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BOOZE BLOG REBELLION: We have some fancy cocktails for you, no need to thank us

Because y’all need some culture in your lives.

The Southern Foodways Alliance recently published an aptly named “cookbook,” covering some of the most traditional and new-take cocktails from the southern region. Cocktails is divided into chapters by drink category, ranging from day-drinking (Bloody Mary and Brandy Milk Punch) to different takes on the traditional Old Fashioned and Frenchy 75. After seeing the cover at Square Books, I knew this consolidation of cocktails was right up my alley. Here are some of my experiments with just a handful of the recipes therein. I hope you enjoy.

Sazerac Sour

  • 1½ oz. rye
  • ½ oz. lemon juice
  • ½ oz. Sazerac syrup
  • ½ oz. Peychaud’s bitters
  • 4 dashes Angostura bitters
  • ¼ oz. Herbsainte
  • Sazerac syrup
  • ½ cup honey
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ cup rye whiskey
  • 1 oz. Peychaud’s bitters
  • ½ oz. Angostura bitters

My favorite cocktail is the Sazerac. There’s something about the hefty dashes of Peychaud’s bitters and lingering aroma of Absinthe that make the drink a perfect blend of stout rye whiskey and sweet licorice. If I’m going to frequent a bar during a vacation or in Oxford, I make sure to order a Sazerac. While its ingredients may be simple (rye, simple syrup, Peychaud’s bitters, Absinthe rinse), the proportions of each ingredient can result in multiple different “Sazeracs.” Recently, after ordering a Sazerac, I finally came to agree with some friends that the City Grocery bar was overrated. Upon placing my order, I watched the bartender grab Bulleit Bourbon (with Bulleit Rye right next to it) and carefully drip-drop a “dash” of Peychaud’s bitters into the glass. Needless to say, it ruined my evening and I vowed to be “that guy” who has to specify what type of booze he wants plus extra bitters upon ordering the drink.

Photo by the author.

The Sazerac Sour takes the traditional cocktail and turns the knob to 11. It requires you to make a Sazerac syrup, but trust me, you reap what you sow when it comes to this drink. Being the drink featured in The Local Palate’s plug for the book, I felt confident this concoction wouldn’t let me down. After the first sip, it reminded me of a Sazerac lemonade. Tart, sweet, refreshing and boozy ... I was sold. The biggest mistake I made was having a second immediately after; this drink will knock you on your heels. The original itself is already libation heavy. Now you are adding rye whiskey-infused syrup to it all! This was my favorite cocktail I made from the book.

Rhythm and Soul

  • Splash of absinthe
  • 1½ oz. rye
  • ½ oz sweet vermouth
  • ½ oz amaro
  • 4 dashes Angostura bitters

My Booze Year Resolution is to get more into sweet vermouth. I’ve never been a huge Manhattan fan except for the cocktail at Snackbar, the Old Manhattan. Tying in elements from both the Old Fashioned and Manhattan, it’s one of my top three staple cocktails on their menu. Created by Greg Best out of Atlanta, Rhythm and Soul is a fusion of a Manhattan and another one of my favorite drinks, the Sazerac. Similar to a Sazerac, this drink calls for an Absinthe rinse in a cold glass prior to pouring the chilled drink.

Upon first sip, my initial reaction was, “Hey, it’s a fusion of Coke and Root Beer with the lightest tinge of licorice.” I’m still new to taste profiles of amaro, so maybe that’s what brought the syrupy bark and root flavor to the drink, but it was surprisingly smooth and easy to drink considering it’s nothing but booze. I’m not sure I’d want to drink another and honestly I’m not sure I’d be able to drink another cocktail without some food or water to cleanse my palate. As both a strength and a weakness, the taste lingers for quite some time, so this might a cocktail better reserved for dessert or closing time.

Vieux Carré

  • 1 oz. cognac
  • 1 oz. rye
  • 1 oz. sweet vermouth
  • ¼ oz. Bénédictine
  • 2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters

Another classic cocktail that features sweet vermouth, the Vieux Carré is up there as one of the quintessential cocktails of New Orleans. Cocktails even devoted an entire chapter to Vieux Carré style cocktails. In the chapter’s introduction, co-author Jerry Slater writes how the Vieux Carré could be considered the “most New Orleanian of New Orleans cocktails,” as it includes both rye and cognac along with both Peychaud’s and Angostura bitters.

The rye and cognac make this cocktail a hooch-forward cocktail while the Bénédictine (I thought words with two emphatic syllables were impossible?) drops in surprisingly unannounced like Kramer in a Seinfeld episode. I was out of lemon on the night I made this but I can absolutely see how a squeeze of fresh lemon oil along with the peel thrown into the glass could add an elevated level to the drink. Unlike the Rhythm and Soul, I could definitely go back for seconds on this one. It’s a smooth sipper with ice* that can sneak up on you quick.

*Ice can be a sneaky devil. At first, the inner chemist in me thinks “Ah ok, this drink is poured over rice. Surely it will dilute the drink and make it not quite as potent!” So what do I do when I see how high my drink is in the glass with a one-inch ice cube? Take bigger sips and finish the drink at a much more dangerous rate!

I’m Your Huckleberry

  • 2 oz. rye
  • ½ oz. amaro
  • 3 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
  • 4 oz. Cheerwine

One of the few soda-based drinks in the book along with a premier name, the I’m Your Huckleberry caught my eye due to its inclusion of Cheerwine. I remember my first trip to the Carolinas about 20 years ago and seeing the unfamiliar bright red label at a fast-food soda fountain. As a teenager, my ears pricked up when I saw “wine” included in the name, thinking this might be some obscure alcoholic coke served to minors. Coming from Mississippi and our archaic alcohol laws, it wasn’t so farfetched for me at the time. Like your first kiss, minus the teenage angst, drinking Cheerwine for the first time was a rush of emotion and desire for more.

I’m not sure how long Cheerwine has been distributed in Mississippi but I saw it recently in Kroger after coming across this drink from the book and went for it. I was a bit let down as it pretty much amounted to a glorified Cherry Coke. I think I’ll save the rest of the Cheerwine to be served “neat.”

Seelbach Cocktail

  • 1 oz. bourbon
  • ½ oz. triple sec
  • 7 dashes each Angostura and Peychaud’s bitters
  • 4-5 oz. chilled champagne

Hailing form the Seelbach Hotel in Louisville, the Seelbach Cocktail features Kentucky’s favorite libation plus a heavy dose of bitters. The Seelbach is spotlighted in the French 75 chapter, featuring a variety of drinks with a base of booze and citrus, then topped with bubbly. Now imagine a Mimosa, French 75 and Old Fashioned meet in a bar and decide to hook up for some light foreplay in the bathroom. BOOM, nine months later and you’ve got the Seelbach Cocktail.

This drink is seemingly light on booze (only 1 ounce of bourbon) but in reality is nothing but. It was super light and crisp, making for an ideal mid-morning alternative to your standard Mimosa or Bloody Mary. You could ideally premix the bourbon, triple sec and bitters in a small bottle, then pour and top with bubbly as you go. Holler at me for the Arkansas 11 a.m. kickoff game to try one on me.


  • 2 oz. gin
  • ¾ oz. Cointreau
  • ¾ oz. Honey Thyme Syrup
  • ½ oz. lemon juice
  • 1 oz. soda, seltzer, or sparkling water

The featured cocktail at the Cocktails book signing at City Grocery (for FREE NINETY-NINETY boooiiii), the Seersucker was created here in Oxford at our very own Snackbar. While it may not be the most astute drink as we move into the upcoming cooler months, Lord knows there will be those two days of record highs in early December (thanks a lot El Niño) when you can whip this up after putting up Christmas decorations drenched in sweat.

We actually did a cool video on this drink (among others) a couple years back. While Alex has moved to wait staff at Snackbar, he’s still one of our favorite Oxford drank slangers.

Thanks for reading and I hope you’ll give these drinks a shot, then support your regional bartenders by purchasing this home bar staple. Cheers.