The South in a Cocktail Glass

With her new book, Alba Huerta, of Houston’s Julep, shows exactly why she’s one of the country’s most inventive mixologists

Photo: TK; Julie Soefer; TK

From left: The Stone Fence Sour; mixologist Alba Huerta; the Two Drinks Coming.

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.

Two Drinks Coming

Homemade SoCo and lime cordial elevate a cherished Southern libation

Makes 1 drink


    • 1 ounce plus ½ ounce House “SoCo” Bourbon, divided (recipe below)

    • 1 ounce Lime Cordial (recipe below)

    • ¼ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice, lime shells reserved

    • ½ lime shell, for garnish

  • Lime Cordial

    • 1 cup granulated sugar

    • 1 cup water

    • 5 ounces dried limes

  • House “SoCo” Bourbon

    • 1 liter 100-proof bonded bourbon

    • ½ cup dried cherries

    • ½ cup dried apricots

    • ½ cup dried orange wheels, cut in half before measuring

    • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise in half

    • 1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick

Like many of the world’s great inventions, this cocktail evolved from an oversight, writes craft-cocktail expert Alba Huerta in her new guide, Julepwhich shares a name with her lauded Houston bar. For our Friends and Family Night, we invited guests to come in and help us practice being in the space for the first time, to discover what needed tweaking before opening night. This included printing the menu—ideally after a careful proofread. But we missed that part, so that night’s menu listed “Two drinks coming” instead of the two cocktails that were still under construction. The typo must have been eye-catching because we kept having to explain that it wasn’t a real drink and, no, we couldn’t make it. After that night, I felt obliged to invent the Two Drinks Coming.

Together, the house SoCo and the lime cordial made a delicious cocktail. Now all we had to do was figure out how to keep the cocktail true to its name and fit two drinks into a single glass. So we borrowed from Tiki culture and used a spent lime shell as a shot glass


  1. Fill the glass with crushed ice. Pour the “SoCo,” cordial, and lime juice into a cocktail shaker. Fill the shaker with ice cubes. Cover and shake vigorously 20 times. Strain into a rocks glass and place a straw in the glass. To garnish, pour ½ ounce “SoCo” into a juiced lime shell and place it on top, nesting it in the ice to steady it.

  2. For the lime cordial: 

    Combine the sugar, water, and limes in a small saucepan, breaking up the limes slightly as you add them to the pan. Stir to combine. Place over medium heat and bring to a gentle boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat and simmer until the sugar is completely dissolved and the syrup is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.


  3. Remove from the heat and strain the hot cordial through a fine-mesh strainer or a mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth into a clean container.

  4. Use immediately or transfer to a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.

  5. For the House “SoCo” Bourbon: 

    Combine the bourbon, cherries, apricots, orange slices, vanilla bean, and cinnamon stick in a 2-quart glass measuring cup or other container. (Reserve the empty bourbon bottle if you’d like to store the “SoCo” bourbon in it.)

  6. Cover and let stand for 12 hours. Remove the cinnamon stick.


  7. Re-cover the container and let stand for 12 to 24 hours.


  8. Line a mesh strainer with cheesecloth and strain the infused bourbon through it into a clean container. Discard the fruit and vanilla bean. Transfer the “SoCo” bourbon to the reserved bottle or another container with a tight-fitting lid. Store in a cool place for up to 1 month. We always use it up in just a few days; beyond 1 month the flavor will begin to fade.

  9. **NOTE: I prefer to use dry ingredients to infuse liquor with other flavors because they have no moisture. This is especially true when it comes to fruit. The liquid in fresh fruit can make an infusion susceptible to quick spoilage. Dried fruit gives you all the flavor you want without any of the water that can shorten the shelf life of the final product. You can find dried orange slices in stores and online. When making this infusion, we remove the cinnamon stick after 12 hours so that the spice doesn’t overwhelm all the other flavors in the mixture.

Recipe excerpted from Julep: Southern Cocktails Refashioned

Stone Fence Sour

An updated take on the drink that quenched colonial America


    • 1½ ounces 80-proof bourbon

    • 1½ ounces hard cider, preferably Foggy Ridge

    • ½ ounce orgeat

    • ½ ounce simple syrup

    • ½ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice

    • ½ ounce freshly squeezed orange juice

    • 3 apple slices, for garnish

    • Fresh nutmeg, for garnish

It is said that Ethan Allen and his gang of Green Mountain Boys first concocted the Stone Fence, a hard cider–and-rum libation, the night before they joined forces with Benedict Arnold and his men to seize Fort Ticonderoga from the British in 1775writes Houston-based craft-cocktail expert Alba Huerta in her new guide, Julep. What’s always caught my attention about this anecdote is that the name Stone Fence—a drink a bunch of rowdy colonials used for liquid courage—reminds me of something else entirely. When I first began bartending back in 2000, one of the more popular drinks was a Stone Sour, made from a base (whiskey, vodka, amaretto, or whatever the guest chose), powdered sweet-and-sour mix, and orange juice from a bottle. At the first bar I worked, I must have served hundreds of Amaretto Stone Sours every weekend. So here’s the Stone Fence Sour, offering hints of both the Stone Sour and the Stone Fence: dry apple notes, a whiskey backbone, and a balanced sweet-and-sour element. It’s strong enough to give you courage no matter what you’re planning for tomorrow.


  1. Pour the bourbon, hard cider, orgeat, syrup, lime juice, and orange juice into a glass. Stir with a barspoon to blend. Fill the glass halfway with crushed ice and stir a few times. Fill the glass entirely with crushed ice. Place the straw in the glass. To garnish, thread the apple slices on a cocktail pick and place on the rim of the glass. Add a few grates of nutmeg.

Recipe excerpted from Julep: Southern Cocktails Refashioned