A Rum Collins, sometimes known as a Pedro Collins, is based on the classic Tom Collins but using rum instead of gin. Although I tend to drink more rum in the winter, this cocktail is a great summer option to cool you down on a hot day.

The Rum Collins is probably the most popular of the “Collins” cocktails in Cuba and perhaps the Caribbean – James Bond is given one by Largo in Thunderball. Hemingway’s one time Cuban Chef, Fico, stated in a 2016 interview with the Cuba Journal that the Rum Collins was Hemingway’s favourite drink, “beyond the Daiquiri.”

By 1933, Hemingway was regularly fishing off Cuba. He loved fishing the gulf stream between Key West and Cuba. It was the best Marlin fishing he had experienced and Havana was an exotic night spot. He hoped this would encourage second wife Pauline on more fishing trips. They had met Cuban residents Grant and Jane Mason the previous year and when there, they spent most of their time with them. Ernest referred to Grant as a ‘twerp’ but Jane shared his passion for deep sea fishing and hunting. She was also a risk taker which would have appealed to him. At least initially there was only a flirtation as Hemingway was still very much in love with Pauline. He wrote, “Pauline is cockeyed beautiful – Figure lovely after Greg born – never looked or felt better.” However, Jane Mason broke her back falling from a window in a rumoured suicide attempt related to her affair with Hemingway. He described her as the girl who “fell for him…literally”.

Hemingway moved to Cuba in 1939 as part of his long drawn out separation from Pauline. He had met future third wife, Martha Gellhorn in Sloppy Joe’s in Key West in 1936. She later described him as, “a large, dirty man in somewhat soiled white shorts and shirt.” There was a rumour she told a friend she was going down to Florida to “get” Hemingway, come what may. They married in 1940.


60mL Rum
30mL Lemon or Lime Juice
1 tsp. Sugar
120mL Carbonated water
Splash of bitters to taste (optional)

Add all ingredients to a tall glass filled with ice. Stir gently so to not release too much of the gas from the water. Garnish with a lime wedge. Stir and serve.

Rum Collins

Recently I had a Rum Collins (Pedro Collins) at The Everleigh bar in Fitzroy, Melbourne. This is a fantastic bar with amazing service and touted by many as having the best cocktails in Melbourne. You can use any rum in a Rum Collins but it is more likely to be made with light rum. However, at The Everleigh they prefer to use the Plantation Original Dark, which adds richness in both colour and taste. Try a range of rums to find the combination you prefer. If you are going to go with dark rum, I would recommend experimenting with lowering the added sugar as it can get a bit sickly. My favourite rum and possibly my favourite drink is the 12-year-old El Dorado rum from Guyana. I normally drink it in an Old Fashioned glass on ice but its distinctive flavour will shine through most cocktail combinations.

Feature image: Photographed by Andrew Pustiakin. Image via Shutterstock.