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Hutch’s Happy Hour – Elderflower Collins Cocktail Recipe

After my partner in crime’s take over of the happy hour blog in January it’s back to business as usual, with me… Hutch… here to talk to you about new cocktails.

I say new, for those of you that watch us live each month this one may be familiar to you as it was the chosen cocktail for our guest in December, Natasha (Natasha Gulliford – a floral artist and textile designer). That cocktail was the Elderflower Collins; a refreshingly zingy classic with a fresh, floral twist. Whilst that might not sound like a very seasonal offering; I felt with Spring on the horizon and latest government announcement bringing a glimmer of light at the end of this lockdown tunnel it was rather well suited. One of those where after a tough week at work or manic day trying to home school the kids, you can easily mix up, sit back, relax and breathe a sigh of relief. And for me at least, that’s kind of how I felt after the roadmap was announced (and I was able to get my head around what each phase actually meant). It’s been a long and incredibly tough year, and I’m clinging on to that glimmer of light we’ve been given and looking forward to being able to share cocktails with friends and family in person.

I mentioned it being a classic, and I’ll go into that a little more later, but for now lets get on to how you make this version I’m hear to tell you about now.

Elderflower Collins in a cut glass on a marble board with a lemon garnish. Image by London wedding photographer Amanda Karen Photography for Hutch's Happy Hour

Elderflower Collins Ingredients

  • 60ml Gin [Hutch recommends – Canaima Gin]
  • 30ml Elderflower cordial [Hutch recommends – Bottle Green]
  • 30ml Lemon juice
  • Sparkling water
  • Lemon slice to garnish

Alcohol free variation – for an alcohol-free version, gin 60ml of GinISH or Lyre’s Dry London Spirit

Tips #1 – I’ve discovered that Bottle Green elderflower cordial is a much more concentrated flavour than other brands, turns out it’s made differently; so if you are using a different brand you may need to double the quantity to what is suggested above.

Tip #2 – Lemon juice and sparkling water can be replaced with a traditional sparkling cloudy lemonade

How to make an Elderflower Collins

  • Grab yourself a collins or highball glass and fill two thirds with ice
  • Pour in the gin, elderflower cordial and lemon juice
  • Stir together and add a little more ice if needed
  • Top up with sparkling water and garnish with lemon
Elderflower Collins in a cut glass on a marble board with a lemon garnish. Image by London wedding photographer Amanda Karen Photography for Hutch's Happy Hour

You know it’s a classic drink when there’s a glass style named after it, and it’s no different for the Collins cocktail. There is such thing as a Collins glass which is generally taller and narrower than a typical highball style glass. And as is the case with many classics, popular variations of the original have been developed and become popular in their own right, rendering the term “Collins” as much a style of drink as it is a classic cocktail in it’s own right.

Typically a Collins cocktail is a sour drink made with a base spirit, lemon juice, a form of sweetener (usually sugar) and sparkling water. All served in a Collins glass over ice. So in the Elderflower Collins we just made, I simply replaced the sugar element with a flavoured cordial; giving a reduction in straight up sweetness for an added flavour profile to give a little more depth to the drink as a whole. It’s recipes like the Collins I really love because the basic elements that make up the cocktail are so easy to see, it makes it really easy to play around and create your very own variant.

It is thought that the original Collins drink was adapted from a gin punch created by a bartender, named John Collins, working at Limmer’s Hotel in London during the early 1800s. Whether it was John himself who was responsible for the adaptation and naming or one of the other origin stories coming from across the pond in either New York or San Francisco; it is generally considered that Johns gin punch was the original.

As I say, there have been many variations of Collins created over the years; with Tom, the original, and John both being gin based and probably the most well-known variants. It’s one of those cocktails that works with almost every base spirit you can think of so no excuses not to give it a whirl. If you don’t have gin to hand then give Colonel Collins a go by replacing the gin with bourbon; or use a light rum to create a Pedro Collins. Or introducing brandy, tequila or vodka to the mix will bring Pierre, Pepito and Joe Collins’ to the party.

Using my recipe for the elderflower collins above, simply swap the gin for your spirit of choice and the cordial for 15ml of sugar syrup; and you’ll no doubt have yourself a Collins you’ll quickly become a fan of.

Cheers,

Hutch

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