Cocktail Road Trip: The South

Pete Capella
(Photo: )

Without getting uber-patriotic, the United States as a country is very much that – united. But the thing that truly makes us great is how diverse we are. We take pride in our differences and stay very tried-and-true to our regional pride. Our cocktails seem to work the same. If you travel around the country, you’ll find different cocktails in the forefront of the craft drink movement. And we are going to do just that. The Savory will be exploring the country, region by region, and finding some of its local faves, both old school and new.

The first place where The Savory is taking its cocktail travels is the South. Known for its rich culture and heavy foods, the cocktail has remained a staple in the southern U.S. since first being introduced in the mid-1800s. When we talk about the South, we are referring to these eleven states: West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana. (We’re going to save Florida for its own feature.)


The Cocktails


Heralded as one of the original American cocktails, the Sazerac is the official drink of New Orleans. A carefully concocted potable, a Sazerac includes a generous amount of rye whiskey, sugar, Peychaud’s Bitters and an absinthe wash in the glass. Peychaud’s bitters, originally created for medicinal purposes, was the launching point for the cocktail when a local New Orleans’ barman realized that it tasted much better when combined with rye. Check out The Savory’s bartender, Pete Capella, help you craft your own Sazerac.


Staying in the “Big Easy”, you can’t walk through New Orleans’ French Quarter without seeing multitudes of drinkers imbibing a Hurricane. Invented in the 1940s at Pat O’Brien’s bar and named because the glass it is always served in is shaped like a hurricane lamp, this concoction of two types of rum, three types of juices, simple syrup, grenadine and garnished with orange slices and cherries, certainly packs a wallop. Check out The Savory’s Hurricane recipe here.

Mint Julep

The Mint Julep has been around a lot longer than most cocktails, first being referenced in a London publication back in 1803. The article claimed that it was all the rage as a morning cocktail choice for Virginians. But the Julep didn’t truly find its popularity until it was first served at the Kentucky Derby in 1938. It was served with a souvenir cup at 75 cents per glass. Now over 80,000 a year are sold during the two-day horse racing event. Check out The Savory’s bartender, Pete Capella, teach you how to make a Mint Julep.

Lynchburg Lemonade

Named after Lynchburg, Tennessee, home of the Jack Daniel’s distillery, the Lynchburg Lemonade came into prominence in the 1980s and is still going strong in the South today. Combining Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey, sour lemon elements, the sweetness of orange liqueur and the bubbly texture of lemon-lime soda, the Lynchburg Lemonade is a refreshing drink on a hot summer day. Oddly, the story goes that it originated in an Alabama bar. Jack Daniel’s disagrees. Check out The Savory’s Lynchburg Lemonade recipe here.

Alabama Slammer

Immortalized by Tom Cruise’s bar-poet character Brian Flanagan in the movie Cocktail, the Alabama Slammer is a staple drink of the South; a favorite of frat boys and cocktail enthusiasts alike. Purportedly created in a bar at the University of Alabama in 1975, the drink can be described as a tiki drink from the South. Originally made up of equal parts Sloe Gin, Southern Comfort and Amaretto, along with orange juice, a cherry and orange slice for garnish, the Slammer is served both on ice in a Collins glass or as a killer shot. Some recipes replace the Sloe Gin with grenadine, but with the new cocktail renaissance, Sloe Gin is back in vogue and back in the Slammer. Check out The Savory’s Alabama Slammer recipe here.

Fasten your seatbelt and stay with us as we continue on our road trip through the US, exploring cocktails by region. Please use the bathroom before we go and don’t drop any crumbs in the car. 

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