As with a great many southern things, my place of birth can cause contention. If I am in the south and say I was born in Virginia, most southerners balk at me and say that’s not the south. While here in Cleveland, people often hear my accent and comment on me being a Southerner. The fact remains, I am a southerner. As a southerner, there are quintessential cocktails that we enjoy. More so than many other parts of the country. Some that even got their roots there. So join me as I share with you my list of 5 Decadent Southern Cocktails For Your Summer.
Before we get started, let me make a little sidebar here and this is going to spark a massive debate. American Whiskey is not whisky, it is, in fact, bourbon. The difference is whisky is made from rye and bourbon from corn. Granted this is an oversimplification. Also, add the fact that there is an ‘e’ when Americans use the term. Again, oversimplification, but on with the show.
When people think about the south and cocktails, a Mint Julep is the first to come to mind. It conjures images of hot, humid summers, sitting on a wrap-around front porch overlooking the yard, with the subtle buzz of grasshoppers in the air. A lazy day after you have finished chores and want to relax in a rocking chair. Sounds like heaven. This is a drink to refresh and cool at the same time. What few known is that this drink is not southern by birth. starting out it was not made with bourbon or whisky. In fact, most southerners did not drink whisky before the civil war. So how did this end up the drink of the Kentucky Derby? That is better left to its own article. More than likely they used peach brandy, moonshine, or some other variation of corn mash. Mint was the essential part, as most were aware of the medicinal claims of using mint. I prefer my Mint Juleps to be as simple and traditional as possible, so here is the take I prefer.
- 2 oz of bourbon (preferrable 100 proof or higher, in a pinch I go for Jim Beam)
- ½ oz of simple syrup. Don’t do quick methods for this. Take your time and do it right
- 9 sprigs of mint
Pour the simple syrup and bourbon into your glass and add a few sprigs of mint. Using a muddler, gently mash the mint into the liquid for about 30 seconds. Then add your ice and stir. This will allow the coldness of the ice to lower the temperature of the drink. Once stirred, add more ice and then add springs of mint to garnish. Sip and enjoy, even if you do not have a porch.
Growing up, there were two cocktails that I heard a lot about and both are on this list. Easy to acquire ingredients and the south’s love of bourbon, make them essential drinks. The first is Lynchburg Lemonade. It’s named for the dry town where the Jack Daniels distillery resides. We all know the lemonade is a staple for southern barbecues and summer. So, it is an easy jump to make this a more adult-friendly beverage. And yes, it is an amazing summertime drink. While there are plenty of variations of this recipe, I give you my favorite version. the most important part is making your homemade lemonade. The flavor for this recipe is better than using Sprite or triple sec. Lemonade – Juice your lemons, add your sugar, mix, and add your water to get it to your desired potency.
- 1 ½ – 2 oz of Jack Daniels (can use your choice)
In a mason jar, add your whisky, then pour in your lemonade to the desired level. Then add some ice and stir to chill the liquid. Test for the desired flavor and adjust as needed. Add ice to fill the cup and enjoy the tartness.
This leads us to a variation of a Lynchburg Lemonade and a more graduated version, the Whisky Sour. The sweet tartness reminds you of lemonade but with a kick. This became my go-to drink when I was bar-hopping in college. I can hear my friends now. “Cave Ins factored more into your college drinking than Whisky Sours.” Thanks, Don Bensink. Be that as it may, this is still one of my go-to drinks. Again, we will use the easiest and fewest ingredients as possible. Also, there will be no eggs added to this recipe, as that makes it a Boston Sour.
- 3oz of bourbon
- 2oz of lemon juice
- 1oz simple syrup (again, don’t skimp on making this)
In a high ball glass add three ounces of bourbon, two ounces, and an ounce of simple syrup. Add a couple of pieces of ice and stir to chill, then top off with more ice. Please do not use sour mix, you get way too much sugar and a mixture of flavors that ruin the notes of bourbon. Keep It Simple Stupid, is the best motto.
The last two recipes are a bit more involved but are some of the best known southern drinks. If you have ever been to New Orleans, you have had either one or both of those sultry cocktails. The heady aromas and succulent flavors leave you feeling all warm and good. Both will loosen your inhibitions and put you in a Southern state of mind.
The Hurricane was first created in a New Orleans bar at a time when rum reserves were heavy. Many places make it by adding copious amounts of booze and often the wrong rum. So I give you the basic recipe that will make you as happy as a pig wallowing in mud.
- 4oz dark rum
- 2oz of passionfruit syrup (my boyfriend will approve this cocktail)
- 2oz of lemon juice.
Add all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake for about thirty seconds and Pour into a hurricane glass filled with ice. Add a straw and sit down enjoy. Otherwise, the floor may come up to meet you sooner than you are ready.
Last, but not least is the Alabama Slammer. In my early days of bar-hopping back home, in Virginia, this was the drink that most places had a limit on. It can have a kick equal to that of a mule and sneaks up on you like a gator looking for a snack. No one can confirm the origins of this drink. Some claim that it is THE drink of the University of Alabama. The first recorded mention of it comes from around 1971 Playboy Bartender’s Guide. It’s called a slammer for a reason. This sweet flavorful concoction is easy to knockback. Having too many will leave you feeling like someone slammed your head against a door a few too many times.
- 1oz Southern Comfort
- 1oz Amaretto
- 1oz Sloe Gin
- 2oz Orange Juice
Cherry and Orange slice for garnish
Add alcohol and orange juice into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake about thirty seconds to allow for proper mixing and chilling of drink. Strain into an ice-filled highball glass and add cherry and orange garnish. Sip and enjoy.
There you have it, 5 Decadent Southern Cocktails For Your Summer Enjoyment. Give them a try and let me know what you think. If you have your own version sof quintessential cocktails for the summer, let me know. I am always on the lookout for new drink ideas to enjoy with good company. Now get out there and enjoy this weather and have some fun