The latest arrival to Atlanta’s cocktail and spirits scene sits in an old train station in a rather derelict part of town, but the cocktails and whiskey selection will have people lining up to get on board (OK, no more bad train puns, I promise). H. Harper Station is the name, and they call themselves “a modern watering stop.” The conductors (really?? another one?) are chefs Duane Nutter, Reginald Washington and mixologist Jerry Slater, and if you’ve ever had an hour to spare in Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson international terminal, you may recognize a few things from their well-regarded One Flew South bar and restaurant there. A first look at H. Harper Station will be forthcoming, but it’s worth pointing out now that the cocktail list instantly vaults them into consideration among Atlanta’s most ambitious cocktail bars. One particularly good and creative drink on the list is the “Bufala Negra,” with Buffalo Trace Bourbon, basil, brown sugar, a touch of balsamic vinegar, and some ginger beer – it all melds together wonderfully. The spirits selection is one of the best you will find in town, with over 40 whiskeys (including Pappy Van Winkle 20 year old and Caol Ila 18 year old). Beer and wine lists are fairly short, but interesting (Brewer-Clifton pinot noir, La Spinetta barbaresco, Domaine Weinbach riesling on the wine lists; Allagash Four and Hitachino White on the very nice draft beer list). Let us know what you think if you make it over to H. Harper Station, we’re looking forward to good things…
Time to have a little fun around here, with a puzzle for you, dear readers. The Thirsty Sleuth challenge is to identify the places shown in the three photos below. You must reply in the comments section on this page, and the first person to get all three photos right wins a Thirsty South t-shirt! The first two are relatively easy, but the third one is going to be tricky. I’ll post a new hint on our Facebook page and Twitter feed each day if no correct answers have been submitted. You can enter a new guess each day as well, so keep an eye out!
#1: Name the coffee house with a fanatical following where I purchased this latte and a unique take on ice coffee:
Hint: they are not in the South, but in a certain Northern California city that Thirsty South recently visited
#2: Name the cocktail bar that can be found beneath this sign (no, its name is not the Anti-Saloon League):
Hint: A bit of research online should quickly help you uncover this hidden gem.
#3: Name the winery tasting room where this delightful wine bottle chandelier can be found:
Hint: They are big believers in biodynamic viticulture, but their tasting room is NOT in Sonoma (it is definitely not the tasting room visited here)
A recent search for the best craft beer selection in Memphis reminded us of one of the great sights to behold in the River City. It’s not Graceland, not the Pyramid, not the Peabody ducks, it is …. Sputnik.
Photo by flickr user naslrogues
“Sputnik” is a rotating neon delight of a liquor store sign, at Joe’s Liquor in Memphis. It was built way back in 1963 and was renovated about 10 years ago, restoring it to its full glory. If you’re ever in Memphis, make a drive by here before heading down to Cozy Corner for BBQ. If you can find a better liquor store sign, let us know!
Check out this great video at All South Networks to see the Sputnik roto-sphere in its full glory.
Photo courtesy of Precision Sign.
There is a Southern specialty that for some reason has not found the popularity and omnipresence that is so surely deserves. It is found most often in rural gas stations, across Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama. But it deserves a place at the bar. At every bar that serves beer, in fact. For there is no greater friend to beer than this delicious, salty, crunchy snack. As much as we regret to say this, it is NOT the pork rind or cracklins. It is… the peanut… but not just any peanut! Yes, the roasted peanut is a rich and grand thing, the boiled peanut is beautiful and bewitching, but the deep fried peanut, “shell-n-all”? THAT is the South’s greatest beer snack.
The first time one encounters a deep fried peanut, the initial temptation is to crack the shell open and free the peanuts from bondage. That would be a mistake. Once you’ve overcome your fears of the shell, accepted that maybe you should try just one since the bag proclaims “so good… you can eat ’em SHELL-N-ALL,” your mouth will soon tell you that you’ve made a wise choice. The crisp crunch of the shell and the saltiness and spice that have infused it hit your tastebuds first. Then the toasty, nutty goodness of the peanuts themselves layer on another wave of joy. And what could possibly follow that wave of joy other than a sip (or a gulp) of a cold beer? Like peanut butter and jelly, moon pies and RC cola, deep fried peanuts and beer are a match made in Southern heaven.
So, next time you’re off on a rural highway and stop for gas, be sure to check inside for the presence of this delicacy, then buy as many bags as your car will hold. You can thank “Uncle Bud” of Soddy Daisy, Tennessee for producing these wonders, or his rivals, Jerry of Polkville, North Carolina, or Bobby Salter of the one and only Plains, Georgia. And ask your favorite barkeeps to do the world a favor and bring some deep fried peanut goodness into the lives of their patrons. And they will thank you.
By the way, the basic salted, deep fried peanuts can also act as a blank canvas of sorts for adding your own spices. Simply heat up some oil and the spice mixture of your choice in a skillet and toss in some deep fried peanuts, mix well, drain on a paper towel, and you’re set. Here’s a not-so-Southern batch with chili pepper and Sichuan peppercorns, equally good with an IPA or a good German Riesling!
Decatur and the Westside seem to be battling it out for food and drink supremacy in Atlanta these days, and Decatur’s lineup is enough to make you rethink your decision to live anywhere other than within walking distance to the heart of Decatur. Visits to some stalwarts of the Decatur scene revealed all that is great about the onset of Autumn – seasonal ales, creative cocktails shifting to spices and fall fruits, and food to match.
Let’s start with Leon’s Full Service, where Miles and team man the bar and turn out some of Atlanta’s best cocktails. They’ve already made the turn out of the relatively light and refreshing summer drinks and are now in the land of apples and honey – richer, spicier, darker. With names like Death & Company, Witch Hunt, and the Whitehall Mystery, surely Halloween is right around the corner. The Witch Hunt is a perfect drink for easing into the cooler weather, a mix of house-made apple-cardamom syrup, Dry Fly gin, Liquore Strega (Italian for witch), a bit of lemon and an absinthe rinse (full recipe below, under Comments). It manages to be bright and balanced, warming and refreshing, and Miles’ tricks with the shaker make a perfect treat when you feel the fabulous texture, the “mouthfeel,” of this drink. Here’s a little video to whet your appetite for going on a Witch Hunt of your own:
Down the street a few blocks, Cakes & Ale matches their stellar, seasonal food with some equally stellar, seasonal drinks. Corina behind the bar is now featuring a cocktail called East of Eden (recipe here). Apples and pomegranates mix together with Corsair Wry Moon unaged whiskey, a beautiful sight in a dark vintage martini glass. Corina has been seeking the right pairing for the Corsair unaged whiskey, and the freshly pressed apple juice and muddled pomegranate seem to be the perfect match. Look for some interesting Hot Toddy-inspired cocktails coming soon to counteract the cooler weather.
Back on the square, the Iberian Pig has been turning out a signature drink for some time now, but it seems especially well suited to the weather these days – their Iberian Old Fashioned gets smokey and rich with house bacon-infused rye whiskey, brown sugar and molasses, and a mix of bitters and citrus oil to top it off. Other bars are playing with bacon, but Iberian Pig gets it right, not too heavy, not too salty, simply right.
Of course, The Brick Store Pub is constantly offering seasonal beer specials from keg or cask or bottle, and the current crop is keeping the crowds happy. A current rare treat is the Founder’s Black Biscuit, a barrel-aged black ale that brings serious complexity and depth.
As if the cocktails and beer weren’t enough to get you over to the Decatur side of town, there’s also a new wine shop down the street in quaint Avondale Estates. The Little Wine Shop just held their grand opening and is a great stop for good and interesting value wines. Their monthly six pack special is an especially good way to try some compelling wines at a very compelling price.