Bitter Collins


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Introduction to the Bitter Collins

Welcome to the world of the Bitter Collins, a sophisticated twist on the classic Tom Collins cocktail. This bittersweet concoction is a dance of gin and Campari, harmonized with lemon juice and simple syrup, topped with a fizz of club soda. It’s a refreshing choice for a summer afternoon or a chic evening soiree.

The Bitter Collins brings a unique balance of flavors to the table, making it an intriguing option for those who appreciate a cocktail with depth. Its history is rooted in the classic Collins family, but with a modern, bitter edge that sets it apart.

Stay with us as we delve into the essence of this vibrant cocktail, from its rich history to the nuances of its flavor profile. Whether you’re a seasoned mixologist or a curious enthusiast, the Bitter Collins is a drink that promises to captivate your palate.

Key Facts About the Bitter Collins

  • Alcohol Volume: Approximately 22% ABV (44 proof)
  • Calories: Approximately 200 kcal
  • Glass Type: Traditionally served in a Collins glass
  • Typical Garnish: Orange slice and a maraschino cherry

Interesting Facts about the Bitter Collins

The Bitter Collins is not just a drink; it’s a statement. Its bittersweet profile is a nod to the complexity of modern palates. The cocktail’s vibrant color is as captivating as its taste, making it a visual and sensory delight. Moreover, the inclusion of Campari, an Italian aperitif, gives the drink an international flair that’s both timeless and trendy.

Bitter Collins Cocktail

Tasting Notes on the Bitter Collins

The Bitter Collins is a symphony of flavors, with the juniper notes of gin and the herbal bitterness of Campari at the forefront. The tartness of fresh lemon juice cuts through the sweetness of the simple syrup, while the club soda adds a refreshing effervescence that lifts the entire drink.

This cocktail is perfect for those who enjoy a drink with a complex flavor profile. It’s suited for a variety of occasions, from a casual brunch to an elegant dinner party. The Bitter Collins is versatile, making it a favorite among those who appreciate the classics with a twist.

History of the Bitter Collins

The Bitter Collins is a contemporary variation of the Tom Collins, a cocktail that has been enjoyed since the 19th century. The original Collins is believed to have been named after a practical joke that became popular in New York in 1874, known as “The Great Tom Collins Hoax.”

As the story goes, people would be told that a man named Tom Collins was speaking ill of them in a nearby bar. When they rushed to confront him, they found no such person, but were instead offered a refreshing gin-based cocktail by the same name.

The Bitter Collins emerged as a modern take on this classic, introducing the Italian aperitif Campari into the mix. This addition transformed the drink, giving it a distinctive bitter edge and a deeper flavor profile that has captivated cocktail enthusiasts worldwide.

Bitter Collins Ingredients

  • Gin (2 oz / 60 ml): The base spirit, providing a crisp and botanical foundation.
  • Campari (1 oz / 30 ml): Adds a bitter complexity and vibrant red hue.
  • Fresh Lemon Juice (1 oz / 30 ml): Offers a zesty sharpness that balances the sweetness.
  • Simple Syrup (1/2 oz / 15 ml): Sweetens the drink to a perfect equilibrium.
  • Club Soda: Tops the cocktail, adding a refreshing fizz.
  • Garnish: An orange slice and maraschino cherry add a touch of fruitiness and color.

Did you know? The Bitter Collins is as much about the visual appeal as it is about taste. Its striking red color is a feast for the eyes, setting the stage for a truly immersive drinking experience.

Preparing Bitter Collins

Bitter Collins Method

Preparing the Glass

Start by filling a Collins glass with ice cubes to chill the glass and prepare it for the cocktail.

Mixing the Ingredients

Pour the gin, Campari, lemon juice, and simple syrup over the ice. The order doesn’t affect the taste, but it’s customary to start with the spirits.

Stirring the Cocktail

Use a bar spoon to stir the mixture well. This ensures that all the ingredients are evenly distributed and the flavors meld together harmoniously.

Adding the Fizz

Top the drink with club soda, adjusting the amount to suit your taste. The soda should add a light effervescence without overpowering the other flavors.


Garnish with a slice of orange and a maraschino cherry. These not only add a pop of color but also complement the bitter and sweet notes of the drink.


Provide a straw for sipping and serve immediately. The Bitter Collins is best enjoyed fresh and cold.

Serving Suggestion for the Bitter Collins

The Bitter Collins is traditionally served in a Collins glass, which is tall and narrow, allowing the carbonation of the club soda to remain effervescent. The glass’s shape also provides ample room for ice, keeping the drink cool.

Garnishes play a crucial role in the presentation and aroma of the cocktail. An orange slice adds a citrusy fragrance, while the maraschino cherry offers a hint of sweetness and an elegant visual touch.

Elevating the Bitter Collins

  • Quality Ingredients: Use premium gin and fresh-squeezed lemon juice for the best flavor.
  • Proper Dilution: Stir the cocktail with ice until it’s well-chilled, but not overly diluted.
  • Balance: Adjust the simple syrup and Campari to find the perfect balance between sweet and bitter to suit your palate.

Bitter Collins Cocktail Served

Substitutions and Alternatives for the Bitter Collins

If Campari is too bitter for your taste, consider using Aperol for a sweeter and less intense flavor. For a non-alcoholic version, replace the gin with a non-alcoholic spirit or additional club soda.

Similar cocktails include the Negroni, which also features Campari but with the addition of sweet vermouth, and the Aperol Spritz, a lighter, bubbly alternative.

Add a Twist to the Bitter Collins

Experiment with different garnishes, such as a sprig of rosemary or a twist of grapefruit peel, to add a new dimension to the drink. Infuse the simple syrup with herbs or spices for an aromatic twist.

For a smoky variant, use mezcal instead of gin. The smokiness of mezcal paired with the bitterness of Campari creates a complex and intriguing flavor profile.

Preferred Liquors for the Bitter Collins

For the gin, consider using a London Dry style for its classic juniper-forward flavor. Brands like Beefeater or Tanqueray are excellent choices. When it comes to Campari, there’s no substitute for the original to achieve the authentic Bitter Collins taste.

Similar Cocktails to the Bitter Collins

If you enjoy the Bitter Collins, you might also like the Americano, which is made with Campari, sweet vermouth, and club soda. The Gin Fizz is another option, similar in preparation but without the bitter element of Campari.

Food Pairings to go with the Bitter Collins

The Bitter Collins pairs well with light appetizers such as bruschetta or a charcuterie board. Its acidity and effervescence can cut through the richness of cheese or cured meats.

For a more adventurous pairing, try it with spicy Asian dishes. The cocktail’s citrus and bitter notes can complement the heat and flavors of the cuisine.

Bitter Collins FAQs

Can I make a Bitter Collins without gin? Yes, you can substitute gin with vodka for a less botanical flavor.

Is the Bitter Collins suitable for those who don’t like bitter drinks? If you’re sensitive to bitterness, reduce the amount of Campari or replace it with Aperol.

How can I make my Bitter Collins less sweet? Decrease the amount of simple syrup or use a sugar-free alternative.

What’s the best time to serve a Bitter Collins? It’s a versatile cocktail, perfect for any occasion, but especially refreshing during the warmer months.

Can I batch prepare Bitter Collins for a party? Yes, mix all ingredients except the club soda in advance and top with soda just before serving.

Bitter Collins_001

Bitter Collins

The Bitter Collins is a tangy twist on the classic Tom Collins, incorporating the bitter flavor of Campari to add depth and complexity to this refreshing highball cocktail.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
0 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Course Cocktail
Servings 1 cocktail
Calories 200 kcal


  • Collins glass
  • Measuring Jigger
  • Bar spoon
  • Straw (optional)


  • 2 oz Gin
  • 1 oz Campari
  • 1 oz Fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz Simple syrup
  • Club soda to top
  • Garnish: Orange slice and a maraschino cherry


  • Fill a Collins glass with ice cubes.
  • Pour the gin, Campari, lemon juice, and simple syrup into the glass.
  • Stir well to mix the ingredients.
  • Top with club soda to your preference.
  • Garnish with a slice of orange and a maraschino cherry.
  • Serve with a straw and enjoy!


For a less bitter variant, reduce the amount of Campari to 1/2 oz (15 ml). Adjust the simple syrup to balance the sweetness to your liking.
Keyword Bitter Collins, Bittersweet, Campari, Club Soda, Cocktail, Gin, Highball, lemon juice, Refreshing, Simple Syrup

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