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Charleston’s Top Cocktails

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Master mixologists Evan Powell of Fish and Teresa Whims of Charleston Grill will be at the Charleston magazine Tasting Booth at Charleston Wine + Food Festival this Saturday afternoon, shaking up and offering samples of their winning drinks. Photographs by Christopher Nelson

march 2, 2011

Charleston’s Top Cocktails
Who created the city’s most fashion-forward drinks? Meet the winners of our challenge, get their recipes, and taste the stylish concoctions

Last fall, Charleston partnered with Ben Arnold Beverage Company and challenged local bartenders to create two drinks—one based on Grey Goose vodka, another on Gentleman Jack whiskey—to complement the fabulous nights of fashion during Charleston Fashion Week® (March 22-26). After 30 mixologists posted their creations to—where fans and fashionistas alike voted on their favorites—the top five from each category moved on to the main event: a live competition at O-Ku in January. While thirsty partygoers enjoyed sampling the liquid contenders, our panel of judges tasted each drink, scoring them according to name, appearance, taste, and presentation.

Here are the winning drinks, Charleston’s Top Cocktails, which will be presented this Saturday afternoon at the Charleston magazine Tasting Booth at the Charleston Wine + Food Festival and featured in the Style Lounge during the five nights of fashion in Marion Square.

Gentleman Jack Winner:
Black Thai Lemonade
Evan Powell, Fish

Outfitted in a ’60s tux, Fish manager Evan Powell presented his spin on a vintage Southern cocktail, Lynchburg Lemonade, playing off both his sartorial sensibilities and the drink’s name. For his Black Thai Lemonade, he combined Gentleman Jack with a lemongrass syrup, fresh lemon, and a spicy splash of Blenheim, South Carolina’s own ginger ale. The result is a thoroughly refreshing and balanced drink that is sure to please in high style.

(Serves 1)
1 1/2 oz. Gentleman Jack whiskey
1 1/4 oz. lemongrass-infused simple syrup*
2 lemon wedges, plus a twist for garnish
3/4 oz. Blenheim “Hot” ginger ale

Pour first two ingredients into an ice-filled shaker. Squeeze lemon wedges and drop in. Shake and pour into an old-fashioned glass. Top with ginger ale and garnish with a lemon twist.

*For the lemongrass-infused simple syrup, bring two cups of water and a half-pound of chopped lemongrass to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in two cups of sugar. Cool and pour through a fine mesh strainer into a sealable bottle. Note: The syrup will keep in the refrigerator for up to two months.

Grey Goose Winner:

Teresa Whims, Charleston Grill
It’s no surprise that the fiery redhead behind the bar at Charleston Grill concocted a drink as sleek and sophisticated as the Ferrari for which it’s named. With equal parts delicately sweet elderflower syrup and the bittersweet Italian aperitif, Aperol, added to a base of Grey Goose and orange juice and then garnished with an exotic edible orchid, the high-octane yet delicious cocktail sped into the fast lane to win.

(Serves 1)
1 oz. Grey Goose vodka
1/2 oz. elderflower syrup or St. Germain liqueur
1/2 oz. Aperol
1 oz. orange juice
Orchid or orange peel, for garnish

Pour first four ingredients into an ice-filled shaker. Shake well. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with an orchid or orange peel.

For the Charleston magazine Wine + Food Festival Tasting Booth schedule, click here.

For more information on the Charleston Wine + Food Festival, click here.

For information on Charleston Fashion Week®, click here.