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.