Southern in the City

Southbound in Spirit: A Night at City Grit

By Jenny AdamsMarch 13, 2012

For Sarah Simmons (Food & Wine magazine’s Home Cook Superstar and Southern-born expat) and her business partner Jeremie Kittredge, opening a culinary salon was about bringing a southern love of dinner parties and supper clubs into a crowded, often gritty big city. (
You may remember this dinner we wrote about last year.)

City Grit is indeed part supper club and part dinner party. The building, once a Catholic school, is furnished with decor guests are invited to purchase, all provided by Brooklyn-based furniture artisans WRK Design. The concept is simple: they invite a visiting chef to host each dinner.

Photo: Donny Tsang for CITY GRIT

Each supper has a theme, set by the visiting chef. For my recent visit, it was an Allman Brothers tribute dinner called "Eat a Peach in the Big Apple", hosted by Chef Ron Eyester of Rosebud and The Family Dog in Atlanta. The meal—which started with an amuse of Southern catfish pate and pimento cheese and concluded with an Eat A Peach "Pop Tart"—was warm and homey and filled with the laughter shared by a mix of virtual strangers dining together at communal tables.

Photo: Donny Tsang for CITY GRIT

“(The idea of City Grit) is a gathering of people under the roof of an inspiring host, held partly to amuse one another and partly to refine taste,” explains Sarah Simmons. “When hosting guest chefs, we make sure southern hospitality is always evident in the experience.”

While Southern food will always bring people together, strong spirits will generally keep them at the table. “We are serving American Spirit Whiskey at Rosebud this spring,” explains Chef Ron Eyester. “The brand is based in Atlanta and is becoming a favorite of ours.”

Below is the recipe for Eyester's cocktail, The Southbound.

Photos courtesy of Jeff Moore Garnish Photography for Green Olive Media

The Southbound
2 oz. American Spirit White Whiskey
1/2 oz. Sorghum
1/2 oz. Cynar (Italian bitter aperitif)
1 ounce Blood orange reduction (instructions below)

Place all ingredients in a mixing tin with ice. Shake and strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice.

For Blood Orange Reduction: 

Simmer 2 cups of blood orange juice until reduced by half.