The FedEx Cup playoffs get underway this week with the Northern Trust at Liberty National Golf Club in New Jersey, a heated competition at the height of a Northeast summer. As the executive chef at Liberty National — and as someone with an extensive background in mixology — I was asked to help develop a special cocktail menu for the event, composed of drinks that are great for seasonal sipping. The one I’ll focus on today is a refreshing classic that I’ve given a local and contemporary spin.
With origins dating to the 1870s, a traditional Tom Collins is a gin or whiskey cocktail, mixed with lemon juice, sugar and club soda and stirred in a tall glass with ice. But as you might imagine, it has spawned a myriad of variations.
A delicious version can be made with vodka. I’ve been known to whip up one with mezcal, lime juice and heavily carbonated water, such as San Pellegrino. I also do a riff on the Bees Knees, turning a drink of gin, honey and lemon juice into a Collins simply by adding carbonated water and serving it in a tall glass with ice.
For this year’s specialty menu, I’ve tipped my cap to the season by embellishing a classic Collins with blueberries, almonds and herbal tea. It’s a summery combo that changes colors as you make it, shifting into a light purple as the lemon juice alters the pH levels of the tea.
I also changed the name of the drink to a Kite Collins, in honor of the co-designer of our course, Tom Kite.
We’ll be serving the Kite Collins at the Liberty Club and the Northern Trust Pavilion. But in case you won’t be joining us, here’s how to whip one up at home.
The Kite Collins
-2 ounces Old Tom gin
-1 ounce lemon juice
-1/2 ounce blueberry orgeat syrup
-1/2 ounce Butterfly Pea Flower Tea (recipe below)
-2 ounces club soda
-Lemon slice, as garnish
-1 cup blanched & toasted almonds
-1 cup sugar
-1 cup water
-1 oz brandy
-1/2 orange blossom water
Pulse almonds in a food processor until finely ground. Combine water and sugar, bring to a simmer. Add almonds and blueberries, let sit until cool. Strain through a fine sieve and add brandy and orange blossom water.
Butterfly Pea Flower Tea
-14 dried butterfly pea flowers
-12 ounces hot water
Steep the flowers in the hot water for a half-hour until it cools, then strain and re-serve.
In a mixing glass, combine gin, syrup and tea with ice. Give a good stir with spoon. Fill a Collins glass with ice and stream liquid directly into glass. Fill with club soda and add lemon juice on top. Garnish with lemon and serve.