Southern drinking just might reach its apex in Houston, Texas—at a bar called Julep, where Alba Huerta mixes, yes, superlative juleps, but also fresh riffs on regional legends and geography, with names like the Cape Fear Cooler, the Eudora, and the Cajun Fig Soda.
Huerta’s cognac-based Antebellum Julep made the cover of our February/March 2014 Great Southern Drinks issue, and we tasked the Monterrey, Mexico-born, Texas-raised bartender with devising the G&G Punch for our April/May 2017 tenth anniversary issue. Now, we’re immersed in her new guide: Julep:Southern Cocktails Refashioned, out this month.
Julep is a collection of sixty-five inventive Southern drinks, such as the sweet-potato-based Amethyst Flip, the Honeysuckle Julep, the benne-seed-lacquered Creole Crusta, and the cool, earthy Sassafras Punch. Huerta divides her recipes into six story-rich sections, including three drawn from specific realms of Southern culture and history: The Rural South, the Saltwater South, and Trading with the Enemy—or, drinks inspired by the Civil War.
“Coming up with those menus helped us define what a Southern regional cocktail menu should look like,” Huerta says. “Our drinks had to have stories, they had to be meaningful, and they had to resemble Southern culture, or drinking, or people. This book followed naturally after that, as a way of presenting those stories.”
“People often ask why I’m preoccupied with Southern cocktails,” she continues. “It’s because the South is where I live—and because, as an immigrant from Mexico, I was so welcomed into the beautiful city that I call my own now. That’s why Southern culture is so meaningful to me.”
Click here to buy the book, and read on for two exclusive recipes: the Two Drinks Coming, a multi-step cocktail that tastes like the best possible version of the classic SoCo and lime, and the Stone Fence Sour, an easier aperitif based on a liquor-and-apple-cider drink that quenched colonial America.