This Elderflower Collins is an adaptation of the Tom Collins. That classic cocktail is made with gin, lemon juice, simple syrup or sugar, and club soda.
The Elderflower Collins leaves out the simple syrup and instead combines gin with elderflower liqueur. This elderflower gin cocktail is essentially an alcoholic lemonade, perfect for hot summer evenings or any time you want a refreshing drink.
What is elderflower liqueur?
Are elderflower and elderberry the same?
Elderflower liqueur is made from the flower of certain species of elder (Sambucus nigra). Elderberries are the berries from elder bushes and can be used to make jams and jellies.
You can make your own elderflower liqueur. Just make sure that you know which subspecies you have, as not all can be used.
Elderflowers in popular culture
You might recall the Monty Python insult, “Your mother was a hamster and your father smells of elderberries!” Because elderberries can be used in making wine, John Cleese is implying that the father is an alcoholic. Or something like that.
What does elderflower liqueur taste like?
Elderflower liqueur is has a sweet, floral flavor with a nose like honeysuckle. You can sub in elderflower liqueur wherever a recipe calls for simple syrup. For example, if you like this elderflower gin cocktail, try subbing in elderflower liqueur in this French 75 recipe.
Tips and tricks
How to layer cocktails
Tip from the wise quacker: you can layer any cocktail that has ingredients with different specific gravity. In this case, gin is less dense than the combination of elderflower liqueur, lemon juice, and water and will float on top until stirred.
The key to layering is to place a bar spoon so that the tip of the spoon is at the level of the liquid in the glass. Pour the top layer slowly and gently over the back of the spoon.
Substitutions and variations
- Substitute vodka for gin to make an Elderflower Vodka Collins.
- Substitute simple syrup for the Elderflower liqueur to make a classic Tom Collins.
- Make dehydrated orange slices as a garnish for your Elderflower Collins.
Both are tall, thin glasses, but the Collins glass typically holds a bit more volume (10 to 14 ounces versus 8 to 12 ounces).
No. There’s tradition, and then there’s what really matters. Just like with wine, as long as you’re not drinking your Aperol soda or your Elderflower Collins out of plastic, you’re not likely to be able to taste any difference. The idea that you need different glasses for wine is myth and marketing.
No, go ahead and do what feels right to you. But there a few things you shouldn’t do.
Check out other uglyducklingbakery cocktails and mocktails to see other tasty gin-based cocktails like the dry martini, the Lady Bridgerton Empress gin cocktail, lavender gimlet, or rose French 75 (Empress gin cocktails), a Water Lily variation, the gin espresso martini, or the Negroni spritz. There’s even an Aperol sour variation with gin.
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- Cocktail shaker
- 2 ounces gin
- 1 ounce elderflower liqueur St. Germain, for example.
- 1 ounce lemon juice
- 2 ounces club soda or seltzer water
- 1 slice orange or lemon for garnish
- 1 maraschino cherry for garnish
- If you want to layer the gin on top of the Collins, shake the elderflower liqueur and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker with ice. If you do not want a separate gin layer, include the gin with the liqueur and lemon juice.1 ounce elderflower liqueur, 1 ounce lemon juice, 2 ounces gin
- Strain into a tall glass filled with ice and top with the club soda.2 ounces club soda or seltzer water
- To float a layer of Empress gin, pour the gin slowly over the back of a bar spoon laid bottom side up on top of the ice cubes.2 ounces gin
- Garnish with a lemon or orange wheel and a maraschino cherry (or a chive blossom, if you like)1 slice orange or lemon, 1 maraschino cherry
This elderflower Collins recipe was originally published May 14, 2021. It was last updated on May 21, 2022.
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