Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Southern Drinking: My Grown Up Science Fair Project

I like to make outrageous claims without scientific evidence--wait, is this called a hypothesis? I revert back to middle school and think about science fair: Do Plants Grow Faster If You Play Music? Do Huggies Diapers Absorb More Water Than Pampers; and for the more sophisticated middle school student (ie: not me), how about: Surf and Turf: The Perspective of a Mushroom (first-place winner at Inman Park Middle School in Atlanta, GA in 1999). According to Wikipedia, a hypothesis is based on previous observations or scientific theory and it is never posed as a question, but rather a statement such as The Perspective of a Southerner: We Have More Fun Because Our Drinks Are Better. And, thus, I reflect on my outlandish statement and pull some good ol' facts from my Southern soul.

1. Jack Daniels Old No. 7: This man of mystery created Tennessee whiskey, a whiskey that is filtered through a thick layer of maple charcoal before it is put into casks for aging. Jack Daniel supposedly died of blood poisoning after kicking his safe because he could not remember the combination code. Kicking a safe=bloody toes=infection=blood poisoning in 1911. Further, there is speculation about two things: his birth date and the No. 7. Some say Jack Daniel had seven girlfriends while others say he chose the number "7" because it was lucky (please say the former rather than the latter is true). Need I say more about this Southern gent and his contribution to liquor & spirits?

I also have to give a shout-out to Southern Comfort: another mystery behind this blend of whiskey, fruit, & spices. SoCo was allegedly created and sold in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Creator Martin Wilkes Heron had two slogans for SoCo: None Genuine But Mine & Two Per Customer. No Gentleman Would Ask for More. The mansion depicted on the label is Woodland Plantation in Louisiana and operates as a bed and breakfast. Southern Comfort was also Janis Joplin's beverage of choice and Johnny Cash has a song called Southern Comfort. Other fun facts about SoCo: In an episode of Family Guy, Peter Griffin and his friends get "wrecked" on SoCo; in a A Streetcar Named Desire, Blanch finds a bottle of SoCo in the pantry; and in Stephen King's Road Work, the protagonist's favorite drink is SoCo and 7 up. In Amanda Palmer's words, "Who needs love; when there's southern comfort."

2. Kentucky: Bourbon & Derby: Bourbon is an American whiskey made primarily from corn and named after Bourbon County, KY; it is estimated that 95% of the world's bourbons are distilled and aged in Kentucky. Bardstown, Kentucky is the Bourbon Capital of the World and home to the annual Bourbon Festival. Speaking of festivities & bourbon, Kentucky is also home to the Kentucky Derby, which was created in 1875 by Meriweather Lewis Clark, Jr. (grandson of William Clark of the Lewis & Clark expedition). Clark was inspired after seeing the Epson Derby in England. Along with horse racing and floppy hats, the Kentucky Derby also has a signature drink: the Mint Julep. A mint julep is traditionally made of mint, bourbon, sugar, and water. This drink was originated in the Southern United States by Senator Henry Clay of Kentucky. Each year almost 120,000 mint juleps are served at the Churchill Downs over the two-day period of the Kentucky Oats and Kentucky Derby.

Derby=hot Southern women, large hats, & mint juleps.
What were you thinking Nick?

3. Sweetwater 420: This is Atlanta's claim-to-fame brewery and the name itself should be self-explanatory. Sweetwater Brewing Company's Don't Float the Mainstream motto embraces itself by creating beers such as Summer Hummer, Donkey Punch, and Happy Ending. The company was created in 1997 by two friends, Kevin McNemy and Freddy Bensch. In 2002, the company was named Small Brewery of the Year at the Great American Beer Festival. Sweetwater has also won various nationally recognized awards at the World Beer Cup and the Great American Beer Festival. Sweetwater beers are available through the Southeastern United States. The bread and butter beers, 420, Georgia Brown, IPA, and my personal favorite, the Blue, can be found at both restaurants and stores. For a full tasting, visit the Brewery Wed-Thursday from 5:30-7:30 and for $8, you get a brew tour, six pours, a beer glass, and live music. Bring your pets, too!

4. Firefly Vodka: Based on previous observations of myself and my relationship with Firefly, I would dare to say that there is no other product currently on the market that is comparable with this sweet tea infused vodka. Firefly Vodka distillery is located on Wadmalaw Island, SC, thirty miles South of Charleston. Master distiller Jim Irvin and partner Scott Newitt created this six time distilled vodka. Every aspect of the production is done at the Irvin House in old buildings that were once used to maintain a carriage company. According to the Firefly website, the distillery is "proud to bring true southern products to the market." Amen ya'll. Firefly is currently distributed to 40 US States (luckily in Georgia, too), but beginning in March 2008, Firefly will be available in all 50 states. That is true Southern hospitality--we like to share our wealth. You can become a fan of Firefly via Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Firefly/92164850642.

Disclaimer: Please act responsibly--this is intended for adults of legal drinking age and purely intended for entertainment purposes. Do not mix Jack Daniels with anything but coke and water; limit your SoCo to two shots; wear a floppy hat while drinking your mint julep; and don't forget your Southern drawl when drinking your Firefly & water.

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