There is no drink more Southern than sweet tea. Not bourbon. Not Tennessee whiskey. Not the mint julep or the Sazerac or Southern Comfort. Sorry Coca-Cola, even in Atlanta you take a backseat to sweet tea. And sweet tea spans the South – it sits on tables from Tallahassee to Texas and everywhere in between. It offers relief on a hot day. It somehow settles the Southern stomach alongside pounds of pork or fistfuls of fried chicken. Despite its tooth-aching sugar saturation, sweet tea always seems like a wholesome choice. Even when you add vodka.
Jim Irvin and Scott Newitt at Firefly Distillery on Wadmalaw Island, South Carolina, struck Southern gold when they came up with their sweet tea vodka in 2008. Using a bit of the tea grown just down the road from their distillery and a hefty dose of Louisiana cane sugar, Firefly perfectly captured the essence of Southern sweet tea, and added a healthy kick to that “wholesome” goodness. Since then, countless imitators have popped up like weeds (ahem), but Firefly has led the way and has seemingly become a staple in bars and liquor stores across the country, spreading the Southern sweet tea gospel to a whole new audience. They smartly partnered with the Sazerac Company to help distill and distribute Firefly, and now have a whole lineup of flavored tea vodkas (peach, mint, lemon), a “skinny” version of the sweet tea vodka made with the natural low-calorie sweetener stevia, and a sweet tea bourbon as well. You might not find Firefly in the arsenal of most leading-edge mixologists, but you will find it in the homes of many happy sweet tea drinkers across the country.
Whether you drink it straight in a tall glass filled with ice, or in a “John Daly” (one of the best cocktail names ever in our opinion – basically an Arnold Palmer plus vodka!), Firefly sweet tea vodka goes down awfully easy. Perfect for sipping on a steamy, Southern summer afternoon. And, for that, Firefly sweet tea vodka truly is a great Southern spirit.
The John Daly
1 part Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka
1 part lemonade (we like the Simply Lemonade brand)
Pour over ice in a tall glass, garnish with a slice of lemon and/or a sprig of mint. Easy, huh?
While you’re here, be sure to check out our visit to Firefly Distillery on Wadmalaw Island.
8 Replies to “Great Southern Spirit: Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka”
I first discovered Firefly about 3 years ago, at the end of my vodka phase. I am til this day obsessed. Here in Richmond, Virginia we call them Dirty Arnold Palmer’s. They have certainly helped us out on many a hot day. Armed with a 2-gallon jug of lemonaide and a bottle of firefly, we hit nearby Charlottesville for a weekend away from the drama. We have had sooo many good times with this drink, we never get tired of it! Always good!!!!!
Love the photo with the Firefly Lemonade. That stuff is killer. Wondering if you’ve tried any other recipes and have a favorite?
I can remember my first one like it was yesterday. My wife and I were out on a date night while vacationing in Ocean City, MD at Fager’s Island. My wife asked for a recommendation from the waitress and that’s what she brought us. We struck liquid gold! From that moment on we supply Firefly weet Tea Vodka and lemonade every party we go to, just as wre bringing in the new year 2012 tonight with it. We have evryone hooked on it, especially my golf trip buddies. Every year on our annual Ocean City, MD golf trip we consume 100s of John Daly’s. Nothing says summer like an ice cold John Daly, any time of the year. In the winter they make me feel warm inside like. Like a cool summer night! Stay thirsty my friends!
Jim is a fantastic guy, story teller and friend of the family.
The Original Tea is by far the best seller for us, but don’t hesitate a moment
to mix up his other flavors in cocktails. They are a pleasant surprise.
Jim delighted the attendees at our Firefly dinner. We look forward to seeing him soon.
View photos here: