9 Great Southern Cocktails
As another summer starts making its way into the history books, let’s pause for a moment and pay homage to 2017 by sipping through some of the South’s all-time greatest cocktails. Whether you’re visiting Nashville for the weekend or you’re calling yourself a full-time southerner, here are 9 incredible drinks you need to imbibe in before August turns to autumn.
The French 75 is a classic cocktail that, although invented in New York, found its home in the South. This is a drink for sipping on hot, steamy, southern afternoon. Or tippling as an accompaniment to your weekend brunch. Whatever your pleasure might be, quite simply, the French 75 is the perfect drink for just about any summer occasion.
The experts at Liquor.com report that the French 75 first appeared at the height of Prohibition in a bootlegger’s publication called, not so subtly, Here’s How! By many accounts, it’s the only cocktail to have the dubious honor of being born during America’s dry spell. Although Charles Dickens reported enjoyed a dram of “Tom gin and champagne cups” while visiting Boston in 1885, we’ll give the Roaring Twenties the ultimate credit. Feel free to consult the history books, but before you do, here’s how we mix a French 75:
1 ounces London dry gin
½ ounce fresh lemon juice
½ ounce simple syrup
3-4 ounces champagne
Lemon twist to garnish
While you can serve it in a champagne flute, we think a collins glass is more to our Southern tastes.
Papa Doble (Hemingway’s Daiquiri)
It only seems appropriate that the famed author who uttered the infamous line, “I drink to make other people more interesting” should have a place on this list. Known affectionately as “Papa” in Havana, his drinking habits were so prodigious that after a sip or two of a delicious daiquiri served at the La Floridita, the writer reportedly quipped, “That’s good, but I prefer mine with twice the rum and no sugar” (tastecocktails.com). With that bit of constructive criticism in mind, the bartender served up this mammoth custom beverage, the “Papa Doble.”
4 ounces white rum
½ ounce lime juice
Lime twist to garnish
With a nod to our neighbors to the north, we bring you the mint julep. The mixed drink first appeared in the 18th century and was reportedly introduced to politicians in Washington, D.C. by Kentucky Senator, Henry Clay in 1851. At the time, “julep” was used to describe a sweet, often medicinal drink, but the Senator’s had a bit of a punch packed amongst the muddled mint. Legend has it that the Round Robin Bar at the Willard Hotel still serves up Clay’s recipe.
Believe it or not, it wasn’t until 1983 that the minty refresher became the official drink of the Kentucky Derby. Bet you didn’t know that bartenders at the famous track served up nearly 120,000 juleps over Derby weekend!
2 ounces premium whiskey
2 ounces sparkling water
8-10 fresh mint leaves
2 cups crushed ice
1 tsp. sugar
1 lemon twist
1 sprig of mint
Add sugar, mint leaves, 1 ounce whiskey, and 1 ounce of sparkling water to the julep cup. Using a muddler or the back of a small wooden spoon, muddle the ingredients together until the mint bruises and form a potent tea. Add some more ice and muddle some more. Add the rest of the ice and top with the rest of the bourbon and the sparkling water. Garnish with the sprig of mint and the lemon twist.
Although its roots are firmly planted in Italy, a bittersweet Negroni served on the rocks is ideal sipping on a hot Nashville night.
1 ounce Campari
1 ounce sweet vermouth
1 ounce gin
Garnish with an orange twist
Add equal parts Campari, sweet vermouth, and gin in an Old Fashioned glass filled with ice. Stir briefly and garnish with a generous orange twist.
According to legend, the Sazerac cocktail — originally made with Sazerac Cognac and doctored with bitters from the local apothecary, Antoine Amedie Peychaud’s — first crossed the bar in the 1850s. By the 1870s, rye whiskey replaced the Cognac, making it a New Orleans original. So original and so enduring that on June 23, 3008, the Louisiana Legislature agreed that the Sazerac was to be New Orleans’ official cocktail.
And with good reason. Whether you’re on team Peychaud or team Sazerac House (both claim ownership of the delicious drink), the Sazerac has become a staple for modern mixologists. You tell us, what’s wrong with booze and bitters with a dash of sugar? Although bars all over the south serve it, we’ll turn to Arnaud’s French 75 Bar for their take on the classic:
2 ounces rye whiskey
1 tsp simple syrup
3 dashes of Peychaud’s Bitters
3 dashes of Angostura Bitters
Splash of water
2 dashes of Herbsaint or Pernod liqueur
Twist of lemon
In a pitcher half-filled with ice, combine all ingredients except the Herbsaint and lemon twist and stir well. Pour the Herbsaint into a chilled rocks glass and swirl to coat the interior of the glass, discarding any excess. Strain the mixture into the glass, add the lemon twist and serve immediately.
The drink that is decidedly anything but old-fashioned has been stirring the hearts of mixologists across the South for generations. It’s been around for just about ever and tracing its lineage would merit a post of its very own. Instead, we’ll leave you with the recipe from the George Kappeler’s Modern American Drinks, first published in 1895:
“Dissolve a small lump of sugar with a little water in a whiskey-glass; add two dashes Angostura bitters, a small piece of ice, a piece of lemon-peel, one jigger whiskey. Mix with small bar-spoon and serve, leaving spoon in glass.”
Corpse Reviver #2
While it originally hails from London, and first appeared in the 1930 edition of the Savoy Cocktail Book by Harry Craddock, the Corpse Reviver #2 is part of a series of libations designed, appropriately enough, to cure a hangover. After working your way through this list, the most popular of the Corpse Revivers seems a natural fit for our end-of-summer round-up.
An icy-cold swig of this absinthe-laced concoction is enough to revive even the dullest of corpses. Not that Craddock’s unit of measurement is recommended in these days of thoughtful and nuanced bartending, but it bears publication:
¼ wine glass lemon juice
¼ wine glass Kina Lillet
¼ wine glass Cointreau
¼ wine glass dry gin
1 dash absinthe
May the resurrections begin.
Chatham Artillery Punch
If you’re planning for a crowd, there’s nothing better than a nice batch of Chatham Artillery Punch. Forget the orange sherbet and reach for the bottle. Of the knock-out punch, the good barkeeps at the Bitter Southerner write “This stout tipple was originally concocted to celebrate a visit in the mid-1800s between the Republican Blues, an all-volunteer unit from Savannah stationed in Fort Jackson, and the Chatham Artillery. Both organizations were as much social clubs as military units, but the Chatham Artillery was especially known for enjoying the good things in life.”
Don’t skimp on the good stuff. This isn’t your ordinary punch.
2 ounces of green tea leaves
4 large lemons
1/2 pound turbinado or light brown sugar
1 quart dark rum
1 quart brandy
1 quart rye or bourbon whiskey
3 bottles champagne
Soak the tea leaves 8 hours or overnight in a quart of cold water. Strain the liquid from the leaves into a large container that will hold all the spirits (use wooden, porcelain, or glass; do not use plastic or metal). Juice 3 lemons through a strainer into the tea and add the sugar, stirring until it is dissolved.
Stir in the rum, brandy, and whiskey, cover, and let stand at room temperature for at least 8 hours or for up to a week. It’s pretty well indestructible at this point.
When ready to serve the punch, thinly slice 1 lemon. To serve the punch, allow 6 cups of the base for every bottle of champagne. First pour the brew over an ice ring or large block of ice in a punch bowl. Add the sliced lemon and swirl in the champagne, being careful not to disturb its effervescence. Serve with caution.
Ramos Gin Fizz
If you’re looking for a little theater to go with your adult beverage, stay seated at the bar for this one! While the Sazerac is great, the gin fizz is a sip of heaven for gin enthusiasts. As for its history? The Gin Foundry explains that this Nola original became so popular after its creation in 1888 that it took on the name of its inventor, Henry C. Ramos of the Imperial Cabinet Bar and The Stag. Legend has it that the drink was so popular that dozens of bartenders lined up to make the drink each night to meet the overwhelming demand.
2 ounces gin
½ ounce lemon juice
½ ounce lime juice
¾ ounce simple syrup
Dash of orange flower water
3 drops of real vanilla extract
1 egg white
1 ounce heavy cream
Combine all the ingredients except the sparkling water in an empty cocktail shaker. Dry shake. Shake hard! Open the shaker, add ice, and shake some more. Strain into a chilled glass and top with sparkling water. Add a slice of orange to garnish.