The future of southern drinking_ four recipes for 2066 _ southern foodways alliance

Some think that historiography is a science more or less like ballistics; that the careful plotting of where a phenomenon has been enables you to predict where it is going. Evaporated cane sugar If only the world were thus! The future, as history shows us, is essentially impervious to investigation. Growing sugar cane Sure, every once in a while somebody smart or lucky manages to plot a through-line, like when Isaac Asimov said in 1988 that one day we would have “computer outlets in every home, each of them hooked up to enormous libraries, where you can … look up something you’re interested in knowing, however silly it might seem to someone else.” But that happens so rarely as to make individual attempts at prediction as reliable as trickle-down economics. How to grow sugar cane Still, it’s fun to try.

In fifty years, Southern drinking will be very different from drinking in the rest of the United (or, by then, Disunited) States.


What is cane sugar Twenty-first-century drinkers have shown disdain for the centralization and homogenization that dominated twentieth-century tippling. Sugar cane products They have embraced the small-scale and the localized. What is sugar cane By 2066, that will have given us a South where new-wave agrarianism, rooted in the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century idea of the region as an agricultural paradise where you can grow the best of everything, coupled with the craft movement and its self-consciously traditionalist ways, will have kicked up a whole range of new-old drinks. Sugar cane fields There will be local wines, made from cleverly hybridized grape varietals whose DNA is largely American. Benefits of sugarcane juice And beer, of course, made in every county that allows it and often flavored with items from the Southern larder. Sugar cane syrup Cowpea-chicory stout, anyone? No doubt Southern soft drinks will extend their recombinant ways in new directions—for all I know, the drink of the South in 2066 will be an electric-blue, chili-mango soda sweetened with local cane sugar (I’ll get to that) and factory-spiked with legal, synthetic THC. Sugar and cancer It was all about spirits, and if there’s one thing current trends tell us, it’s that hooch is back to stay.

There will also be a lot of spirits. Sugar candy store Historically, the South was a land where the native grapes were nasty and imported ones were louse-food; a land too hot to brew beer. Sugarcane miami It was all about spirits, and if there’s one thing current trends tell us, it’s that hooch is back to stay. Health benefits of sugarcane Whiskey, of course, is made everywhere. Sugar cane farm In half a century, one can hope, it will also be all well-distilled and fully matured. Sugarcane juice machine (One can hope.) David Wondrich tells tale of the hot toddy’s history.

A look at American distilling manuals from the early days of the republic, before whiskey chased off all its competitors, reveals a startling range of crops that were once distilled in the region, all ripe for reviving. Sugarcane juice benefits Some were terrible: Persimmon brandy was notoriously vile. Sugar cane juicer Some were indifferent: Cornstalk rum, distilled from the juice that wells up in the stalks before they put forth ears, was generally thought to be passable if it was made properly (although it usually wasn’t). Raw sugar vs white sugar Some were good: paw-paw brandy, apple brandy, and whiskeys made from various grains. Sugar cosmetics Even Lowcountry rice produced a decent liquor. Sugar pine One spirit was considered so excellent that it cost more than the finest imported Cognac: peach brandy from the Carolinas and Georgia, distilled from fresh peaches and their crushed pits and aged for many years in oak. Sugar pine point state park In the near(er) future: The Southern Foodways Alliance Guide to Cocktailswill publish later this year.

Fifty years from now, somewhere in the South, these spirits and drinks will be crafted, sold, and shaken or stirred into cocktails, flips, punches, coolers, and what-have-you. Sugar pine railroad We’re already well on the way with many of them, as, say, a julep made with Copper & Kings brandy from Louisville will readily demonstrate. Sugar sin As a sort of experiment, here are four reconstructions—or rather, I suppose, preconstructions—of Southern drinks, vintage 2066.

I’m assuming humanity is going to prove too pigheaded and dysfunctional to reverse climate change. Sugar restaurant Some parts of the South, hot and wet already, are going to get a whole lot hotter and wetter. Popsugar careers There will be bugs. Cane sugar If we’re lucky, there will also be more sugarcane. Sugar cane Mixed with a little lime juice and a lot of ice, fresh cane juice is lightly sweet, grassy, and refreshing. Unrefined cane sugar It’s easy to imagine little electric cane-presses popping up on lunch counters throughout the South; places where they’ll mix the juice with tea and ice and whatever else you want. Brown cane sugar Maybe even a healthy tot of local rum or, even better, an aged corn whiskey. White cane sugar Always a Deep South staple, corn whiskey—unlike its close cousin bourbon, which goes into new oak barrels—ages in previously used barrels, from which most of the sharp tannins have already been extracted. Sugar cane processing The result is a softer-tasting, grainier spirit that won’t overwhelm subtle cane juice. Brown sugar cane Dash some bitters on top (assuming the current trend valorizing bitter flavors continues) and you have a drink that’s refreshing, spicy, and just plain delicious.

Dash the top liberally with Angostura bitters, artisanal chokecherry-chinchona bitters, or whatever other bitters you prefer. Planting sugar cane Stir. Cane sugar nutrition Straw. Sugar cane growing Bonus: Jerry Slater’s “Love Letter to the Old Fashioned.” Photo by Andrew Thomas Lee. Cane sugar healthy Chinese Grocery Five-Treasures Punch

The South already grows a good deal of sorghum, a hot-climate grain that is mostly used for animal feed or—when the stalks are cut before the grain develops and then squeezed—as a source for a particularly pungent sort of syrup. Sugar cane healthy Like all grains, sorghum seeds are full of starch, which can be converted to sugar, fermented, and distilled. Cane sugar benefits Now, until recently, we didn’t really do that with sorghum in America, other than for ethanol. Processing sugar cane Microdistillers such as South Carolina’s High Wire have begun turning the stuff into a slightly wooly sort of whiskey, but that’s just scratching the surface of sorghum spirits. Sugar cane skewers The country that goes deep into beverage sorghum is China, where the resulting spirit is called baijiu, or “white wine.” It bears approximately the same relation to sauvignon blanc that a saber-toothed tiger does to an elderly, declawed lap-kitty. Sugar cane honey Funky—and that’s an understatement—fruity, dry, and very strong, baijiu is the blue cheese of the spirits world (indeed, much of that funk comes from a fungus, aspergillus, which Asian distillers traditionally use to start fermentation).

Is baijiu going to be the tequila of the mid-twenty-first century? It doesn’t seem that way. How to plant sugar cane But in 1950, Americans were still deeply suspicious of tequila, and just look at us now. Sugar cane food As the foodways that Asian immigrants bring to the U.S. Is cane sugar bad for you South interweave with local traditions, it’s not much of a leap to imagine East Asian spirits influencing Southern drinkways. Cane sugar vs white sugar My example is a variant on the nineteenth-century Mississippi Punch, renamed with a nod to the Chinese immigrants who opened groceries in the Delta at the turn of the last century. Beet sugar vs cane sugar It’s not for the faint of heart, but there’s a deep, swampy tang to it that captures the essence of the region.

• 1 ounce light sorghum syrup (made by mixing equal parts thick sorghum syrup or sorghum molasses and water)

Strain into ice-filled pint mason jar and garnish with—hell, I dunno. Red sugar cane I don’t even know what the cool kids are garnishing things with now, let alone fifty years from now. Where is sugar cane grown You’ll need a straw.

*For this drink, you don’t want baijiu at its most intense. Sugar cane industry Kweichow Moutai, the flagship brand, would move into this drink, take over, and kick every other ingredient out on the street. What is sugar cane used for Kaoliang, from Taiwan, still has plenty of the funk, but it can play with others. Is cane sugar healthy Lowcountry Julep

In 1854, the New York wine merchant and drinks authority Frederick S. Cane sugar vs brown sugar Cozzens wrote in his newsletter, Cozzens’ Wine Press, that “the young rice of our South would make a very fine Arrack, beyond doubt,” and that “American Arrack might be made to rival that of Batavia.” A bit of explanation: Cozzens’s “Arrack” is the English version of an Arabic word, used throughout the Middle East and southern Asia, that means “liquor,” and is just as specific. Is cane sugar good for you There are many arracks, made from everything from palm sap to mare’s milk, and yes, even rice.

Cozzens was right: You can distill something delicious out of rice. Cane sugar vs sugar He’s also right that such a spirit “needs to be kept many years…before it is mellow enough for use.” As proof, we now have Kikori, a Japanese rice “whiskey” that is a blend of three- to ten-year-old pure-rice shochu. Maui sugar cane Light, nutty, and mellow, this quasi-whiskey with a hint of Asian fungal fermentation makes a good argument that Southern distillers should get into rice. Is cane sugar bad Assuming they do, and assuming that regional tradition inspires people to drink juleps, it’s easy to imagine the bartenders at Husk in Charleston in 2066 (I’m sure it will still be around) mixing fine Carolina Gold–whiskey juleps for their happy patrons. What is evaporated cane sugar And, it being Charleston, a city once extraordinarily devoted to drinking Madeira, they’ll no doubt float some of the wine on top. Cane sugar vs beet sugar By then, they might use a Southern-made equivalent.

• Stir 2 teaspoons sugar and 2 teaspoons water together in a tall glass.

• Add 5-6 fresh mint leaves and press lightly with a muddler.

• Pack glass to top with finely-cracked ice (the best way to get this is to put it in a canvas sack and murder it with a big mallet).

• Carefully pour 3/4 ounce fine, rich Madeira or sweet Marsala on top.

The South isn’t all country honk. Brown sugar vs cane sugar It’s also city slick, and I doubt that part of it’s going away. Sugar beet vs sugar cane In the South of 2066, there will be elegant cocktail lounges and people drinking elegant cocktails, and I’m sure some of those will be based on peach brandy that has spent seven or eight or twelve years slumbering in the wood. What is pure cane sugar (Modern microdistillers have begun reviving this staple, but it’ll be years before their attempts reach maturity.)

The Resurrexit is a liquid tribute to Atlanta, the Big Peach. Calories in cane sugar “Resurgens,” the city’s motto, is Latin for “rising again,” as a Phoenix rises from the flames. Cane vs beet sugar By 2066, I predict we can nail that participle down into a past perfect: “It has risen again.” Resurrexit. How is sugar cane grown The drink is a twist on a 1920s French one, the Burnt Fuselage (flames, what what). How is sugar cane processed Lacking old peach brandy, I’ve used young peach brandy mixed with well-aged Cognac to add the old-brandy notes. Organic cane sugar vs white sugar The result is as suave and sophisticated as you please, but with a little extra warmth and generosity.

• 3/4 ounce peach brandy, either artisanal (such as Kuchan or Dutch’s) or bootleg

• 3/4 ounce, or a little more, dry orange Curacao (such as Pierre Ferrand)

• 3/4 ounce, or a little less, fresh-squeezed, strained lemon juice

• Strain into a chilled cocktail glass that has had its inside and its rim wiped with a mint leaf. How to make sugar cane Flame an orange peel over the drink.

David Wondrich is the James Beard Award–winning author of Imbibe and Punch and the senior drinks columnist at the Daily Beast. Cane sugar vs refined sugar Sign up for The Digest to receive Gravy in your inbox. Benefits of cane sugar Tags:

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