How to Drink Like a Local

A small-batch shopping list for Southerners

photo: Margaret Houston

As cocktails have become more complex and regionally focused, a range of craft spirits, liqueurs, and mixers have arisen that speak to evolving palates and to the places that inspired them. These six concoctions offer a distinctive taste of the South.

Waco, Texas–made Balcones Brimstone, a whiskey distilled from heirloom blue corn and smoked over Texas scrub oak, tastes like an evening around a desert campfire.

In Lenoir, North Carolina, the three friends behind Carriage House Apple Brandy pay tribute to the almost two thousand brandy distilleries that once dotted the South with an old-fashioned spirit made from local apples.

Across the state in Durham, the Vilgalys brothers nod to a different tradition with their Krupnikas, a spiced honey liqueur native to Eastern Europe but made with honey from the North Carolina piedmont.

In Louisiana, people have been enjoying rich perique tobacco, fermented on oak for a year or more, since before Columbus. New Orleans native Ted Breaux is the first to distill it into the surprisingly smooth (and nicotine-free) spirit Perique Liqueur de Tabac.

The Bitter End founder Bill York is based in New Mexico, but his Chesapeake Bay bitters carry the flavors of Old Bay and taste great in a Bloody Mary.

And in Charleston, South Carolina, Newtonian Beverage Company’s Gram Howle captures the scent of the Holy City in springtime with his floral Confederate Jasmine bitters.