avoid sodas and stick with sparkling water of some type.
So, what is the exact breakdown of the Vodka Collins recipe? Here ya go!
The Vodka Collins Recipe
As with most any other cocktail out there, you can really play around with the Vodka Collins to make it taste how you’d like. I’ve seen people adding in everything from Limoncello, cucumber, honey, strawberries, rosemary, and every berry out there.
You can customize this drink to whatever your palate needs and enjoys. I would suggest that you give the original incarnation a try first, then add in your favorites to personalize it.
The original Vodka Collins recipe is as follows:
- 2 oz. Vodka (plain or flavored–just avoid anything like Whipped Cream or Chocolate)
- 0.5 oz. Simple Syrup
- 1 oz. Lemon Juice
- Soda Water
- 1 Cherry (optional)
- Add vodka, simple syrup, and lemon juice to a Collins glass. Add ice.
- Top with soda water.
- Add in a maraschino cherry or lemon slice if you like. Serve with a straw.
Most bartenders will add each ingredient directly to the serving glass, plop in some ice, then stir and serve. This is the original way that the Vodka Collins was prepared, however, if you’d like to, you can add each ingredient to a cocktail shaker with ice to better incorporate each. This method of mixing the Vodka Collins will dilute it slightly, so add less sparkling water.
Bonus: Simple Syrup Recipe
Many mixed drinks will call for something called “simple syrup.” Sure, you can pick up some at the store, but it is so easy to make on your own, why not give it a go?
The 1:1 simple syrup recipe is as follows:
- Combine 1 cup of granulated sugar in 1 cup of plain water in a medium saucepan on the stove.
- Bring the mixture to a boil, continuing to stir until the sugar is dissolved.
- Let cool completely before mixing into any drinks.
If you have a teapot or kettle, you can also add boiling water to the sugar in a mason jar, shaking it with the lid on and a towel covering the top, until the sugar is completely dissolved. Allow to cool and store in your refrigerator for up to two months.
There are variations on this recipe, as would be expected. You can double the sugar, making a rich simple syrup. You do have to make the rich version on the stovetop, a boiling kettle won’t do.
You can also use brown sugar to make a brown simple syrup and honey for honey syrup. With the number of sugars on the market, you can really customize your simple syrup for your preferences.
Final Thoughts On The Vodka Collins
If you like vodka and enjoy a refreshing cocktail on occasion, then you’re sure to enjoy The Vodka Collins. With it’s lemony notes and simple syrup, this cocktail will go down smoothly during happy hour, with your dinner, or on the back porch during those warm summer nights.
This delightful addition to the Collins family of adult beverages is sure to please, especially when you can also tweak it to meet your palate.