For almost 20 years, the Southern Foodways Alliance has studied and shared the narratives of Southern food, its history, and those who make it. They share those stories not only to educate, but to honor and celebrate those who prepare and serve the food. Now, with The Southern Foodways Alliance Guide to Cocktails, they take that same approach to cocktails. As author Sara Camp Milam writes, “What we pour in our glasses, where we do the pouring, and with whom we do the drinking: Those matters reveal truths about our values and our identity in a diverse and changing region.”
The book contains classic and contemporary recipes from more than 20 bartenders and must meet one or more of the following criteria: 1) they were conceived or popularized in the South; 2) they use Southern ingredients (like Georgia peaches or honeysuckle vodka from Mississippi); 3) they were created or recommended by some of the best bartenders in the region. According to the book’s co-editor Jerry Slater, the book was intentionally arranged with its first ten chapters structured around classic cocktails, moving in order of increasing strength. The sections following include cocktail snacks from chef Vishwesh Bhatt (so you’ll never drink on an empty stomach), lists of tools and glassware, and descriptions of techniques you may need as you expand your cocktail repertoire.
Overall, the book includes over 80 recipes, each revealing elements of the South’s drinking history – ranging from classic New Orleans traditions, to the impact of religious-based “blue laws”, to the legendary outlaw stories of moonshiners. Each chapter is accompanied by essays on topics like, “New Orleans, Bar City”, “Dance Caves”, and “Bourbon and Gender”.
Just as with our food, the South’s relationship with drinking is complicated. This book aims to explore and honor each complex element of the past and to examine the future of Southern drinking. Milam hopes that, “After reading this book, and mixing a few drinks, you will know enough spirituous lore to impress friends, family, and barmates.”