For this issue, we wanted to feature some classic Southern drinks—but we had to do so in a way that avoided a Mint Julep, because frankly they are gross. So, with football season upon us (and our tailgating story), we decided to focus on some drinks you could make en masse beforehand, and then enjoy with a group in the parking lot. One of the best parts about being in the South is that even in late fall or winter you can wake up and find a day that is 80 degrees and sunny. These recipes can be easily adjusted to cool you down if it’s warm, or take the chill off if it’s not. Grab a glass, toss some meat on the grill, and turn up the Skynyrd.
Pimm’s No. 1 is a fruity liqueur beloved almost exclusively in its hometown of London—and for some reason Louisiana. Cajun Lemonade, which is credited as being invented at New Orleans’ Napoleon House Bar in 1940, certainly is a refreshing option on a hot afternoon! The British version of this drink is similar but loaded with fresh fruits and herbs. The New Orleans version gets its fresh taste from cucumber. The beauty of such drinks as they can be easily adjusted to fit the audience’s tastes. For this, you can try a flavored vodka, substitute rum for vodka altogether, or swap out the 7-Up (or whatever your favorite lemon-lime drink may be) for ginger ale.
1 1/2 cups vodka (we used Belenkaya)
1/2 cup Pimm’s No. 1
1 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup simple syrup
1/2 tablespoon Tabasco
1 can 7-Up, chilled
One thinly sliced cucumber, divided
Thinly sliced lemon wheels for garnish
In a large (at least one quart), resealable container, combine and shake the vodka, Pimm’s, lemon juice, simple syrup, and Tabasco, then drop in several slices of cucumber and chill for at least an hour. To serve, add ice to the cups and fill 2/3 with the lemonade. Top with 7-Up, and garnish with fresh cucumber and/or the lemon wheels. Makes 4 servings.
Shoo-Fly Pie is a Southern staple made with molasses, and years ago Southern Living magazine created this just-as-refreshing albeit less sweet drink that played off it. We adapted the recipe slightly in order to increase the volume for a thirsty crowd. The beauty about having this drink on a football Saturday in the fall is that (in the South especially) the temperatures can vary wildly, and this drink has the ginger to cool you down if it’s hot, and the bourbon to take off the chill if it is not.
2 cups bourbon (we used Knob Creek)
3/4 cup ginger liqueur (we used Barrow’s Intense)
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup simple syrup
5 dashes bitters
1-2 bottles nonalcoholic ginger beer, chilled (we used Fentimans)
Orange slices and fresh mint sprigs for garnish
Stir together the bourbon, liqueur, lemon juice, simple syrup, and bitters and chill. To serve, fill a glass with ice and fill 3/4 full with the bourbon mix. Top with the ginger beer and garnish. Makes 4-6 servings.
The Alabama Slammer became popular with the bar crowds in the ’70s and ’80s as both a shot and a drink, but has since faded in popularity as tastes have trended away from the overly sweet. It since got boosts with a famous mention in Tom Cruise’s poem in Cocktail, and somehow another from NFL legend Brett Favre talking about it. Regardless, it’s a good old-school drink to whip out at a party. If you’re going to be drinking multiples, however, you may want to cut out some of the sweetness. The drink is traditionally built in the glass, but here we’re making it by the pitcher, and as such are breaking from the original recipe to introduce vodka—which adds a kick and cuts the sweetness.
1 cup vodka (we used Absolut)
1/2 cup Southern Comfort
1/2 cup amaretto (we used Lazzaroni)
3/4 cup sloe gin (we used Gordon’s)
Grenadine, cherries, and orange wedge for garnish
Mix the vodka, SoCo, amaretto, and sloe gin and chill. To serve, fill a Collins glass with ice, fill it 1/2 full with the alcohol mixture and top with the orange juice. Add a few drops of grenadine for color and garnish. Serves 4.