Local Three, Atlanta: Elvis, The Dude, & a Big Pig

Who knew that the “three” in Atlanta’s new bar and restaurant, Local Three, referred to Elvis, the Dude (from The Big Lebowski), and a very big pig? Some have surmised that it refers to owners Todd Mussman and Ryan Turner (of Muss & Turner’s), along with chef Chris Hall. Heck, the menu even says as much. But just get a load of all the artwork around the restaurant, and it’s clear that there is a serious devotion to Elvis, the Dude, and all things pig. That’s three for three in our book. And the Elvis/Dude attitude is one thing that sets Local Three apart from the crowd of local/Southern/farm-to-table restaurants all over town these days. We’re certainly fans of places like Miller Union, Cakes & Ale, Empire State South and Sprig, but chances are that black velvet Elvis won’t be making an appearance in those joints any time soon.

“In Hungry” and “Out Happy” grace the wall by the kitchen at Local Three

The fine folks behind Local Three have done a beautiful job of converting the old Joel space off Northside Parkway into a warm and comfortable environment that fits the restaurant’s down-home, locavore menu perfectly. Boiled peanuts, a charcuterie plate nicknamed “the Notorious P.I.G.,” and so many other dishes that shout amped-up Southern goodness all seem right amidst the wood, the funky art, and the fine collection of bourbons lining the bar.


While Local Three is surely a restaurant first and a bar second, the bar offerings already fit nicely alongside the cuisine and the general feel of the place. A concise but (mostly) classic cocktail list, for example, features a Whiskey Sour, a Julep, and a “Caucasian” lifted as carefully as possible from the Dude’s drink of choice in The Big Lebowski. In the spirit of sharing, the menu even includes the basic recipe for each cocktail – a nice touch more bars would be wise to follow as a way to engage curious cocktail drinkers. Like the restaurant side, the bar hopes to keep things as house-made and local as possible, always a sign of a bar that takes their craft seriously.

“Hey man, there’s a beverage here” – two views of the cocktail and beer menu

The spirits list goes heavy on the bourbon, with startling variety at the affordable end of the spectrum, and a wonderful collection of bourbon and whiskey flights that allow for tasting and contrasting three different whiskeys that share some common traits – a group of ryes for example, or a trio of top shelf selections including Pappy Van Winkle 23 (for now, though their stock is being depleted rapidly by eager Pappy devotees!). The prices are nice as well. In addition to the bourbons, a few less-often-seen whiskeys from abroad fill out the selection, from the Pig’s Nose Scotch Whisky (5 years old) to Redbreast Irish Whiskey to the Yamazaki 12 year old single malt whisky from Japan.

Matthew behind the bar has also assembled an enticing beer and wine menu: 11 beers on tap with a Southern center of gravity, and about 90 more by the bottle; 100 wines covering a nice spectrum, focused on fitting the food and shifting with the seasons. The folks at Local Three clearly want the drinks to find a harmony with the food, but also aim to please by offering a broad enough selection that will offer something for everyone. Indeed, it’s hard to imagine walking out of Local Three without a big smile on your face, from the salt and pepper shakers to the paintings to the ingredients and menu to the drinks and staff – Local Three aims to please.

In the spirit of aiming to please, here’s a taste of the Local Three experience in photos, featuring more Elvis, pigs and peanuts (and be sure to check out the videos on the food at Local Three over at TheHungrySoutherner.com) as well:

pigs nose
notorious PIG

H. Harper Station: A Scenic Ride

We previously mentioned the opening of H. Harper Station in Atlanta, a “modern watering stop” with an impressive spirits selection and what looks to be an excellent cocktail program led by Jerry Slater. Barely a week old now, the bar and restaurant in a converted old train station is attracting a quick following, especially for their whiskey-based cocktails. One such cocktail is the “Daisy Buchanan” – inspired by the traditional “Great Gatsby.” Here, the cocktail’s name changes to that of the leading lady in the F. Scott Fitzgerald book that inspired the “Great Gatsby” cocktail (got that?), and the cocktail itself changes from vodka/gin/vermouth to bourbon/Chartreuse/grenadine, with the bright acidity of the lemon juice being the primary constant. (Literary side note: The Great Gatsby involves a train ride and is set during Prohibition, how apropos!). Slater chose to use Basil Hayden’s 8yo Bourbon in this drink for its “feminine” qualities, and the Basil Hayden does indeed work nicely with the Chartreuse and lemon juice, an egg white thrown in for a lush and frothy texture. See the cocktail recipe at the end of this post, and enjoy this little video to give you a better feel for H. Harper Station and their “Daisy Buchanan:”

H. Harper Station: A Scenic Ride from Thirsty South on Vimeo.

Of course, there’s much more to the bar menu at H. Harper Station. The cocktail list is grouped by primary ingredient, from Champagne, to beer and cider, to brandy to rye. There’s another section dedicated to punch bowls, including the “Buford Highway Artillery Punch” (with white whiskey, sochu, green tea, lychees, ginger syrup and mint), which are served in beautiful vintage crystal bowls and can keep a group of four happy for the evening. And, of course, the bar can serve up any classic cocktail as well. If you’ve ever enjoyed a Vieux Carre cocktail in New Orleans (or better yet, if you NEVER have), you should seek out Tiffany behind the bar. She hails from Lafayette, Louisiana, and is a master of this hallowed drink, made with Sazerac Rye, Benedictine, Cognac, vermouth and bitters.  The bar staff is already clicking one week in, and they are gearing up to do even more in-house, from their house-made pickled eggs and infused syrups, to ginger beer, cream soda, and tonic. Beer and wine selections are well chosen if not overly numerous (the wine list includes Brewer-Clifton pinot noir, La Spinetta barbaresco, and Domaine Weinbach riesling; and the sixteen beers on tap include Wild Heaven Invocation, Corsendonk Abbey Brown Ale and Hitachino White). Climb aboard for a scenic ride at H. Harper Station (and be sure to stay for the cocktail recipe at the end of this post…)

The “Daisy Buchanan” Cocktail Recipe

1.5 oz Basil Hayden’s 8yo Bourbon (or similar)
.5oz Chartreuse
.5oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
.25oz grenadine, preferably homemade
1 egg white

Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into glass.

Enjoy! And thanks to Jerry Slater and team at H. Harper Station.

There’s A New Bar In Town…

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…

A Peek Into Empire State South

koozie closeup

Empire State South has Atlanta buzzing, both literally and figuratively, and their coffee and wine programs are part of the allure. Jonathan Pascual is the guru behind the coffee bar, stocked with Counter Culture beans, and has a unique concoction to battle the Atlanta heat – “Georgia Coffee: Served in a 16-ounce Mason jar, the iced coffee comes creamed and sweetened. Shaken not stirred.” True enough, he employs a cocktail shaker to whip this one into a frothy delight. The coffee menu also lists our very favorite espresso preparation, the Cortado – “Served in a Gibraltar glass, the 4-ounce beverage is for someone who wants to taste the espresso but not be overwhelmed by steamed milk.”

On the wine side, wine director Steven Grubbs has assembled a delightful list, heavy on Burgundy and Riesling. We’ve already added them to our Thirsty Guide to Atlanta, and if you get there soon, you can take advantage of one of the best wine deals in town – a bottle of Claude Genet Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Champagne for $40. This is a crazy good price, and a crazy good wine (see Grower Champagne, AKA Farmer Fizz), with a nose of toasted almonds and yeasty biscuits (is there such a thing?), followed by hints of vanilla, baked apples, a burst of lemon, and a finish that manages to be both crisp and creamy. No telling how much of this they have left in stock, but it’s a steal. And works wonders alongside their peach tart dessert.

We’ve yet to tap into the cocktail list in any significant way, but if the coffee and wine are any indication (not to mention the nice selection of American whiskey you can see behind the bar), there are delights there as well.

A peek inside. First, the coffee bar and the Georgia Coffee all wrapped up:
coffee bar
coffee koozie

Then, the selection behind the bar, and by the glass:

Finally, a happy table, graced with Claude Genet Champagne, oh, and some food!
farmer fizz