Some of the oldest American cocktails come out of the South, which makes them some of the oldest cocktails in the world given this style of beverage was at least popularised in the USA. Here are my favourite classic Southern cocktails, using some of my favourite Australian spirits (and a Kentucky bourbon). Each recipe serves 1 generously, so sip slowly! Whip up some Southern Pimento Cheese Dip to serve with your Southern cocktails (see video below).
It doesn’t get much simpler than this amber combo from New Orleans, originally made with Cognac though rye whiskey is more common now. Chill an old-fashioned glass well. Stir 2 nips Archie Rose Single Paddock rye whiskey, 1½ teaspoons sugar syrup and 2 dashes bitters (preferably Peychaud’s) in a cocktail shaker with a few ice cubes. Roll a splash of absinthe (or other anise-based spirit) around the glass, discarding excess. Strain whiskey mixture into the glass and garnish with lemon peel.
Henry Ramos invented this cocktail at his New Orleans tavern in the late 1800s, where it’s said up to 20 barmen were employed making this one drink. Like a Guinness, it’s traditionally poured, rested, then topped up to ensure a good head; pouring from a height helps with this too. Vigorously shake 2 nips Bass & Flinders Geneviève gin, 1 egg white, 1 nip sugar syrup, 1 tablespoon each cream, lemon juice and lime juice, and ¼ teaspoon orange blossom water in a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain, return to the shaker without ice and continue shaking until fluffy. Pour into a chilled highball glass. Pour in soda from a height to form a head and garnish with a quarter slice of orange.
Created in Pat O’Brien’s New Orleans bar, this tropical rum cocktail, originally made with just passionfruit and lemon juice, today often contains orange, lime and/or pineapple as well. The traditional glass is shaped like an old-fashioned hurricane lamp. Shake ¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice, contents of 1 passionfruit, and 1 nip each lemon juice, Brix white rum, Flor de Cana dark rum and maraschino cherry syrup in an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Strain into a hurricane glass three-quarters full of crushed ice and garnish with a maraschino cherry and orange slice.
Punches pre-date American cocktails, being served from big bowls in British punch houses in the 1700s. New Orleans has made this milk punch its own and it’s the favoured Christmas tipple in many Southern households. Whisk together ⅓ cup milk, 2 nips 23rd Street Distillery brandy, ½ nip sugar syrup and ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract. Pour over crushed ice and top with freshly grated nutmeg.
This refreshing, icy Kentucky classic is especially popular at Derby time. Originally made with New England rum, local bourbon eventually became the spirit of choice. Garnish with plenty of mint so you can enjoy the aroma with each sip. Half fill a metal cup with crushed ice. Shake 2 nips Knob Creek bourbon, 2 teaspoons sugar syrup, 8 mint leaves and a dash of bitters in a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain into the cup and stir to combine well. Add more ice and stir again. Top up with ice so the cup is full and garnish with a big mint sprig.