No celebration is complete without a signature cocktail — or three. For our Charleston summer party, restaurateur, mixologist and founder of Jack Rudy Cocktail Co., Brooks Reitz shook up a trio of his favorite, Southern-inspired drinks.
“Strictly speaking, a Southern cocktail is one that was created here; drinks like the Mint Julep or the Old Fashioned,” says Reitz. “But in broader terms, I think of a Southern cocktail as any one that fits the way of life down South. Since it can get so hot, I like something that’s cool, cold and refreshing: something you might sip on a porch swing.”
“This drink is inspired by a drink I grew up around – the Icepick,” says Reitz. “Traditionally it’s vodka with sweet tea, but we opted for Bourbon (my dad’s favorite).” Then, instead of using traditional sweet tea, Reitz made a tea syrup that he shook with lemon juice for a refreshing riff. “We finished it with our Jack Rudy Cocktail Cherries, which are brined in bourbon.”
1 1/2 oz. (45 ml) bourbon
3/4 oz. (20 ml) tea syrup (see below)
3/4 oz. (20 ml) fresh lemon juice
In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine the bourbon, tea syrup, and lemon juice. Cover, shake vigorously, and strain into a double old-fashioned glass filled with ice. Garnish with the cherry and serve. Makes 1 drink.
In a saucepan over medium-high heat, bring 1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) water to a simmer. Add 1 cup (8 oz./250 g) sugar and stir until it completely dissolves. Remove the pan from the heat and add 1 Lipton tea bag. Set aside to steep for 5 minutes, then remove and discard the tea bag. Let cool to room temperature before using.
Here, Brooks Reitz puts a southern spin on the classic cocktail known as the French 75 (traditionally made from gin, lemon juice, sugar and Champagne). When working on his cocktail recipes he discovered that not everyone loved gin, a mixoligist’s favorite spirit. “We looked for other ways to convince folks to give Gin a spin,” says Reitz, who came up with this easy-drinking sparkling cocktail.
1 oz. (30 ml) gin
3/4 oz. (20 ml) Jack Rudy Small Batch Tonic
Champagne as needed
1 lemon twist
In a Champagne flute, stir together the gin and tonic. Top with the Champagne and garnish with the lemon twist. Makes 1 drink.
Maple Street Sour
Don’t try this drink with the inexpensive “grenadine” you’ll find at every liquor store, which is made primarily from high fructose corn syrup, water, and artificial flavorings. Jack Rudy grenadine is made the old-fashioned way in small batches from pomegranate juice, cane sugar, and orange flower water. “It lends a bright, exotic note to the drink,” says Reitz. “And it’s named after Maple Street, where we live.
1 1/2 oz. (45 ml) rye
1/2 oz. (15 ml) Jack Rudy Small Batch Grenadine
1/2 oz. (15 ml) fresh lime juice
1 tsp. simple syrup
6 drops Jack Rudy Aromatic Bitters
In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine the rye, grenadine, lime juice, simple syrup and bitters. Cover, shake vigorously, and strain into a chilled champagne coupe or small cocktail glass. Makes 1 drink.