• Cheré Dastugue Coen

The South’s Official Cocktails

Give it to the South to come up with official cocktails for their towns and states.

frazier history museum
The many bourbons of Kentucky at Louisville's Frazier History Museum.

We love to drink in the South. Might be that oppressive heat making us thirsty. Or maybe the delicious limestone waters of Kentucky that make great bourbon. Something to sip on at Gulf and Atlantic beaches while staring off at the gorgeous emerald blue waters.


Who cares, right? The fact remains we do it well and those in government seem to agree, which is why we have official cocktails in many Southern places.


First, the Louisiana Legislature named the Sazerac the official New Orleans cocktail, a drink that hails back to 1838 and apothecary owner Antoine Peychaud, the drink he named for his favorite French brandy, Sazerac-de-Forge et fils. The brandy toddy included Peychaud bitters and was mixed using a jigger then known as a coquetier, pronounced ko-k-tay. Many people believe this is where the word cocktail comes from and New Orleans, of course, claims the city as the cocktail's birthplace.


You can find the delicious drink with a peel of lemon all over the city but especially at the Sazerac Bar of the Roosevelt Hotel, my personal favorite with its Depression-era murals and Huey Long history. The Chandelier Bar at the new Four Seasons in New Orleans serves up an excellent sazerac as well.


Louisville got in the official spirits act in 2015 and chose the Old Fashioned for its official drink of choice. According to the Louisville Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, legend contends that Louisville’s Pendennis Club created or reinvented the Old Fashioned in 1881.


“Though other historic reference point to bourbon cocktails being made in the ‘the old fashioned way,’” the Bureau insists, “the Pendennis recipe was the first to name the drink and has been on the menu ever since.” 




At right (or above if you're reading this on your phone) is the Old Fashioned served at Louisville's historic Seelbach Hotel in its Old Seelbach Bar, known to have been frequented by American novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald. Parts of "The Great Gatsby" were set at this hotel. Perhaps the drink inspired him?


Want to know what your home state calls its signature drink? According to Buzzfeed.com, here are the spirits of the South:


Alabama

The Alabama Slammer (amaretto, Southern Comfort, Sloe Gin, and orange juice), also known as the signature drink of the University of Alabama Crimson Tide. We LSU fans would call that a sissy drink. (Sorry, I just had to.) We vote for the refreshing and spirited Bushwacker at the Gulf Coast's Flora-Bama. This famous bar straddles the border between Alabama and Florida so Florida can claim it as well.

bushwacker
Bushwacker (submitted photo)

Arkansas

The Arkansas Razorback (rum, vodka, amaretto almond liqueur, Kahlua coffee liqueur), another nod to the SEC, this time the University of Arkansas. Do they yell "Soo-ee" when they drink this?


Florida

The Rum Runner (Captain Morgan, blackberry liqueur, creme de bananes and orange juice), originating at the Holiday Isle Tiki Bar in Islamorada, when the bartender was dared to make a cocktail out of the liquor surplus. Again, we'd add a vote for the Flora-Bama's Bushwacker.


Georgia

The Scarlet O’Hara (typically Southern Comfort, cranberry juice, a dash of lime and a lime wheel to garnish), that will make you forget everything until tomorrow. According to The Daily Meal, the drink was invented the same year the novel was published.


Kentucky

The Mint Julep (bourbon, sugar, water and mint), the official drink of Churchill Downs. But we’re including the recipe for the Old Fashioned below.

carousel bar monteleone hotel
The famous Carousel Bar at the Monteleone Hotel in New Orleans (submitted photo).

Louisiana

You tourists may proclaim The Hurricane as your drink of choice but we natives don’t mess around with fruity drinks in funny glasses. New Orleans arguably invented the cocktail and the city hosts the annual Tales of the Cocktail every year so we consider our tastes more elevated. I would choose the Slow Gin Fizz (read more about this time-consuming cocktail here) or the Sazerac, all created in our spirited town. But if you must enjoy a Hurricane, do so while enjoying the delightful patio at Pat O'Brien's, where it was invented.


Mississippi

Mississippi Punch (dark rum, bourbon, brandy/cognac, fresh lemon juice and sugar), first noted in Jerry Thomas’ “The Bon Vivant’s Companion,” attributing its location in Mississippi, according to BuzzFeed.com.


North Carolina

Dirty Beetz (vodka, local beet syrup, lime juice and orange juice) originating from Raleigh’s The Fiction Kitchen, but we have to ask why? Beets? But hey, we’re game for anything.


South Carolina

The Hemingway Mojito (Bacardi, sunset-red Italian Campari, muddled mint and grapefruit, soda water and grapefruit juice), a colorful drink that looks like a Key West sunset, born from Charleston’s Amen StreetFish and Raw Bar. Shouldn’t that be a Florida drink? The folks at SaturdayDownSouth.com have chosen the Firefly Spirits Sweet Tea as its choice for South Carolina "Gamecock fans crowing on Saturdays at Williams-Brice Stadium." We rather agree.

Tennessee

Lynchburg Lemonade (Jack Daniel’s whiskey, Triple sec, sweet and sour mix, and Sprite), because JackDaniel’s is made in Lynchburg, Tennessee. I’d say that anything with Jack would be a proper Tennessee drink. Want to read more about Gentleman Jack and how he got started? Check out our recent blog post.


Texas

The Mexican Martini (tequila, Cointreau orange liqueur, sweet and sour mix, lime juice, orange juice and Sprite), served straight up in a cocktail glass. I vote for imbibing this cocktail on the beach at Galveston.


Feel the urge to make a few Southern favorites at home? Here are some recipes:


The Original Pendennis Club Recipe for Old Fashioned

Ingredients:

2 ounces fine Kentucky Bourbon

1 tsp. simple syrup (or ½ lump of sugar)

½ slice orange

1 cherry with stem

1 lemon twist

2 dashes Angostura bitters

Directions: Mix sugar, water and Angostura bitters in an Old Fashioned glass. Drop in a cherry and an orange wedge. Muddle into a paste using a muddler or the back of a spoon. Pour in bourbon, fill with ice cubes, stir and enjoy.


Ramos Gin Fizz, Bourbon Orleans Hotel, New Orleans

1 1/2 ounces gin


1 tablespoon simple syrup (1:1)


1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice


1/2 ounce fresh lime juice


1 fresh egg white 


1 ounce heavy cream


3 drops orange flower water


1 ounce club soda

Chilled
 tools: shaker, strainer


Glass: highball

Garnish: Orange peel

Direction: Combine the first six ingredients in a shaker without ice and shake vigorously to combine. Add ice to the shaker and shake again for at least 6 to 12 minutes. Strain into a glass, top with club soda and the orange flower water and stir.



Cheré Dastugue Coen will never say no to a cocktail but her favorites hail back to her New Orleans roots: the Ramos Slow Gin Fizz made the original way (several minutes of shaking; read my blog post here), a Sazerac (she enjoyed an excellent one at her recent trip to the new Four Seasons in New Orleans) or an Old Fashioned. That's Cheré at right with Mr. Ramos at the Bourbon Orleans Hotel in New Orleans.

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