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Crystal Collins | The Better Cousin of Tom Collins?

tom collings cocktail and crystal collins

Hi, Friends of Cocktails. Today you’ll meet my good friend Tom, Tom Collins, but I’ll also introduce you to his cousin, Crystal Collins. We’ll find out how to make a Tom Collins version of a Clarified Mojito, which we tried a few months ago to great results. Having a completely clear cocktail that’s bursting with flavor is something that I’ll always be a fan of, and doing that with the Tom Collins combination of gin, lemon, simple syrup and soda water sounds wonderful to me.

Making the cocktail the way we’ll do it today also saves you time when you need to serve many cocktails as fast as possible, which is always a plus, right? So let’s elevate the Tom Collins together, but to see what we’re building on we’re starting with the classic Tom Collins. There’s plenty of different recipes, origin stories and stories about the adventures of Tom Collins out there - and we might cover all of that in a future episode - but let’s start. It’s Cocktail Time!

Tom Collins

● 60mL (2oz) London Dry Gin

● 22.5mL (0.75oz) Lemon Juice

● 22.5mL (0.75oz) Simple Syrup

● Soda water

● Lime peel

● Cocktail Cherry

Contrary to popular belief you don’t have to shake every single cocktail that has citrus juice in it - the aforementioned Mojito is a nice example. I like to build the Tom Collins as well, starting with a chilled highball glass filled with ice, then adding the gin, lemon juice and simple syrup. Afterwards, give everything a quick stir before topping it off with chilled soda water - since we didn’t shake the cocktail there’s less dilution already added, meaning we have more space in the glass for the bubbly water.

Lift and turn the cocktail to gently mix the ingredients before adding the garnish. I’m first expressing the lemon peel over the glass, then adding it to a cocktail pick together with a cocktail cherry. Now, let’s give this a try, before we make the Crystal Collins. Cheers! The cocktail is fresh and citrusy in aroma. The herbal character of the gin adds plenty of flavor and balances the sweet and sour elements, so it's crucial to choose a gin that suits your taste. Tom Collins is a light and perfect cocktail for the summer days.

So if it’s simple, delicious and the 4 components of the cocktail work together so well, what is there even to improve? Hold my Tom Collins. The secret is in the power of cordials, but the gin will play a big part as well. For the clarified cordial I did more than just combine the sweet and sour components, with three different citrus notes present, I’m calling it the Citrus Cubed Cordial. Spruce tips and sichuan pepper have their own resiny, grassy and spicy flavor profile of course, but also have a strong citrus element to them as well.

I specifically paired the Cordial with Monkey 47 gin, which was born in Germany's Black Forest, tying its flavor profile with our cordial. A touch of Dry Vermouth adds an interesting drying note that works great with gin in a Clover Club, and it works here too. Saline solution and soda water finish off the line-up, with spruce tips filling in for garnish in place of lemon peel. I’ll of course show you the whole process, but you can also find the full specs and step-by-step guidance in today’s sponsor: Vector Bar.

With not only the Crystal and Tom Collins, Vector Bar has over 600 cocktail recipes in it, with drink ratings from other Vector Bar users, to see what's popular. Or, in true Cocktail Time fashion, share custom recipes with friends or other bartenders, including photos of your creation. You might just get a "Cheers" from your Friends of cocktails too. If you’re not sure what to make, the app will show you what’s Ready Now, which you can even filter to see a list of drinks you’ve never made.

You can also see What's Almost Ready, if you’re missing just 1 ingredient, and What to Buy Next, with a new button to send you reminders for a shopping list - Green Chartreuse maybe? Thank you Vector Bar! You can find them in the appstore or on Now, before we build the cocktail it’s of course time to show you how I made the citrus cubed cordial.

Citrus Cubed Cordial

● 150g Water

● 80g Sugar

● 25g Honey

● 100g Lemon Juice

● 5g Lemon Peel

● 5g Citric Acid

● 1g Tartaric Acid

● 0.6g Sichuan Pepper

● 14g Spruce Tips

● 0.7g Agar Agar

Into a blender add all but the agar into a blender, then blend for at least 30 seconds before we move on to the next step, the clarification. For this, in a pot mix roughly a ¼ of the cordial with the agar agar, so we don’t have to heat up the whole thing. Agar needs heat to dissolve completely and activate, so once you get this to a simmer take it off the heat and pour in the rest of the cordial, stirring constantly. Once it’s fully dissolved into our entire cordial we need to chill this completely, so place it in an ice bath or in the freezer.

As the mixture cools, the agar agar forms a gel due to its unique properties. The gel forms a network structure throughout the liquid, which acts as a trap for impurities and particles present in the liquid. These impurities then become suspended within the gel, effectively clarifying the liquid. Once the gel has solidified enough, it’s easy to separate it from the clarified liquid. I’ll do this using a coffee filter. As always, the first liquid coming through might not be perfectly clear, so make sure to refilter that part once the solid particles create an additional filter.

After a while, once it’s all filtered, we can bottle and label our clarified citrus cordial and it’s ready to be used for the elevated Tom Collins.

Crystal Collins

● 45mL (1.5oz) Monkey 47 Schwarzwald Gin

● 30mL (1oz) Citrus Cubed Cordial

● 7.5mL (0.25oz) 9diDante Dry Vermouth

● 2 drops 20% Saline Solution

● Soda water

Just like with Clarified Mojito, this build couldn’t be simpler. Into a highball glass with a clear ice spear add all the ingredients, keeping the soda water for last. Afterwards lift to mix the ingredients and garnish with a spruce tip - clearly beautiful. Let’s try it, cheers!

It might look like it’s a vodka & soda, but this has plenty of citrus and subtle herbal aroma as well. On the palate, citrus flavors intertwine, where the piney notes of spruce tips complement the gin beautifully. Everything is balanced with a touch of spiciness and lemon, creating an exquisite and well-rounded Collins experience - and with that we’ve made it to the bottom of the glass. This time I don’t have a fun fact about the cocktail but something to think about when deciding how to add flavors to your cocktails.

Using a cordial gives you the option of infusing and combining flavors with cheaper ingredients then if you infuse a liqueur or spirit, with maceration, fat-washing, or sous-vide. Water, sugar and citrus will always be more forgiving and easier to test out in more batches. That way you’re not compromising the spirit that you’ll still want to use for other cocktails, so go make that cordial and start experimenting.

I’ll see you next week, with a very special Cocktail Time episode. Ciao, Friends of Cocktails! ;)

1 Comment

Becky Benally
Becky Benally
Jun 20, 2023

I have been intrigued at using evergreen in a cocktail and randomly on our way over the mountains in Oregon we stopped and I picked some fir tips, wasn't sure how much to get or what I would use them in but I think I will give this recipe a try! Oddly enough my cocktail senses must have been tingling as I picked 15g...just enough! We also picked up a local cucumber gin (each batch uses 500 cucumbers) on our way home that I might try in it. Thank you for the great inspiration and amazing recipes! 🍋

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