Red Grapefruit Collins Cocktail Recipe | THE NIBBLE Blog - Adventures In The World Of Fine Food RECIPE: Red Grapefruit Collins, For Valentine’s Day Or The Winter Blahs – THE NIBBLE Blog – Adventures In The World Of Fine Food
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RECIPE: Red Grapefruit Collins, For Valentine’s Day Or The Winter Blahs

Grapefruit Collins
[1] The Red Grapefruit Collins, made with red grapefruit juice (photo courtesy Elegant Affairs Caterers).

Tom Collins Drink
[2] A traditional Tom Collins (photo courtesy Tanqueray).


We have a passion for red grapefruit, deep in flavor and always refreshing. We try every recipe that comes our way.

Most recent is this Red Grapefruit Collins, which we adapted from one by Elegant Affairs Caterers in the greater New York area.

The original Tom Collins recipe is a mixture of gin, lemon juice, sugar and soda water, in a tall (a.k.a. collins) glass filled with ice. The classic garnish is a maraschino cherry and a lemon wedge.

Here, grapefruit juice substitutes for some of the lemon juice, plus the garnish; and the glass is rimmed Margarita-style, with coarse salt and grapefruit zest.

(BONUS TIP: Try mixing lime zest with the salt for your next Margarita rim. It really elevates the experience.)

(FOOD 101: types Of red grapefruit and the history of grapefruit.)

Ingredients Per Drink

  • Rim: grapefruit zest and coarse salt, mixed to taste
  • 2 ounces gin
  • ½ ounce fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 ounce fresh-squeezed red grapefruit juice (more to taste)
  • 1 ounce simple syrup
  • Ice
  • 3 ounces of sparkling water
  • Garnish: grapefruit wedges, mint Leaves

    1. RIM the glass with a grapefruit wedge and dip the moist edge into the grapefruit zest-salt mixture.

    2. ADD the gin, lemon juice, grapefruit juice and simple syrup to a shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into the glass.

    3. Add the sparkling water and stir gently. Garnish with grapefruit wedge and mint leaves.


    In the 19th century there were numerous drinks that, like the Tom Collins, were made with gin, lemon juice, sugar and soda.

    There are numerous claims to the origination of the Tom Collins, one of the most popular of the classic cocktails.

    The most reliable is that the recipe for the Tom Collins first appeared in the 1876 edition of Jerry Thomas Bar-Tender’s Guide. The drink was heavy on the gin (one large wine glass of it!).

    Here’s the recipe from Thomas’ book:

    (Use large bar-glass.)
    Take 5 or 6 dashes of gum syrup*.
    Juice of a small lemon.
    1 large wine-glass of gin.
    2 or 3 lumps of ice;
    Shake up well and strain into a large bar-glass. Fill up the glass with plain soda water and drink while it is lively

    The drink got its name from The Great Tom Collins hoax of 1874. A practical joke was making the rounds, wherein one man told another that a man named Tom Collins was saying defamatory things about him. The “victim” didn’t know a Tom Collins, but went off in search of the rascal—who of course was fictitious.

    This became known as “The Great Tom Collins Hoax of 1874.” Eventually, a bartender caught on and named a drink “Tom Collins,” so that if anyone came into his bar looking for Tom Collins, he would [unknowingly] have ordered a tall gin drink.

    According to Business Insider, the lame joke went viral in New York and Philadelphia. Newspapers printed stories of false sightings of Tom Collins, songs were written that memorialized the joke.

    By 1878, the Tom Collins was being served in the bar of New York City and elsewhere, identified as among “the favorite drinks which are in demand everywhere” [source].

    It still is!


    *Gum syrup (gomme syrup in the U.K.) was the pre-Prohibition sweetener in many classic cocktail recipes. It has been replaced by simple syrup. True gum syrup contains gum arabic, an emulsifier that it adds a silky texture and softens the alcohol’s flavor. You can buy it online or make it.


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